Along for the Ride #105

Heya friends, happy Friday!

Two pieces of housekeeping before we kick-off:

  1. I’m excited to share I’ll be on a panel later in April (alongside some absolute gems of the UK’s transport industry). It’ll be early-curly for North American folks, but a cuppa tea should do the trick 😉 We’ll be talking about the importance of diverse perspectives in transportation.

  2. Secondly, I’ve *officially* started outreach for Along for the Ride’s Guest Series. If you would like to contribute (or recommend another), please reach out for more information. Guest written pieces will be paid, and I am prioritizing folks from queer, BIPOC, youth and other less represented backgrounds.

Ok, now onto le news:

Government and Policy

Ipswich, Queensland wants to give AVs the green light

Ipswich, a suburb outside of Brisbane, is vying to bring AVs to city streets, claiming the city is the “ideal place” to trial such technology. The piece talks about a current trial focusing on connected vehicles + motorways, in addition to a new trial which will introduce automation into the mix.

Congestion pricing may finally get its American debut

With the onslaught of budget cuts hitting transit agencies across the US, more agencies than ever are considering congestion pricing to help fill financial gaps. Another impetus is to leverage congestion pricing to shift driver behaviour, in any attempt to mitigate climate change.

San Jose to modernize their parking policies

We love to see it! The Greenbelt Alliance is about to partner with the City of San Jose as they undergo the process of updating their parking standards for new development. “The changes under consideration include the removal of parking requirements in most areas of the city as well as new transportation demand management requirements in new development.”

Estonia made public transit free, but it didn’t reduce car journeys

In Tallinn, Estonia the city piloted free bus and tram travel for local residents—hoping for some major modal shift. And while public transit use did increase, more than half of all trips to work were still completed by car. The audit suggested that the bus network was not designed to meet the wider population’s mobility needs, and thus, if the city hopes to decrease car usage, their bus network will require a retrofit to make public transit an attractive alternative to car travel.

Shenzen working on AV regulations

Shenzen published a set of draft regulations for what they call “intelligent connected vehicles (ICVs)” (and what we tend to refer to as AVs) this week. The regulations are intend to clarify rules related to road experimentation, licenses and registration, driving, and data protection. 

Arlington, TX launches on-demand AV shuttle 

The city of Arlington is partnering with Via to offer Via customers the option to be picked up in an AV for trips around downtown and the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). Via is claiming it is the first in the United States to integrate on-demand AVs into an existing public transportation service.

Industry

When even the NYT is talking about Tesla’s autopilot troubles

The NHSTA is investigating 23 instances where Tesla drivers, while operating on autopilot, were involved in serious collisions. In these collisions, NHSTA is arguing that Tesla failed to adequately monitor drivers to make sure they are paying attention while in “full self-driving” mode.

Momenta raises $500 million

Toyota, Bosch, and Daimler are betting big on Momenta, a Chinese autonomous vehicle start-up based in Suzhou with a $500 million investment. Momenta sells semi-automated driving software to carmakers while investing in more advanced tech that is years from mass adoption.

TuSimple files for IPO

And its finances still look a bit rocky. The public IPO filing, for the autonomous long-haul trucking company, details that the company has lost more than $300 million over the past three years. Seems like a lot of money, but in this industry it’s all monopoly money anyways… right?

And Didi considers doing the same!

China’s top ride-hailing firm, Didi Chuxing, is nearing an IPO according to “sources”. The company could IPO with a valuation of at least $100 billion.

Virtual test rides in Waymo’s long-haul truck

With the pandemic limiting in-person reporting, Waymo offered its first long-haul trucking demonstration for journalists virtually. A couple dozen reporters rode via live stream, on a one-minute delay. Waymo staff narrated as the vehicle hauled a trailer for about 15 miles along I-10 and Route 202 outside of Phoenix.

Baraja raises $40 million

Sydney based start-up Baraja has raised a $40 million AUD to develop the second and third generation of its LiDAR tech for autonomous vehicles. Previously, Baraja had raised a $45 million Series A round back in January 2019.

Research and Academia

Both pieces of research this week seek to uncover the impact various forms of tactical urbanism brought forth from the pandemic.

America’s slow streets

“These cities excelled in conveying a vision for alternative future, articulating implementation pathways, leveraging political capacity, and circulating information. After six months, half of the cities continue their efforts, including only six which have expanded. The few showing continued strength demonstrate endeavors to evaluate the experiments, validate their feasibility, and embed the experiments into existing sustainability policy. These components, when leveraged together, could seed innovative break-throughs in how city streets are used, designed, and standardized.”

The impact of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs)

Researchers in the UK used longitudinal survey data to compare the impacts of ‘emergency’ low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), set up during Covid-19, to the impacts of longer-standing LTNs.

“While sample sizes are small, both types of LTNs had similar increases in active travel and similar improvements in perceptions of the local environment for cycling (but no change in perceptions of most other aspects of the local environment). Car use tended to decrease. This similarity suggests the emergency LTNs may bring benefits similar to longer-standing LTNs despite their lower budgets and shorter planning periods. We also found that the active travel impacts of the long-standing LTNs grew larger over time, suggesting the emergency LTNs may likewise see larger effects in the future.”

Opinion

Why electric vehicles are the imperfect solution we need right now

“Electric vehicles are not a perfect answer, but they’re one of the answers in response to the climate crisis. I worry that if we only choose to support perfect solutions, we could fail to improve our situation at all, and our situation is far too dire for hesitation. If a guy who’s thinking of buying a new gas-guzzling Toyota Tundra 4×4 hears from both the left and right that an electric vehicle is no better than his dream truck, he likely won’t bother to explore another option.”

Extra Bits + Bobs

That’s all from me, have a beautiful weekend friends.

Sarah