If you read my blog on the regular, then you already know I’m gaming you with the headline. But, whether you’re a newcomer or a frequent reader, rejoice in this rare respite: for today, we’re not talking urban planning or transportation policy or corporate chicanery.
We’re talking basketball. We love that basketball.
As an enthusiastic cyclist and environmentalist, I’m quick to notice the tragedy of the commons flourishing on the premises of personal transportation, especially in the U.S.
Big cities are going car-free. London’s Mayor Saqid Khan’s newest “London Plan” envisions that 80% of all trips in London will be made by foot, bicycle or public transport by 2041.
Without this shift away from car use, London cannot continue to grow sustainably. […] The design and layout of development should reduce the dominance of cars, and provide permeability to support active travel (public transport, walking and cycling), community interaction and economic vitality.
London is one of a number of major cities committing to the future where getting from point A to point B doesn’t depend on personal cars.
Ask anyone with a vested interest in denouncing self-driving cars, and they’ll spout off a sound bite about the piles of legislation standing in the way of this technology’s growth. Be it repealing old laws or drafting new ones, the pace of government can only be accelerated so much by lobbyist dollars.
But ask them a second question: “what laws in particular?”
It’s the time of the year again when the sun is out and the streets are alive. From festivals to block parties — and my favorite, open streets — there’s just something about summer that makes a city more vibrant and human scale.
Open streets events in particular are important in more ways than one. Not only do they showcase streets as public spaces — as some of the largest public spaces we have in cities — but they provide a demonstration of ownership of space and remind us all that we have the right to the city in how we play, get around, and prioritize people over cars. More than this, they provide the incentives and cultural shift necessary to make lasting improvements to our urban landscapes.
In the past year I’ve been lucky enough to take part in several different iterations of open streets events across the country. In my observations of these events I noticed some interesting similarities as well as differences — in part due to geography perhaps, maybe even population, or just the preferences of the open streets coordinators. Coming from the perspective of an uninformed participant*, I’ve summarized my observations and the basic information for four open streets events, ranging from the Mission District in San Francisco, to Philadelphia, PA.
Open Street #1: Sunday Streets SF in the Mission District
Voice computing has been revving at the starting gate for some time. It’s finally having its breakout moment with the market success of Amazon’s Echo device and Alexa voice assistant. The emergence of voice has implications well beyond the opportunity to bark out Amazon orders and song requests to a compliant digital helper (The Economist): “Computers without screens and keyboards have the potential to be more useful, powerful and ubiquitous than people can imagine today.” At its best, it feels like casting spells.
But the magic of voice commands comes with a cost. Echo is a corporate owned microphone listening in on your living room. The whole system works better the more fully you let it in on all the details of your life. How prepared are you for that?
Often ignored by established companies, electric vehicles have been embraced by various start ups that aim to change the way we move. After early setbacks, EVs have experienced a renaissance. Of course Tesla has found success in the high-end electric car market, positioning itself as a challenger to legacy gas-engine car manufactures when it releases is lower-end model in 2018. But other companies are finding niches in all corners of the market. Zero Motorcycles have become very popular with the environmental conscious motorcyclist, and Faraday Bikes has encouraged people to ride their bicycles more often.
And then there’s Monday Motorbikes, a small company located in Brisbane, Calif. that aims for the market right between short-range bicycles and high-powered motorcycles Its fully electric moped may sound too niche for some, but these medium-range gas powered vehicles are the most popular vehicles in the world. In fact, the biggest selling vehicle of all time is the Honda Super Cub, which is in the same vehicle category as Monday Motorbike’s M1. The Honda Super Cub alone has sold more than 87 million units since its production started in 1958. Mopeds continue to be the preferred mode of transportation in Asia and Africa, due to their price range and fuel economy.
There is no doubt that transportation is linked to technological innovation, but can better transportation lead to more innovation? Some argue that public transport improves economic opportunities, enhances personal opportunities and drives economic growth within cities. But large infrastucture projects are expensive and can leave underserved neighborhoods behind. Here is when bicycles come in handy, which advocates say can greatly improve movement in urban areas, and they come with great health benefits for the riders. But getting more people on bikes has its challenges, like the fact that no ones wants to end a commute with the need to shower immediately after.
Faraday Bikes wants to solve that problem with their electric bikes, which they hope will brighten our commutes, help make our cities cleaner and more vibrant, and bring a smile to our faces. They want make people ride more bicycles, not because it is cheaper, faster, or better, but because people actually want to ride them. This is why the San Francisco-based company focused their efforts on the design, electric motor and app integration. Their goal: now you have no excuse not to use a bike to run errands, commute, or just go on a joy ride. — Octavio Raygoza
Small manufacturing operations can produce complex products without a prohibitively large capital investment
Local Motors was founded in 2007 by John “Jay” Rogers, an Ivy league-educated ex-Marine who wanted to marry his lifelong interest in vehicles with new economic models. The result: Local Motors, a company that, after eight years in business, now produces a series of vehicles built locally in a handful of facilities, but designed by a global community of enthusiasts.
When I first learned to drive, every mile I spent on the road was crucial. It was only through practice that I learned how to move with the flow of traffic, anticipate people’s behavior, and react to unexpected situations. Developing a truly self-driving car is no different. A self-driving car that can get you safely from door to door has to understand the nuances of the road, which only comes with experience.
That’s why our team has been focused on gaining real-world experience, and this month, we’ve reached a major milestone: we’ve now driven more than 2 million fully-autonomous miles on public roads. Put another way, if you consider the hours we’ve spent on the road, our cars now have the equivalent of 300 years of human driving experience.