November 22, 2015

A View of Future Roads

Matt McFarland writes in the Washington Post about the future of transportation.  Yup, like Yogi Berra, he knows it’s hard to get it right.
His article shares some thoughts about the probable emergence of autonomous motor vehicles — self-driving cars.  His thinking is informed by this report from KPMG.

Mr. McFarland does not treat the countervailing forces of increasing urban density, walkability, bikeability and transit that may offset significant amounts of motor vehicle traffic. This is the case here in dear old Soggyville, where motor vehicle traffic entering the downtown core is decreasing, even as jobs and population there are increasing.
The KPMG report, from their automotive practice, makes similar assumptions — namely that the future will be the same as today (all cars all the time) except with lots more fancy automation.
As Yogi Berra said:  “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”. It’s probably the case here, too.
Many thanks to Chris Bruntlett at Modacity for the link.

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Here’s the cover photo from the Holiday 2015 issue of the Globe Style Advisor (“The Globe and Mail Guide to Inspired Living”).
Images like this are becoming a more common tool to attract the attention of young urbanistas. In this case, those with bucks to spend on style.
I note several things, as any good propaganda-meister should: bike as cargo carrier; bike rider in ordinary city clothes (highly-stylish, no spandex in sight); urban setting; sturdy city bike with fattish tires, bell, lights, reflectors, chain guard, internally-geared hub, fenders and relaxed posture.


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PricewaterhouseCoopers has reported on the role of urban centres in the context of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economic and social growth. Dear old Soggyville comes in as number 2 – not so bad when Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai are well down the list.  Their work is called “Building Better Cities: Competitive, sustainable and livable metropolises in APEC (and how to become one).” They studied 28 urban centers over 39 indicators in their first-ever city study.
It is a helpful broad view of many of the factors that PwC think important in city-making.
Number 1 ranking goes to Toronto, surprisingly, due mostly to a balanced scorecard.
The full PwC report is here:  http://www.pwc.com/us/en/apec-ceo-summit/2015/apec-building-better-cities.pdf
How was the study done?  “Building Better Cities draws on the methodology devised for PwC’s Cities of Opportunity  study, and aims to shine a light on urban success in APEC cities by measuring their livability, sustainability, and competitiveness.”
What interested me most was the section on Connectivity, which, among other things, deals with moving physically around the city. Vancouver ranks low on mass transit coverage, and highish on traffic congestion.  Too, the concept of multi-modal transportation appears several times.
And on a topic that I follow closely, PwC has this to say:

“Getting more commuters out of cars or cabs and on to bikes is gathering momentum in numerous cities, such as Santiago and Mexico City. Ecobici, Mexico City’s government-backed bike-sharing program, for instance, is the largest in North America.”

On a currently hot Canadian topic, PwC weighs in on page 27:

Time for a new urban-national Partnership.  In researching this report, we heard repeatedly the call for urbanization to become a national issue—for a new collaboration between national and urban governments to rapidly resolve metropolitan issues, via an urbanization agency, if you will.”

It’s hard to disagree with this idea.
Good reading all. And many thanks to Jacob Parry at BC Business for the tip.
Ken Ohrn
Don’t forget to submit new material on PT.Guested@Gmail.com while Gordon is away.

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