Eric Jaffe, “Milan Abruptly Suspended Congestion Pricing and Traffic Immediately Soared“, CityLab. A very popular congestion pricing scheme in Milan was suspended for an 8-week period during a court challenge. Researchers evaluated the impacts on driver behaviour during the suspension. Somewhat surprisingly drivers immediately took back to the roads the first day of the suspension. (It was assumed there would be at least a minor delay in the return to pre-congestion charging behaviour). The study also made the following conclusions about the overall effects of the program:
The pricing scheme results in 27,000 fewer cars entering Area C per day—a 14.5 percent decline in traffic… The researchers find that most drivers respond to the charge by traveling at different times or taking different routes, as expected.
Milan’s program reduced air pollution (as measured by carbon emissions and PM10 particulate matter) from 6 to 17 percent. That’s a huge figure when you consider that Area C is just 5 percent of metro Milan—and that the city already has a pretty clean vehicle fleet, owing to a previous congestion fee that exempted cleaner cars. The researchers estimate the value of that environmental benefit at $3 billion a year.
Commuter routes adjacent to public transportation saw smaller traffic changes than those without similar access. In other words, many of the people who took public transit to work continued to do so even once the cordon price was suspended. This finding suggests that people are more than happy shifting out of cars if they can find homes with good transit access to work.
“11-Year-Old Kid Shames “Whiny Entitled” Adults Who Hate Safer Silver Lake Streets“, Curbed LA. In a lively debate about a recent road diet in Los Angeles, 11-year old Matlock Grossman addresses the hysteric crowd with a show-stopper….
Clearly there are motorists out there who are not mature enough to share the road without having the rules painted on the road to show who goes where. The road diet, by design, is meant to slow down cars because – motorists are the problem.
Even if there are zero bicyclists taking advantage of the bike lanes, it doesn’t matter. The road diet effectively reduces collisions and the statistics prove this.\Stop bullying and victim-blaming the pedestrians and bicyclists as being the problem.
If motorists acted towards women, or another group of people, the way you act towards cyclists, people would be horrified by your hateful words and violent actions.
I don’t understand why driving a car makes you think you’re more important than someone else. You’re not.
It’s whiny entitled behavior you wouldn’t tolerate from a kid, why should I tolerate it from adults?
In entirely unsurprising news the “upscale” San Francisco private bus service Leap has filed for bankruptcy. Recall the media portrayal of the start-up targeting an “intended clientele” with amenities including wi-fi, juice bars, smart phone ticketing and of course the de rigueur recycled wood interiors…
Jarrett Walker, one of the more lucid skeptics of the boosterism associated with vehicle technology in urban transportation, nailed the business model logic six months ago in the tweet below: “pleasantly uncrowded bus = failing business“.
Owen Williams, “The Netherlands is getting self-driving shuttle buses, but they’re slow as hell“, TNW News. A small pod-like driverless shuttle will be tested for travel between Wageningen and the Ede-Wageningen train station. It’s not surprising that they are slow, but they will also not work under the, erm, challenging conditions of darkness or congestion.
The vehicles won’t have a driver, but will be monitored from a remote control room to ensure they’re functioning safety. There’s even a backup plan if the WePod’s self-driving abilities don’t work out: a joystick will be installed.
What’s unique is that the WePod will travel on public roads, without designated lanes or barriers. For now they won’t run in challenging conditions such as bad weather, at night or during rush hour.
Annie Gaus, “When will driverless cars hit the streets? Uber, policy experts have wildly different timelines“, San Francisco Business Times.
The participants … all agreed on the benefits of driverless cars to reduce emissions and congestion on Bay Area roadways. But they disagreed broadly on exactly when autonomous vehicles — defined as cars that can operate without human participation — will be traffic-ready and available to anyone.
“In the 2020s” predicted Ashwini Chhabra, who leads policy development at Uber.
“2075 maybe,” countered Dr. Steven Shladover, a program manager at California Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology, a UC Berkeley research institute.
Some of the disparity lies in the definition of driverless cars. According to guidelines defined by the DMV and the Society of Automotive Engineers, there are several different levels of automation — some of which already exist in driver assistance features like active lane control.
Coral Davenport, “VW Is Said to Cheat on Diesel Emissions; U.S. Orders Big Recall“, The New York Times. A widely reported news story where Volkswagen has been charged for violating Federal EPA (US) clear air regulations by circumventing air quality testing systems. Apparently the cars software system detects the emissions testing device and turns on full emission control only for the test. Hopefully future cars won’t be able to game their required “pedestrian detection functionality.”
The Environmental Protection Agency accused the German automaker of using software to detect when the car is undergoing its periodic state emissions testing. Only during such tests are the cars’ full emissions control systems turned on. During normal driving situations, the controls are turned off, allowing the cars to spew as much as 40 times as much pollution as allowed under the Clean Air Act, the E.P.A. said.
Driverless cars will need to update their operating system to consider a much more intimate use of city streets as per international Park(ing) Day. Auckland’s event was well documented by Non-Motorist (@bythemotorway) below and part I, part II, and part III.
Tom Fucoloro, “Seattle will let neighborhoods design their own crosswalks“, Seattle Transit Blog. Events like Park(ing) Day and actions like tactical urbanism are civic protests designed to challenge the current conception of city streets. Recall how Mike Lydon told the story about Seattle promoting street parties by providing a streamlined permitting system. Seattle has now created a community crosswalk program where residents can design their own crosswalks. Community action is leading the charge in democratising city streets, and eventually institutions respond.
DOT and Seattle Department of Neighborhoods are jointly working on this program to allow interested community members to showcase their neighborhood’s unique culture and history or just liven up an intersection crosswalk with a colorful design. This is a great way for the city to celebrate our neighborhood communities in a creative and visual manner.
Noah Smith, “The Threat Coming by Land“, The Economist.
In a city or suburb, land’s value comes from location. People want to be close to the companies where they work. Companies want to be close to the people they employ. Stores want to be close to the consumers they serve, and consumers want to be close to the stores. Companies in the same industry want to be close to one another, so they can keep an eye on rivals, absorb ideas and poach talent. And people want to be close to other people in general, so they and their children can have friends, enjoy culture and meet their romantic partners…
As our economies become more complex, there are more kinds of stores, more cultural activities and more industries to cluster together. Therefore, the value of location increases, which pushes up the value of land. It doesn’t matter how much empty land is out there — who wants to live on the Kansas prairie? What matters for the value of modern land is the incentive to locate close to other people..
What can we do? One approach, advocated by the 19thcentury economist Henry George, is to tax the value of locations. Essentially, a Land Value Tax is a property levy with exemptions for development.
“How Tube strikes help Londoners“, The Economist. An interesting study on how transit strikes shift passenger commute travel patterns, sometimes for the better.
The results are surprising. Three-quarters of commuters were forced to change their route during the strike, either because stations were closed or because congestion was unbearable. But once the strike finished, not all of them went back to their old habits. Instead, about 5% of the group decided to stick with their new route.
Before the strike, it seems, many Londoners had unwittingly been taking a suboptimal route to work. The stylised Tube map, designed by Harry Beck in 1933, distorts London’s geography. Beck was pilloried for showing Wimbledon and South Wimbledon to be miles apart, when in fact it is an easy walk from one to the other. Add to that the different average speeds at which trains hurtle along—the Waterloo & City line goes at 47kph (29mph), compared with the Hammersmith & City line’s 15kph—and it is small wonder that many commuters choose the “wrong” route to work. The strike made them realise their mistake.