Some recent stories about the impact of ride-hailing companies, particularly Uber, and the longer term implications.

First, another confirming story that ride-hailing is measurably increasing congestion – from Tech Crunch:

In San Francisco … ride-hailing services are undoubtedly partially to blame (for the rise in traffic and congestion), but not entirely to blame, according to a new study from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. …

Between 2010 and 2016, according to the SFCTA, ride-hailing services accounted for:

  • 51 percent of the increase in daily vehicle hours of delay
  • 47 percent of the increase in vehicle miles traveled
  • 55 percent of the average speed decline
  • 25 percent of total vehicle congestion citywide

So not surprising, then, that Uber wants to address the problem of congestion by supporting a mechanism that would reduce ‘free-riders’ on the streets they help congest.

From the Seattle Times:

Uber says it plans to spend money lobbying for congestion pricing in Seattle as part of a $10 million push for “sustainable mobility” policies in various cities.

The ride-hail app company and its rival, Lyft, have previously expressed support for the idea of tolling downtown streets in Seattle, where Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration is working to develop a proposal.

But Uber’s new commitment to actively press for congestion pricing in the city, shared with The Seattle Times last week, could be the biggest boost yet for an effort certain to encounter political roadblocks, including concerns about affordability.

Uber thinks big and it thinks strategically – literally globally.   It can afford to.

From Vanity Fair:

The Wall Street Journal reported that the company had received proposals from Wall Street banks estimating its initial public offering at a market valuation as high as $120 billion, virtually twice its current private-market valuation, and larger than the combined market capitalizations of General Motors , Ford Motor Company, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. …

Uber … has a large, global footprint, and is possibly a primordial holding company for a series of future companies …  Uber already has one of the largest food-delivery platforms around today, and it is expanding its freight business, which has the possibility to grow infinitely. And then there’s the driverless car I.P. that the company owns, not to mention the investments in other global ride-sharing services …

“Some people see Uber as a car company,” (an Uber insider said).  “Uber sees itself as the next potential Amazon.”

I think this is bigger than even the evolution of another Amazon (if it first doesn’t buy or dominate Uber.)

We’re still thinking about transportation as essentially a problem of hardware: expensive pieces of metal crammed with technology, jamming the streets and highways. Motordom 1.0.

We analyse the problem from the point of view of the user, each distinguished by the hardware of choice: car or truck drivers, transit users, cyclists (and okay, maybe shoe wearers).

We assume this is primarily a problem for government – the owner of the streets, the licensor of vehicles, the regulator of traffic.

We need to shift our focus to Motordom 2.0 – the integration of every imaginable mode of movement, joined by information technology, delivered to us by a service provider who sells us transportation in the way telecommunications providers sell us data.  The TSP: the Transportation Service Provider.

We should be thinking not about hardware but about what Motordom 2.0 will really be about – issues of ownership, regulation, taxation and equality.  Above all, the vision we have for our urban environments, what we build, for whom, and who gets to decide.

Uber or its successor will likely want to be that decider – the shaper of cities, the creator of wealth, the leader of civilization.  Because that’s what we call what we build, how we move, and who rules over it all.

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Charleson Park, Saturday, while I escaped for a few hours from the steady drumbeat of 2018 civic election tweets, robocalls, e-mail and paper flyers. The well-known bullshit overdrive.

I do have to express my disappointment that there’s no one busting photo-ops in a chicken suit. What the hell, already!  Have we grown up a bit or something?

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There’s absolutely no way to sugar coat this: the previous Liberal provincial government’s 2014 decision to increase speed limits on some major rural highways has resulted in a 118 per cent increase of fatalities on those roads.

A comprehensive study published in Sustainability was co-authored by physicians at Vancouver General  and road safety engineers at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan). The study confirms that  “fatalities, injuries, crashes and insurance claims on some B.C. roads are linked to a 2014 decision by the former provincial government to raise speed limits on the rural highways” as reported in the Vancouver Sun.

The study surmises that “communities across Canada, especially those with slippery winter roads or those where roads traverse mountainous terrain, “should learn from this experience and resist pressure from pro speed advocates to raise speed limits without due consideration to road safety.”

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It’s one thing to say that you are going to build a world-class separated bikeway facility on San Francisco’s Embarcadero, which has a scenic three-mile stretch along the waterfront. It’s another thing to get it implemented as development continues along this stretch, which of course attracts more vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

That has led to conflicts between users on this popular stretch of street, with the Embarcadero “now on the City’s High Injury Network”.  That ominous terminology refers to 6 per cent of the network of streets where 60 per cent of severe and fatal pedestrian injuries occur.

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But this time and place is different~here is Lady Florence Norman going to work in London in 1916, 100 years ago.  Lady Norman was an active suffragette and also ran a hospital in France during the first  world war. Her scooter called an “Autoped” was a birthday present and was one of the first examples of motorized”kick” scooters~you can see there is no seat.

Mashable notes that these were “manufactured in New York and Germany by Krupps, the U.S. postal service tested the Autoped as a means of fast transport for its special delivery service. The foldable scooter was also reportedly used as a quick getaway machine by New York gangs, racing down narrow alleys beyond the reach of police cars.”

And while scooters and e-bikes are seen as the sustainable way for travel, in the 1930’s these scooters were used on military bases, and increasingly as a response to fuel rationing. In one hundred years, scooters may have become faster and more efficient, but their basic purpose~transporting people without the size, bulk and fuel cost of a vehicle~remains the same.



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