A new smartphone app approved by the city of Columbus is seeking to better manage curb space for the growing number of companies that pick up and drop off merchandise, food and people.

Starting Nov. 18, loading management zones will be at nine locations – six on High Street, from the Ohio State University campus through downtown, and on Park, Vine and Gay streets.

Debbie Briner, spokeswoman for the Columbus Department of Public Service, said the app, called curbFlow, would be a 12-month pilot program.

“You know how much on-demand stuff there is right now, whether it’s food deliveries, Uber, Lyft – there’s just a lot of competition for the curb lane, so this is a way to corral that and bring some order to it,” Briner said. “We’ll be keeping tabs on it, see what the data tell us and go from there.”

The city collaborated with curbFlow, a San Francisco-based app developer and manager, to choose locations where there is concentrated high demand for commercial loading and food deliveries that often lead to vehicles being double-parked and other unsafe behavior, Briner said.

The zones will be marked clearly, she said.

The zones are meant for short-term parking, Briner said. They would be marked and used by commercial and private vehicles operating in a commercial manner, such as for ride-hailing and online food-delivery service or other online platforms, she said.

Drivers who want to use the zones must register at curbflow.com/columbus.

CurbFlow was founded a year ago by Ali Vahabzadeh, the company’s CEO.

Columbus is the second U.S. city to have worked with the app provider, Vahabzadeh said.

A three-month pilot program in Washington, D.C., concluded Oct. 31, he said.

The service is free for the first month. Starting the second month, commercial drivers or the company for which they drive will pay 10 cents for up to five minutes of parking time and 2 cents per minute afterward. This fee recognizes the value of limited public curb space and encourages turnover and access to these zones.

Customers have two ways to use the app. They could drive to the location to determine if it is available or they could reserve the space if it is available for up to 30 minutes in advance, he said.

Each driver gets a certain allotted time period at the zone, depending on the operator segment. Food-delivery drivers, for example, get up to 7 minutes.

“If they overstay, the operator gets digitally metered by the minute,” Vahabzadeh said.

The locations of the nine loading management zones are 965, 1510, 1607, 1708, 1988 and 2165 N. High St., 15 Vine St., 477 Park St. and 14 E. Gay St.

To download the app for iOS-based devices, go to tinyurl.com/y2nola6v. For Android devices, go to tinyurl.com/y5rj54h8.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary