Along for the Ride #116

Heya friends, happy Friday!

This week I’ve prepared a slightly condensed edition for you as I’m covering two weeks worth of news. Very interested to hear how folks like this format in comparison to the usual longer format layout — please feel free to reach out with feedback!

🚨 One last reminder I will be participating in the Shared Use Mobility Center’s 2021 National Shared Mobility Summit. They have invited me to host a session on July 15th for this newsletter audience to meet me and ask all your burning questions. They are kindly offering subscribers to this newsletter 50% off registration (NSMS202150). I would *love* to meet each and every subscriber, so I hope you’ll be able to attend! You can register here! 🚨

Government and Policy

NHSTA orders stricter reporting on AVs

Following growing concerns on the safety of ADA systems (most notably Tesla’s “Autopilot” feature), the NHSTA is ordering companies to “report serious crashes involving driver-assistance and automated-driving systems to authorities within a day of learning about them.” In addition, OEMs and operators will also have to provide monthly reports about their vehicles’ safety.

One piece I thought was interesting, is that this new order also applies to more common-place driver-assistance features (such as lane keeping) that are already well established. 🤞 This data helps identify and advance necessary improvements. Reuters has more information that is not behind a paywall, and the LA Times also does an informative recap.

Roads buckling under extreme heat

Filed under: why we should all be working to ensure technical solutions are also climate solutions. With the recent heatwave across the west coast of the US and Canada, essential transportation infrastructure got a glimpse at just how bad things could get—from roads buckling to subway lines expanding due to extreme heat.

“Just last week, buckling roads slowed or halted traffic in the Pacific Northwest. But it wasn't the first time; in 2019, when Seattle had a then-record heat wave, a driver suffered minor injuries when the road buckled underneath her. Also this month, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said it has responded to 43 "road explosions'' in the Twin Cities area during a recent heat wave. A spokeswoman for MNDOT called it "a traffic emergency." ”

Additional news:

  • The importance of retaining transit ridership for equity and sustainability (Urban Institute)

  • Small cities can’t keep up with old infrastructure (Governing)

  • France is adapting their highway code to include rules and regulations for AVs (Connexion France)

  • When cars relinquish road priority to cyclists and pedestrians — and the infrastructure is there to enforce it (Fast Co)

  • Meep published a new article discussing how MaaS can help achieve equitable mobility in cities (Meep)

Industry

Waymo’s simulation city

A deep dive of Waymo’s Simulation City, the virtual world where the company tests AVs for real-world experiences. This is a new simulation environment, building off of Waymo’s existing simulation, CarCraft.

“The company decided it needed a second simulation program after discovering “gaps” in its virtual testing capabilities, said Ben Frankel, senior product manager at the company. Those gaps included using simulation to validate new vehicle platforms, such as the Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV that Waymo has recently begun testing in California, and the company’s semi-trailer trucks outfitted with sensing hardware and the Waymo driver software.”

Elon Musk’s attempt at humility

Not exactly a dog with its tail between its legs, but we’ll take. I was also today-years-old when I realized there is a Twitter user (@greentheonly) who posts “hacks” of Tesla’s Autopilot feature.

Additional news:

  • A new concept for an accessible taxi service — that has just won a UK design award from Ford (Thiis)

  • An interview with Zoox CEO, Aicha Evans (Technology Review)

  • New whitepaper on the data powering AVs (SmartCitiesWorld)

  • Yandex and GrubHub partner to bring robo-delivery to university campuses (TechCrunch)

  • Hermes (the postal company, not the silk scarf company) and Ford to trial autonomous vans in the UK (This is Local)

Research and Academia

Where we walk

New research from MIT presents a model for estimating pedestrian trips.

“Though walkability has received ample attention in planning literature, most planners still lack practical methods for predicting how development proposals could affect pedestrian activity on specific streets or public spaces at different times of the day. Cities typically require traffic impact assessments (TIAs) but not pedestrian impact assessments. In this study I present a methodology for estimating pedestrian trip generation and distribution between detailed origins and destinations in both existing and proposed built environments.”

Transit-induced gentrification?

New research out of Florida Atlantic University questions the impact of new transit development on neighbourhood gentrification between 1970-2010.

“Longitudinal data across seven regions, from 1970 to 2010, demonstrated signs of gentrification in proximity to new stations compared with control areas. By 2000, the share of the White population grew near LRT stations, whereas the percentage of Black residents remained flat. From 1990 to 2010, we found signs of gentrification based on both demographic and economic indicators, including low-income populations.”

The limits of telecommuting

Research from RMIT in Melbourne considers policy challenges of telecommuting as a pandemic response.

“ ..many postpandemic telecommuters are likely to be knowledge workers for whom some presence in the office during the working week may be required, and that may limit their counterurban moves to metropolitan hinterlands and regions. Commuter-based population growth in metropolitan-proximate and peri-urban settlements may then lead to urban sprawl—that is, to disconnected and widespread suburbanisation.”

Opinion

Why cities should ban cars

(My favourite topic 😼). Based on new research out of Oxford.

“Right now, more than 80 million cars are produced worldwide each year. Absurdly, that means they’re increasing as fast as the global population. A bipartisan group of senators and President Joe Biden also just endorsed an infrastructure deal with $109 billion for roads and other auto-related infrastructure. While the U.S. admittedly needs some upgrades, doing so could perversely lock in more car use that the new study shows could be a catastrophe.”

Extra Bits + Bobs

Jobs you should probably apply for! I know this team fairly well and would recommend working with them over and over again. Please feel free to reach out if you’re interested in an introduction.

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

Sarah