Along for the Ride #133
A vote for me, is a vote for bike lanes.
Heya friends, happy Friday!
Before we dive into the news, I wanted to let my SF-based readers know that I am officially-officially running to be on the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Board of Directors. You can read mine and other (amazing) candidates statement’s (aka 150-words about we love bikes + protected infrastructure) here. If you’re an SFBC-member, and want to toss a vote my way I’d appreciate it endlessly.
Secondly, so many of you reached out about being guest contributors and I am le stoked. From the Netherlands to Montreal, Chennai and Geneva I am so excited to welcome even more writers this year.
OK time for ze news:
Read of the Week
The youth in Portland don’t want your highway
Cue every single one of my heart-strings being pulled. A group of young people in Portland are rallying against the State’s plan for highway expansion, dismayed at the project’s environmental toll these expansions will have. The young activists have renamed the Oregon Department of Transportation to the Oregon Department of Climate Arson, and are calling the larger campaign Youth vs. ODOT.
“These teens and 20-somethings are determined to connect the existential threat of climate change clearly and inextricably with road expansion… One recent study covering the 100 largest urbanized areas in the U.S. found that freeway capacity increased 42% from 1993 to 2017 — much faster than population — while vehicle delays surged 144%.”
Moral of this story is that I wish I had been this cool in 7th grade.
Government and Policy
Daylighting a stream in Paris (!!!)
Those of you who have been reading this newsletter for a long-time will know that daylighting a stream is my number one bucket list item. I am low-key obsessed with the impact that daylighting (see process here!) has on urban environments and surrounding watersheds so this story that ties in Paris too.. it’s just 🧑🍳😘
Pennsylvania’s Senate Bill 965 lacks safety oversight
Shout-out to AFTR reader Erin for sharing this article! A new Bill posed to help companies test AVs in Pennsylvania without safety drivers is receiving heat from safety experts and the City of Pittsburgh. The main concern is that companies stand to benefit from this new policy, while residents and other road users are left with the short end of the stick—and local governments won’t be in control of their own roadways. A loose-loose for cities and all road users.
“… road users are not afforded commensurate safety and compensation assurances for the risks they take from sharing the road with immature technology that presents a real and present danger to other road users.” More information from the Safe Autonomy blog here.
AV users shouldn’t be liable during collisions
Me (snarkily) reading this article: And I thought AVs were going to mean collisions were a thing of the past?
“The Law Commission for England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission propose creation of an Automated Vehicles Act to reflect the “profound legal consequences” of self-driving cars. The person in the driving seat would no longer responsible for how the car drives; instead, the company or body that obtained authorisation for the self-driving vehicle would face regulatory sanctions if anything went wrong.”
UK highway code gets a glow-up
The UK has updated its highway code with new protections and priority status for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders (must protect the #horsegirls at all costs!). But seriously, this is really exciting news and lays the groundwork for better enforcement of road rules that are designed to protect our most valuable movers and shakers: sustainable transport users. You can read more on the guidance here.
USDOT tries to tackle traffic deaths
Shoutout to AFTR reader Sam for sharing this article! The USDOT has unveiled a new strategy to tackle traffic deaths, from investments in safer infrastructure to new feature sets in vehicles. It’s also the first time a US federal agency has noted that there is no acceptable number of road fatalities, and that the country must act now to get to zero. You can read the new report here.
“The report is broken down into five objectives: safer people, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds and post-crash care. It calls on states and local governments to support research and develop technology to detect and prevent alcohol- and drug-impaired driving. It also directs the Federal Highway Administration to revise guidance to encourage safer speeds and the use of speed cameras.”
How auto OEMs can help prevent unsafe driving in AVs
“Last week, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced the criteria for a new set of rankings that will evaluate how well automakers are combatting “automation complacency” among their drivers, as well as the intentional misuse of advanced driver assistance systems that are becoming increasingly common on new cars.”
VW is partnering with Bosch to develop a common software platform to bring hands-free driving functions to the German carmaker’s entire fleet—before being made available to the wider industry.
Why “self-driving” as a term is dying
The auto industry is more than happy to leave the term “self-driving” to Tesla and not touch it with a ten foot pole. The AV industry’s top lobbying group in Washington, DC is rebranding from the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets (what a loaded name to begin with) to the Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association. According to the group they made the decisions “to clearly distinguish between AVs and driver-assist to boost consumer trust and understanding.”
Can we get a woop-woop for May Mobility—one of the few AV companies dedicated to shared, electric, and autonomous travel—for raising another round. Very impressed with their team and the dedication they’ve shown towards considering how automated technology can actually be a solution and not just another problem.
Research and Academia
State-led gentrification and the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire
New research out of Leicester University considers displacement on the Lancaster West Estate in London before, during, and after the Grenfell fire (more info on the fire for those of you unfamiliar, and you can donate + support here).
“The temporal lens used adds value in showing that residents were being displaced before the fire and that they have continued to experience displacement even when rehomed. The Grenfell literature tends to focus largely on the causes of the fire but here I consider the lived subjective experiences of displacement, slow violence, unhoming and rehoming, among residents on the Estate. Upholding and preserving these voices is crucial for the Grenfell Inquiry and in resisting state-led gentrification.”
The infrastructure of tomorrow
Shout out to AFTR reader John for writing this report! You rock.
The Aspen Institute has published a new action guide on how to make the most of the US’ $1T Infrastructure Bill. The intention of the guide is to allocate funds and design programs that “create systems that are equitable, dynamic, and built to last”. The report covers everything from governing mindsets, implementation, and new funding sources. 20/10 would recommend to a (transport-loving) friend.
The true flaw of AVs isn’t the tech
“When robotaxis finally open to the public in San Francisco, they risk becoming a gimmick. Fun to try, sure, but they’ll cost the same as an Uber, arrive no faster and decline to speed up when you’re in a rush.”
That last bit is actually OK by me. This article essentially notes that AVs are still cars, and redesigning shitty technology doesn’t automatically make it any less shitty. This one may be behind a Financial Times pay wall :(
Extra Bits + Bobs
TransitCon is back! The completely free transit conference is back for another year. Check out the speakers and register for their upcoming series.
Lyft is looking for an AV Policy Manager. Feel free to reach out to me directly if you any Qs about this role :)
That’s all from me folks. Have a beautiful weekend.