Along for the Ride #165
Lettuce vote for safer streets 🥬
Heya friends, happy Friday!
Very excited to share a recent podcast interview I did with the team at Commutifi. Their team was so much fun to talk to, and we talked about transport (obviously), but also about how I started writing this newsletter and why. It’s felt the most me of my podcast interviews so far, and I’d love it if you gave it a listen!
To my readers in the UK, I hope this week in politics hasn’t totally upended your life. But if it has… lettuce have hope for a better future. I genuinely can not imagine things getting worse. But also……. !
To my readers in San Francisco, if you want to get involved with advocating for safer streets the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has ✨ plenty ✨ of opportunities to volunteer! A little bit of effort before election day goes a long way. Learn more about that here!
Alright onto ze news.
Government and Policy
TfL’s £80m bike lane budget … for 2023
This past week TfL announced their infrastructure budget for bike lanes for a humbling £80m. Currently wondering what most cities around the world could look like if they invested that amount of money in bike lanes for like … five years? There is an opportunity for this investment to be truly transformational. Now here’s hoping that Sadiq Khan doesn’t underspend this budget by £142m like he did between 2016-2019. 🙃
In a dose of optimism for my UK friends I’ll also share that this week the UK’s Automobile Association (yes, you read that correctly) shared that having more cycle routes is *good for drivers* and that not every journey needs to include a car. More on that here!
How the bike conquered Amsterdam
Along those lines, Bloomberg has a great piece about how Amsterdam came to the bike capital of the world. We often say that Rome wasn’t built in a decade, but neither was Amsterdam. It took decades for Amsterdam to become the poster-child of safe transportation infrastructure—fraught with backlash from drivers and a political system wholly different from what exists in other cities and countries.
“A few Dutch-specific factors helped this process along, Glaser noted. In addition to being very flat, the Netherlands has no domestic automobile industry to lobby for car-only infrastructure, and its national passenger rail network is so extensive that 85% of the population lives within biking distance of nearly three stations.”
And if you thought AVs will at least make us safer…
Think again! In only four months, NHSTA reported eleven crash deaths related to assisted-driving collisions. And yes, 10 out of the 11 collisions involved Teslas in “Autopilot” mode, not even “Full-Self Driving” mode.
Motional’s Go-To-Market strategy
TechCrunch has a rundown of Motional (Hyundai-Aptiv partnership) plans to conquer the AV world, namely by partnering with ride-hailing companies like Via, Uber and Lyft. Some words from their new VP of commercialization, Akshay Jaising:
“When it comes to scaling, it’s a unit economics discussion, and that’s where I think partnerships become critical. The ecosystem includes mature businesses that have done pieces of that value chain over time, and have become really good at it. And with that, they’ve got cost efficiencies that they’re able to translate to value for a customer.”
AV companies lost $40 billion in stock market valuation
Over the last two years. This whole article from Forbes actually surprised me and I’m amazed more people aren’t talking about it. It reviews new data from Crunchbase that considers how the AV market is detonating before our eyes. “Overall, the cohort of autonomous vehicle startups that Crunchbase tracked has declined 81% in value, from just over $51 billion when each debuted on the stock market to a current book value of just $9.16 billion.”
Waymo to launch service in Los Angeles
Because obviously what Angelinos need most is …. more cars. The intro to this article is “Would you rather be stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in your own car or in the backseat of a driverless Waymo vehicle?” which really makes me just want to sob-laugh. It’s almost as if we already know these cars aren’t going to solve congestion in Los Angeles… Why don’t we try investing more in *proven* interventions such as road diets, removing highways, rezoning for mixed-use, building protected bike lanes in one of the most temperate climates in the world! And so on. Anyways, forget me and science, Waymo wants to make money and they’ve set their sights on Los Angeles.
Research and Academia
Transport inequality and activity spaces in cities
New research from Shenzen University and UCL talk about my favourite thing: closing mobility and accessibility gaps between public transit riders and private car users. According to researchers achieving this is “key to tackling social exclusion and achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs).”
We should be building cities like Wakanda
This piece is an excerpt from CNN’s the Downside Up podcast, interviewing Vishaan Chakrabarti, director of Columbia University's Center for Urban Real Estate.
“I just think that is a really interesting paradigm to think about people, either living in super dense circumstances or really living in true rural hinterland and doing the things that we need everyone to do in farmland, which is grow our food and all of that stuff. And it would mean you would use a lot less land on this planet at the end of the day.
That vision of our cities does not comport with what our cities currently look like. Not close. And that's in large part due to the fact that most of our modern cities were built around cars, not people. (You'll notice there aren't cars in Wakanda.)”
That’s all from me. Have a beautiful weekend friends.
💖 P.S. Happy Midnights release day for all those who celebrate. 💖
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