Along for the Ride #176
Celebrating Black History 🖤
Heya friends, happy
This is the first edition of Black History Month and I’m excited to dive and share resources, stories and research about the contribution of Black leaders on the transportation industry, as well as opportunities to show up and support Black people this month (and all months!).
Celebrating Black History
On a personal level, one of things I struggle with most is holding the both/and experience of witnessing the Black experience, especially here in the US. It is the conundrum of needing to not shy away from the abusive, institutional, and insidious nature of racism that White people like myself continue to perpetuate and uphold. And on the other hand, it’s important to not overlook the Black joy that abounds us all—to not think of the Black experience as a monolithic experience defined by innate sadness. I have found that in the midst of my own learning, pairing it with action helps me to hold this complexity. And so, below I’ll start out with some resources and opportunities to act in service of Black communities, and then I’ll share a quick note celebrating Black joy. Take what works for you, and leave the rest.
Currently there is a lot of heartbreak over the murder of Tyre Nichols by the Memphis police during a pre-textual traffic stop. For those who feel inclined to support Tyre’s family and contribute to a Memorial Fund you can do so here [quick warning to say the website image used is even more heart-breaking]. You can also read about how fucked up pretext stops are here (I don’t swear much here, but I promise you this occasion calls for it … sorry Dad!).
Manuel Terán meanwhile was killed while protesting Cop City in Atlanta, a planned military-grade training facility on in Weelaunee Forest. While Terán was not Black, their protest against the urbanism of incarceration is intricably linked with anti-racism and demonstrated the heart of their allyship. You can donate to Terán’s memorial fund here.
If you’re in San Francisco with me (👋) on February 7th the SF Board of Supervisors will have a hearing about reparations, and you can call in to voice your support. They will be discussing the draft African-American Reparations Plan. The plan includes multiple proposals of financial compensation for Black residents who meet specific tenure criteria, ranging from debt relief to paying a one-time, lump-sum of $5 million. You can read the draft plan here.
For those of you in the UK, Esri has partnered with Black Geographers to offer two scholarships in the UK each year (one for Undergraduate students and another for Masters students). Applications are now open and you should probably share it out with your network!
P.S. If I’m the only one in your network talking about this, this is a helpful nudge to broaden your content sources. I’d highly recommend starting with The Black Urbanist.
And to Black Futures 🖤
I am currently in the midst of reading Rest as Resistance by Tricia Hersey, which links grind culture and white supremacy—and how to address both and work towards Black liberation. See quote below for a lil’ snippet:
“There are so many stories that have been hidden, erased, and lost. Americans know very little about their own history and even less about world history. We are moving through life exhausted, disconnected, and out of touch from who we are, where we come from, and the implications of this today. Truly knowing the extreme details of history has the potential to open up a large well of possibilities, motivation, blueprints, guidance, and inspiration.”
Government and Policy
How do kids behave around cars?
This article explores the psychology behind how children interact with cars in urban contexts. The hope is that these insights can help influence vehicle design, street design, and traffic rules to reduce traffic violence on our most vulnerable road users: kiddos.
“When it comes to vehicle safety, Plumert wonders whether regulators should be doing more to acknowledge the unique psychology of children, too — especially as automated driving technology becomes more and more prevalent. Robocars, after all, might not be able to recognize the sometimes erratic ways that kids sometimes move through the world, unless we take the time to teach them.”
Secretary Pete allocates $800 million to eliminate traffic deaths in the US
Pete Buttigieg has a way of saying all the right things for people like me. All I have ever wanted to hear from the highest ranking transport nerd in the country is that traffic violence “is a preventable crisis”. And where others have been all talk and no game, Buttigieg is putting federal funding behind his game to the tune of $800m. On the level of traffic violence in the US, Buttigieg had this to say:
“In its proportions, it’s on par with gun violence, about 40,000 people a year. But here’s the other thing, and we recognize this about gun violence, but not about roadway deaths: The U.S. is out of proportion with most other developed countries on roadway deaths.”
The War on Cars podcast has an episode with Dr. Ian Walker, a professor of environmental psychology at Swansea University in Wales. He talks about how cars tend to result in illogical thinking that doesn’t follow the same norms seen elsewhere in society. If listening to podcasts isn’t your thing you can read Dr. Walker’s research paper, “Motornomativity: How Social Norms Hide a Major Public Health Hazard” to get all the information your heart desires.
People for Bikes has released their “Best New U.S. Bike Lanes” for 2022, and well if you’re looking for a spot of optimism this list might be the place to start.
Did you know AVs are going poorly in San Francisco?
Well if not, the New York Times, The Verge, Vice, Business Insider, TechSpot, TechCrunch, the San Francisco Chronicle and about 4,000 other publications have written about the plethora of issues seen around the city. From cars stalling at intersections, driving into construction sites, and having residents call 911 on the vehicles things are going … well swimmingly 😂.
The more you know!
Washington DC passes bill to make riding the bus free (CNBC)
What’s the point of parking garages anyway? (The Conversation)
Geneva launches autonomous bus project (World Economic Forum)
Walkable neighbourhoods see increasing home prices (Slate)
Coventry and Solihull awarded £15m for driverless shuttles (BBC)
Uber and Lyft forced to go all electric in NY before 2030
Recently, Mayor Eric Adams announced that Uber and Lyft will be required to be zero emission by 2030. If this proposal is acted upon, it has the potential to affect an estimated 100,000 for-hire vehicles in the city alone. The mayor will likely implement his plan through the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, which regulates the for-hire vehicle industry, including Uber and Lyft.
Every time I read about Elon Musk these days my mind goes, “drama, drama, drama”. And this week is no different. Regulators are investigating Musk’s role in shaping Tesla’s autonomous vehicle car claims (you know, the ones that said they’d be here already).
“SEC officials are weighing whether Musk may have inappropriately made forward-looking statements, said the person. An investigation by the agency’s enforcement unit doesn’t always lead to consequences, but can result in lawsuits, fines or other civil penalties for companies and executives.”
Volvo’s latest AV sensors are hard to find
The latest design from Volvo’s features Luminar’s new sensors that—by comparison—make most other AV sensors look like a desktop computer from 1994. One thing I do like about the clunkier models is that it is incredibly obvious the little robot car is indeed on a lil’ learning expedition. As sensors get smaller and more covert, it becomes increasingly harder for people to actually tell the difference between the two.
AV car market expected to generate $15.55 billion by 2030
I’m not really one for Market Reports™️ (especially those that continue to talk about the Maximal Profits™️ the AV industry will see this decade). However, I do see merits in sharing them in terms of keeping us all aware of how despite the numerous road blocks, those who estimate and place value, are still as convinced as ever. And with hundreds of billions have been invested, it’s not infeasible that a *fraction* of that investment come back around (although I reserve the right to remain skeptical).
The more you know!
UK electric bus company, Arrival, lays off 50% (!) of their work force (The Verge)
Research and Academia
Mobility justice in rural California
“This report describes the scope and scale of car access in rural areas, identifies barriers that rural zero-car and car-deficit households face in their mobility and access, and proposes personal and policy-level adaptations that would help these households achieve their mobility..
First, a commonality uniting the interview participants was the practice of relying on their social networks to get rides or obtain vehicle access.
Second, the cost of car ownership and operation was high, placing vehicles out of reach for many.
Third, alternatives to car access included public transit, medical transportation services, and car sharing, put poor availability often caused individuals to forgo trips.
Interview participants shared a variety of options they saw as solutions to overcoming their barriers to lack of car access. While obtaining a vehicle was not absent from their preferred solutions, most preferred better personal access to transportation without the burden of private car ownership.”
“The question is, should Singapore introduce AVs into our transportation mix? What are the benefits and what are the risks of adoption? And if the answer is positive, we should consider whether Singapore is ready to include AVs into our transportation mix. Furthermore, with one of the highest population densities in the world, we need to consider the potential impact AVs will make on our urban landscape and the existing built environment. Compromises and investments will have to be made before we can take advantage of the benefits that AVs can bring.”
Will we blames autonomous vehicles?
[Behind a not-so-fun paywall! I feel infuriated with the articles use of the word “accident” as opposed to collision, but that’s a separate-ish issue.]
“A new study finds that people are likely to hold autonomous vehicles liable for accidents even when they’re not at fault. One of the challenges facing the industry is trying to estimate how much liability AV firms will have for accidents involving their vehicles. In the U.S., makers of driver-assistance technologies that are installed in most newer vehicles have already faced a stream of accident-related lawsuits for issues such as defective steering sensors and camera misalignments. As fully autonomous vehicles become more common, they will inevitably be involved in accidents.”
That’s all from me. Have a beautiful week
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