Along for the Ride #179
Falling out of love (with the car)
Heya friends, happy
Last week I learnt that many readers of this newsletter severely underestimate the lyrical prowess of the Bare Naked Ladies (it’s fine, we can work on that issue another week). I have however been toying around with adding some links to additional content I’ve been reading / listening that exists beyond the realm of ~urban transportation~ so you may find some additional musings in “Extra Bits + Bobs” this week and moving forward (pinky promise not to become a lifestyle blogger lol).
This week however, we’re wrapping up Black History Month with our last special edition of Celebrating Black Excellence. So let’s dive right in there.
Celebrating Black Excellence
Design thinking with Kimberely Dowdell (AIA President-Elect)
This interview with AIA President-Elect Kimberely Dowdell is super interesting. She talks about everything from her morning routine, design philosophy, and her commitments to designing better buildings, and thus better cities.
“One of my guiding principles is my own mission statement, which I developed a while ago: Improve the quality of life of people’s lives by design. Our professional duty is to protect the health and welfare of the public. So designing things is cool, but the values of architecture are based on health and safety, on enriching and extending people’s lives. I’m committed to really living those values.”
How a highway that doesn’t exist is hurting a Black community in Louisiana
Bloomberg has a fascinating, frustrating and heartbreaking article about a housing development that was built over a never-been-built piece of highway. As the predominantly Black neighbourhood became populated, the myth of highways never built re-emerged. With the threat of a new highway being built, all investment in the community ground to a halt because it was assumed in short-order the whole neighbourhood would be demolished.
“In November 2021, Glover wrote an open letter to President Biden, published in the Shreveport Times, calling the unbuilt highway an “interstate highway version of the Sword of Damocles that has been hung over the Allendale neighborhood for more than three decades” and imploring the US Department of Transportation to step in and kill the project.”
Government and Policy
Young people are falling out of love with cars
You, me, my mom and your weird transport-loving friend from university all probably have already read this article but it’s worth sharing. The Economist has a deep dive on how young people in wealthier countries are falling out of love with cars. It kicks off with a story of my fav transit-loving teenager from Portland Adah Crandall.
“Getting a driving licence was once a nearly universal rite of passage into adulthood. Now it is something that a growing minority of young people either ignore or actively oppose, into their 20s and beyond. That, in turn, is starting to create more support for anti-car policies being passed in cities around the world.
From New York to Norway, a growing number of cities and local politicians are passing anti-car laws, ripping out parking spaces, blocking off roads and changing planning rules to favour pedestrians over drivers. Anne Hidalgo, the socialist mayor of Paris, boasts of “reconquering” her city for its residents.”
Wish the framing was less “anti-car” and more “pro-really-wonderful-safe-and-sustainable-and-magical-streets”.
International AVs face remote driving ban in England and Wales
Currently remote driving is only used in controlled environments—such as farms and warehouses—in the UK. Future applications, such as for the delivery of rental vehicles, faces a potential ban. “The technology allows for vehicles to be controlled remotely, potentially in public spaces. There is currently no UK law for a driver to be in the vehicle they are controlling.” See BBC coverage here.
What LA’s biking fatalities teach us about protected infrastructure
With 85% of LA’s bicycle fatalities happening on roads without bike lanes, there is a clear correlation between safer infrastructure and staying alive. “Particularly alarming, the organization says, is the concentration of deadly collisions in low-income neighborhoods and areas with a heavy percentage of Black and Hispanic residents.”
The more you know!
NYC is getting a Public Realm Officer (NYT)
Paris plans to invest in an extensive cycling network for the Olympics (City of Paris)
Brussels plans for a 100% EV public transport fleet by 2023 (BFMTV)
Waymo expands service in San Francisco
Waymo is expanding its AV empire with this latest expansion which includes the addition of coverage in the Mission, Dogpatch and Potrero Hill. Areas such as Russian Hill, Chinatown, downtown and South Park are still restricted only to Waymo employees and their guests.
Tesla co-founder calls Autopilot “crap”
I might have a new friend in a Tesla co-founder, which is not a sentence I expected to type out this week. Tesla cofounder Martin Eberhard said he's “not a big fan” of autonomous cars and that it is a “mistake to think of a car as a software platform.” Sadly that is where our agreement ends as his interview with Insider continues: “I'd like to see people thinking about making cars that people can drive.” So close, yet so far Martin!
Jaguar Land Rover expands AV business
The quotes from this article are actually quite funny, including this snippet: “it’s all pally-pally with Nvidia these days.” Going to start incorporating pally-pally into future editions of this newsletter, just wait.
But in all seriousness, JLR already has six AV hubs spread around the world, and is set to open another three new European locations (in Bologna, Madrid and Munich).
The more you know!
GM delays launching 5,000 Cruise Origins this year surprising nobody (Detroit Free Press)
Nikola announces they will introduce a driver assist program next year (CNBC)
Nissan pilots AVs in London as part of ServCity pilot (The Independent)
Research and Academia
Environmental impacts of shared AVs under different pricing strategies
New research out of China reviews the energy and environmental impacts of AVs, based on various pricing strategies. This article is particularly interesting because it heavily weights land use and housing policty, often overlooked in conversations about AVs!
“ …existing research on estimating the energy and environmental effects of shared autonomous electric vehicles generally ignores the interaction between land-use and transportation systems. This study, therefore, analyzes the long-term effects of shared autonomous vehicles (SAVs) from the perspective of land use and transportation integration. Different SAV pricing scenarios are also developed to explore the optimal pricing strategy for low carbon–oriented SAVs.”
The impact of AVs on urban parking
“This report looks at the potential impacts autonomous vehicle deployment could have on parking demand and how that might impact urban development. The study focused on three distinct areas of San Francisco. The research found that, contrary to headlines about AV impacts on parking, achieving large reductions in parking demand based on AV deployment will not be easy.”
Autonomous vehicles are progress at a price
“I don’t advocate slamming the brakes on the race to implement autonomous driving. But as Newton’s third law of motion states, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. While the number of automobile deaths and injuries will be vastly reduced when the technology becomes widespread, there are some things I’m going to miss once we’ve made the transition to a world of driverless cars. Here are a few of those Newtonian unintended consequences.”
Extra Bits + Bobs!
Aizen: The Podcast. My very cool friend (and AFTR reader!) Al produced this podcast about Aizen‚ an Afghani refugee and his journey. It is incredibly moving and at times haunting. I think many readers of this newsletter would enjoy giving it a listen.
Butter! I made butter for the first time in my entire life this past weekend and I was … amazed by how easy and delightful it was. Maybe you also love butter and feel inclined to try it out.
That’s all from me. Have a beautiful weekend friends.
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Thanks for yet another great newsletter! I was surprised and sad to read in der Spiegel last week that Germany seems to be going in the other direction when it comes to being dependent on the car. It's no news that Germany loves its cars but to hear young Germans saying that they're increasingly dependent on owning a car, new records in people taking drivers licenses, record sales of SUVs etc. I didn't expect this. It's a long but very interesting read in German (translation works just fine): https://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/service/mobilitaet-tempolimit-und-ausbau-der-autobahnen-deutschlands-kulturkampf-ums-auto-a-efa9ec0d-f9d8-4b70-a20b-292404f02539?nlid=E421B59B-B69D-43B0-BF12-C4F819678ECB