Along for the Ride #145
A car-free celebration!
Heya friends, happy Friday!
What a weird flipping week, eh? Elon Musk buying twitter was just … too much. The silver-lining I am personally clinging to is a local victory in San Francisco where part of Golden Gate Park has been made permanently car-free. It is *wild* to me that we have to fight for car-free spaces in *parks*, but here we are. And honestly, any victory is cause for celebration. If you are an SF resident who is stoked to hear this news, consider donating to local orgs such as the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition*, WalkSF, and Kid Safe SF whose combined efforts made this happen.
P.S. I hope you enjoyed Jyotsna’s guest contribution that week! It happened to overlap with a week I had Covid, and I am forever grateful for her contribution being scheduled for a time when my health was … horrible. If you missed it, you can read it here!
P.P.S. I will be in Vancouver next week (my first time since the pandemic!), so there will be no newsletter next week as I stuff my face with sushi, japa-dogs, and more sushi.
OK onto le news:
Read of the Week
Car ownership doesn’t always equal shorter commutes for Black communities
“Despite decades of increases in car ownership, it still takes Black workers 22.4 minutes longer to get to work every week than their White counterparts, according to a new study, suggesting it may not be possible to speed up city commutes with automotive strategies alone.. There are better ways to erase these racialized commute time differences, of course: by building bus rapid transit and trains, removing the unique barriers to active transportation faced by people of color, and building communities where jobs, housing, and essential services are located within sustainable commuting distance.”
It’s almost as if we need to invest in land-use, housing, transportation, and economic development policy to counteract centuries of racist urban planning? Full report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia here.
Government and Policy
Full-size autonomous buses launch in the UK
Edinburgh is home to Project CAVForth (funded by the DfT’s CCAV), a program that will bring five single-deck autonomous buses to Edinburgh for a pilot! Each bus will be manned by a safety driver, traveling at speeds of up to 50mph on their 22km route, which will mostly involve motorways.
When States take different approaches to AV regulations
This piece is a bit “AVs are the great equalizer!!!” so read with caution. However, it does provide interesting insights into the patchwork approach that States across the US have taken when it comes to regulating AVs. Planetizen also discusses how States have the power to regulate AVs, but most don’t.
UK updates Highway Code to allow for … distracted driving?
The DfT has proposed new measures intended to smooth way for the adoption of AVs on British roads, including allowing passengers (no longer “drivers”!) to watch T.V. while at the proverbial wheel. The T.V. itself must be built into the car’s main screen, so no cellphone watching for you (yet!). The proposed measures have drawn criticism for being too optimistic of the technology’s current state.
The more you know!
Lack of regulation means cars in the US pollute more particulate matter than they do in other countries (Reuters). More info on why particulate matter sucks from (WHO).
What is transportation equity and how should we think about the cost of transportation? (GovTech)
May Mobility releases an AV designed for wheelchair access
A huge kudos / round-of-applause / hat-tip to AFTR reader Erin who was the leading product manager for this program at May Mobility. I have been so inspired and encouraged by Erin’s ruthless commitment to making the AV space more accessible, and am grateful for her leadership in the nascent days of this technology to put people with disabilities first in the design process.
“As part of May’s efforts to improve accessibility in transit, the company will also integrate assistive technology within the vehicle cabin through speakers and a display to help those who have audio or visual impairments know when it is safe to enter and exit the vehicle.”
Guangzhou offers Pony.AI China’s first taxi license
For what is thought to be a first in China, Pony.ai has been awarded a permit in Guangzhou to operate 100 AVs as traditional taxis. The license allows Pony to charge for rides in its autonomous vehicles, and the fleet will be held to the same rules that regulate traditional human-operated cabs.
The more you know!
Watch a VW ID Van bop about Munich (Carscoops)
Research and Academia
Subjectively safer cycling infrastructure
“This paper evaluates the stated preferences of motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians for safe transport infrastructures. It relies on data collected by the non-governmental organization FixMyBerlin in cooperation with a German newspaper, Berliner Tagesspiegel. 21,401 participants assessed a total of 1900 different traffic situations, generating a sample of 468,379 opinions on street design elements including major streets, side streets and pavements. Results point at the importance of wide bicycle tracks and the separation of cyclists from motorized and pedestrian traffic. The removal of parking next to bicycle lanes also has great importance for improving perceptions of safety.”
Twelve fullproof ways to get cars out of cities
“…we have screened nearly 800 peer-reviewed reports and case studies from throughout Europe, published since 2010, seeking those that quantified where and how cities had successfully reduced car use. The most effective measures, according to our review, are introducing a congestion charge, which reduces urban car levels by anywhere from 12% to 33%, and creating car-free streets and separated bike lanes, which has been found to lower car use in city centers by up to 20%.”
Extra Bits + Bobs
Jobs you should apply for!
CoMoUK is hiring for a Shared Transport and Rail Integration Officer. The organisation is full of seriously wonderful transport wonks who are committed to delivering the best of shared transportation. Please reach out if you’d like an intro!
Newsletters you should subscribe to!
OK so a couple weeks ago I was playing around with this new Substack feature where you can recommend newsletters, and well, I think I accidentally sent you all a recommendation without any context! SO! I am here to formally encourage you to subscribe to ATFR reader, friend, and streets advocate John Surico’s monthly newsletter, Streetbeat. It includes a pa\rklet of the month feature and cute pictures of his cat. What more could you want!!
That’s all from me. Have a beautiful weekend friends.
* Full disclosure, I am on the board of SFBC and am very biased that the org deserves your funding and support!!