Along for the Ride #106

Heya friends, happy Friday!

This past Wednesday was Trans Day of Visibility. To celebrate, I’ve got a quick reading list for ya. This is an area where I am particularly behind on, so as I keep reading + learning, I’ll be sure to share additional resources in weeks to come.

And lastly, if you are trans or non-binary or intersex and reading this, I just want to say that I see you, and am so glad to have you here reading with me.

Now let’s jump into the news, shall we?

Read of the Week

How coronavirus is transforming architecture

This is a fantastic, interactive piece. I hope you enjoy scrolling through as much as I did. I have some *thoughts* about the glorification of Haussmann and Le Corbusier here, but still an interesting read + perspective.

“A mixed-use neighbourhood has residential and commercial space in a shared environment. What will these developments be like after this pandemic? Architects and urban planners are exploring ways to make them safe, convenient, and vibrant.”

Government and Policy

The battle for city streets

A deeper look into the fight for London’s streets, and how motorists across the UK have taken to identifying themselves as victims of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

“Enthusiasm for LTNs brought about a rare consensus between the Conservative government and the Labour mayor of London, as well as Greens and pro-cycling groups. But an opposition also sprang up, bringing together an equally unlikely alliance of anti-gentrification activists, professional drivers, Labour and Conservative backbenchers, local councils, motoring lobbyists and a raft of new grassroots campaigners who shared their outrage on neighbourhood Facebook groups.”

Why ebikes > electric vehicles

I referenced the research backing this piece a few weeks ago, and now it’s made it into the wider media (yay!), so here’s a link breaking down how this research applies more broadly.

“When we compared the life cycle of each travel mode, taking into account the carbon generated by making the vehicle, fuelling it and disposing of it, we found that emissions from cycling can be more than 30 times lower for each trip than driving a fossil fuel car, and about ten times lower than driving an electric one.”

Bidens’s Infrastructure Plan

Biden is looking to spend roughly $2 trillion to improve America's waning infrastructure, particularly for transportation which would take home $621 billion of the pie. The plan includes “$20 billion to improve road safety for all users” and “$85 billion to modernize existing transit and help agencies expand their systems to meet demand.” Here’s a fun map of how Amtrak could expand if this budget is approved… so you know I’m just sitting over here with my fingers crossed.

Industry

Chipotle is investing in Nuro

Turns out, I too, am susceptible to clickbait. Last week Chipotle invested in autonomous technology company Nuro (they make the petite delivery AVs for groceries and other deliverables), as part of the startup’s latest funding round. In theory, this would help Chipotle strengthen its delivery network.

A vocabulary guide for AVs

There’s a lot of confusion with the autonomous vehicle lexicon. As the industry matures, it is becoming clear that not all companies are speaking the same language, and many (if not all) are using language to manipulate the public’s perception of their technology. The Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium (AVSC) has released a best practice guide in an effort to align language, safety standards, and other performance metrics.

Optimus Ride partners with Polaris

The duo are joining forces to introduce a new line of Polaris’ low-speed microtransit shuttles powered by Optimus Ride’s autonomous software and hardware suite. The two are looking to introduce the shuttles later in 2023, with the intention of deploying them in geofenced, localized environments, such as corporate and academic campuses and mixed-use developments.

Volvo and Aurora partner up on trucks

Sounds like the two are officially going steady. According the press release this is a “long-term partnership spanning several years.” The two are developing a new lineup of fully autonomous semi-trucks, to be deployed in North America on highly frequented hub-to-hub routes.

Lyft and Motional bet big with Hyundai

Lyft and Motional announced this week they’ll integrate their driverless technology into Hyundai’s new all-electric SUV (the IONIQ 5) for the official launch of their AV-based rideshare service (coming to a city near you in 2023). This is not too surprising given Hyundai is Motional’s parent company.  

And last, but not least, people are still egging the AVs in Phoenix

“As the day when our robot overlords take control of Earth away from humans approaches, it remains unwise to taunt, provoke, or anger the robots of today. It is with this in mind that I salute the brave residents of Phoenix, AZ, for egging the self-driving Google-backed Waymo minivans testing on their roads.”

N.B. Road safety is very important, and I do not endorse any behaviour which could lead to potential collisions or injuries!

Research and Academia

C40 on the future of public transport

Shout out to AFTR reader Bridget for this recommendation!

“Public transport isn’t like other sectors. It has played and continues to play a key role in keeping society moving even during this current crisis. Public transport is a vital tool in getting us out of the crisis and promoting a green and just recovery. In the longer term, investment in public transport will help to avert future crises resulting from global heating.”

Extra Bits + Bobs

  • Jobs! Populus.ai is hiring a Senior Account Executive (Public Sector, SF-based) and a Senior Customer Success Manager (also SF-based).

  • Prior to leaving London, I was in the throws of organizing TransportCamp London alongside my pals John Surico and Steve Chambers. It sadly was postponed, but we are now in the process of reviving it! The theme, of course, will be the post-pandemic recovery, and while we still don’t have a venue or date set, the first step is garnering interest. If you’re looking to volunteer or organize (if only remotely), join our mailing list here.

A parting poem

April is National Poetry month, so I’d like to share some extra prose with you, particularly some of my favourite poems about cities. This week is an excerpt from Sara Teasdale’s The Lights of New York (1911). If you’d like to share a poem, I’d love to include it in future editions!

The festivals of Babylon were dark
With flaring flambeaux that the wind blew down;
The Saturnalia were a wild boy's lark
With rain-quenched torches dripping thru the town—
But you have found a god and filched from him
A fire that neither wind nor rain can dim.

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

Sarah