Along for the Ride #119

Heya friends, happy Friday!

Quick note: I am London-bound later in August and will be cycling through the city for a couple weeks! This newsletter will take a short hiatus while I catch up with friends and family oversees, and next week will be my last edition until September. If you’re around London, feel free to reach out and we can go for a socially-distanced jaunt!

// please send me all your Low Traffic Neighbourhood recommendations, and get ready for some extra nerdy newsletters upon my return 🤓

Alright, onto le news:

Read of the Week

Low-traffic neighbourhoods halve number of injuries

I often talk about how we already know how to make cities safer places to live—and we don’t actually need fancy cars chock full of gadgets and cameras to make streets safer places to be, for everybody. So here’s to a program across the UK, that introduced Low Traffic Neighbourhoods across urban areas. The premise was limiting vehicle access and dedicating street space to cyclists and pedestrians. The results?

“Road injuries halved in low-traffic neighbourhoods installed during the coronavirus pandemic when compared against areas without the schemes, a new study has found. The improvement in safety is more than twice that created by 20mph urban speed limits.”

The solutions we need to make cities more sustainable, healthier, safer, and liveable are here. They don’t cost billions or require heavy investments in R&D. But they do require political will and advocacy, so be sure to pipe up when similar programs are proposed in your city or neighbourhood, the next generation will thank ya.

Government and Policy

Waymo starts to lobby the UK government

And what hill does the Alphabet-owned company want to die on? Regulations that would limit deployment of more vehicles. Figures.

CCAV has an open competition!

Speaking of our friends over in the UK, the Department for Transport’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) has an open competition with a deadline that’s *just* been extended. Hop to it!!

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £1.5 million for up to three automated vehicle projects. Funding is offered for the development of technologies applicable to either passenger services, freight services or both, intended for future deployment on public roads.

The US’ Infrastructure Bill

As summed up by friend (and excellent Newsletter writer), John Surico:

Ok, but actually. The infrastructure plan is set to invest $550 billion in new money for transportation, including:

  • $110 billion for roads, bridges and major transportation projects

  • $66 billion for passenger and freight rail

  • $39 billion for public transit

  • $11 billion for transportation safety

  • $7.5 billion for electric vehicle infrastructure

  • $5 billion for zero or low emissions buses

  • $1 billion to redesign or demolish infrastructure that divided communities (!!)

Boston bike lanes bump up bike ridership

That whole “build it and they will come” in action. Also filed under cheap solutions we have today that *actually* make a difference:

“A new statistical analysis of ridership data from the Bluebikes system suggests that the new Commonwealth Avenue protected bike lanes increased bike traffic by at least 80 percent relative to the paint-only bike lane that existed before the construction project began.”

Industry

Why freight has surpassed cars on the road to autonomy

“The investor enthusiasm for self-driving trucks reflects a view that the business case may be more appealing than that for self-driving cars, which companies have said will make their debut as robotic ride-hail vehicles. Traditional truck makers and carriers are signing deals with tech companies, signalling optimism in the self-driving future. And the pandemic showed just how vital trucking and logistics are to the economy.”

GM sues Ford over AV branding

Another day, another lawsuit! GM is suing Ford over the name of their latest automated driving system, which has been named Blue Cruise. The concern is over GM’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary, Cruise, having a very similar name, and thus... drumroll please… a trademark lawsuit emerges.

Opinion

Cities need to be in the driving seat

As a complete aside, when I co-authored Siemens white paper on AVs, “Cities in the Driving Seat” was the title and I’d just like to claim some ownership of this excellent pun, which I am still shocked ever got published. Ok. Now the opinion, which technically differs from my original hot-take. I’m all for cities holding the power, but less interested in the rhetoric that the action that needs to be taken now is investing in AV infrastructure without questioning if AVs are even going to solve our problems… ya know?

“… rather than waiting on a handful of Silicon Valley technology companies, municipal leaders need to leverage their enormous buying power and begin installing communications, collision avoidance and traffic management technologies that will help stimulate innovation and competitive commercial growth in these more useful areas.”

Is Australia ready for AVs?

“The disruption from autonomous vehicles, and other disruptive technologies, should be tamed to enhance sustainability. Public transport patronage is at a record low. One reason is the fear of community transmission. However, considering autonomous vehicles as a potential replacement for public transport and counting it as one of the benefits is short-sighted.”

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

Sarah

P.S. Thank you to my parents for finally subscribing to my newsletter after three years of me writing it 😂 I hope you made it this far down my very niche newsletter. Love you.