Motordom
June 14, 2017

Daily Scot: Motordom transformed by ride hailing

From CBC:

According to a study from RethinkX, an independent think-tank in San Francisco, greater demand for electric cars, coupled with increased demand for ride sharing, will eventually eliminate the need for dealerships altogether.
The authors of the report — technology investor James Arbib and Stanford University economist Tony Seba — aren’t the first to prognosticate the death of dealerships, but it is the speed with which they think it will happen that is notable.
They believe it will occur in the next seven years….
They estimate the tipping point will occur once the electric vehicle battery range surpasses 320 kilometres and electric car prices drop to the $20,000-dollar range. Currently, a low-end electric vehicle costs somewhere in the $30,000 range. …
Automotive experts agree that all roads lead to electric, but the road there could be long and winding.
“There are some serious question marks and a lot of assumptions in the report,” said Dennis DesRosiers, an Ontario-based auto industry analyst.  …  DesRosiers likens this report to the mass optimism around hybrid vehicles. When they were introduced 17 years ago, the thinking was they would account for half of the cars sold by 2020.
“The reality is, after 17 years, they account for less than one per cent, with sales in the last four years going down,”  DesRosiers said.
That’s why he doesn’t think dealerships will soon join the list of businesses lost to advancing technology, like video rental stores. …
Arbib and Seba are nonetheless confident of their forecast, and believe that changing attitudes to car ownership will ultimately imperil dealerships.
Again, it all comes down to economics. According to their report, “Using transport as a service will be four to 10 times cheaper per mile than buying a new car, and two to four times cheaper than operating an existing paid-off vehicle by 2020.”
It will basically be cheaper to ride-share than keep a car (or two) in your garage.

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From the Verge:

Ford … is acquiring Chariot, a private, crowdsourced shuttle service based in San Francisco, and is investing in Motivate, the largest operators of bike-share programs in the US. It also announced plans to set up a new division within the company tasked with advising cities directly about “mobility solutions,” CEO Mark Fields told The Verge Friday.

It’s another sign that Ford, one of the oldest and most storied car makers in the world, is aware of that the writing on the wall is not favorable to car companies. Consumers are trending away from personal car ownership, and toward ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, which have both been recently emphasizing carpooling as the next big idea in transportation. …

Chariot, which has been operating in San Francisco since 2014, is part of a recent trend of bus startups that use algorithms to develop transit routes based on user demand. Using the app, customers can book a seat in one of the companies blue-and-white shuttle vans for around $4 a trip. …
This isn’t Ford’s first flirtation with quasi-public bus services. Last February, the company teamed up with Bridj, a data-driven pop-up bus company, and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority to roll out a fleet of shuttle vans that residents can summon with the tap of an app. Ford has also unveiled several “smartbike” prototypes in recent years that it envisions as part of a broader mobility system that integrates cars, bikes, and various other forms of transportation into a seamless, networked whole.

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Scot: Last month I witnessed first hand the building boom currently underway in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighbourhood, with new towers taking over the skyline in seemingly all directions.  What I found most refreshing was the great use of coloured glass and accents.  Blues, greens, oranges throughout on windows, louvers and moldings adding bursts of colour during grey winter skies.

This seems to be the opposite design theme of Vancouver’s new generation of Starchitect towers which rely on bold forms (curves, shards, jenga cubes) than colour.

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From our eclectic reader, Daily Scot:

Many longtime residents of San Francisco, Miami and other hot U.S. cities complain of “Manhattanization” when developers put up 20- or 30-story apartment complexes. In Portland, Oregon, they’re debating the wisdom of 40 stories.

They should try 100 stories on for size — or not, if they value the amenities of urban life. That’s the height of a megatower proposed for downtown Seattle. It was “downsized” from 102 stories after aviation authorities warned the tower could interfere with air traffic. …

What’s so terrible about megatowers? They cause wind tunnels at ground level. They block out the sun, putting huge swaths of city in shadow. They create canyons trapping air pollution and heat in summer. They kill others’ views.

Michael Mehaffy, an architectural critic based in Portland, Oregon, has likened super-tall residential buildings to vertical gated communities cut off from the neighbors far below. Furthermore, the buildings are often half empty.

That’s because these ultra-expensive spaces are being marketed to a global elite seeking a safe place to stash their money. Billions are pouring in from Russia, China,Saudi Arabia and Latin America. …

Seattle’s proposed 4/C megatower — so named for its location at Fourth Avenue and Columbia Street — would be the tallest building on the West Coast. Why would Seattleites want such an outlandishly high structure?

“Vancouver envy,” Mehaffy responds, referring to the tower-crazed Canadian city about 150 miles to the north. “The irony of that is a lot of people there are upset at the development.”

Such discontent may explain one Vancouver developer’s announcement that his project’s $18 million penthouse would be sold only to a local resident. …

The theme this campaign season is ordinary Americans’ wanting their power back. That should extend to politics on the very local level. Residents have a right to determine the destiny of their neighborhoods.

The real estate barons often call the shots in America’s city halls. The people must tell the politicians inside that there will be consequences to ignoring their opinions.

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From Scot:

Yaletown shop owner petitions City Council to have parking space in front of store removed for public space.

This is the ambition of Chris White, owner of Nice Vice Creamery located in Yaletown.  I happened upon Nice Vice last month while wandering the neighbourhood.  When ordering, I noticed to my excitement a photo of a parklet on the counter with attached clipboard petitioning to remove the metered parking space in front and replace it with a place for the public to linger.

After inquiring with the staff, they summoned Chris from the back and I had a chance to meet the man who breaks the status quo when it comes to business owners’ obsession with ample car parking.  We shared our enthusiasm for cities; I passed on my notes from the recent Janette Sadik-Khan talk, along with some forwarded parklet design guidelines from San Francisco.  Chris was game!

The next step is to sell the idea to the neighbouring shop owners.  As expected, they still need convincing.  So let’s support Chris and Nice Vice Creamery and their vision for Yaletown’s first Parklet.  Visit the shop to sign the petition.

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The above, from the CBC.

And below, from Bloomberg:

And this, from Vaughn Palmer:

The Vancouver Sun – 27 Apr 2016 – NDP’S EBY STANDS OUT AS EFFECTIVE INQUISITOR
More often than not, the finance minister has been delivering the government responses to Eby on the real estate imbroglio. More often than not, he’s left the impression that the Liberals are in no rush to clean up the Wild West because the government is getting rich from the proceeds.

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From the Daily Scot:
Well, folks … that concludes my week-long look at the stuff that interests me in the world of urban design.  Thanks for your comments and for keeping the discussion going.  Whether we choose to agree or disagree, at the end of the day the goal is the same: better city building = happy residents.
Thank you, Gordon, for letting me command the switchboard while you’re on the mend.  God knows how you find the time to pump out as many insightful daily columns as you do.  Time is the enemy.

[And thanks to you, Scot, for a well-focused – and wonderfully illustrated – week of great examples and recommendations, especially from Auckland.  If any of that work was in North America, we’d all know about it.  Thanks to you, we now do.] .

I’m grateful for all you do to keep Vancouver moving forward.  I’ll leave you with a video of San Francisco’s Market Street in 1906 days before the earthquake set to beats from a favourite chillout artist of mine, Quantic:

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From the Daily Scot:

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Well, the good news is we have turned the corner and spring will soon be here, as I look out the window on this dark rainy day.  This means more opportunities to be in public spaces, people watching, interacting and enjoying city life.

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Last summer I noticed bars and restaurants (especially in Gastown) were successfully blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor space with spill-out seating and open-concept architecture.  The results place the customer in the public realm and draw the passerby into the social scene.

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We’ve got a long way to go before we get to the levels of a Melbourne where you feel like you’re walking through someone’s dining room, but we’re getting there.  Here are some more shots from around the city from the summer.


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From the Daily Scot:

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What do you get when you combine block upon block of old brick warehouses and functioning light industry with the creative set just a short cycle ride from Downtown?  The LA Arts District, of course.  Sandwiched between Skid Row, Little Tokyo and the Los Angeles River, the Arts District is a compact, walkable collection of restaurants, cafes, tech startups, loft apartments and, of course, artist studios.

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Originally a bastion for cheap studio space during the ’70s and ’80s, pioneering artists occupied abandoned buildings throughout the neighbourhood, many often living in the structures illegally.  The City of Los Angeles eventually passed an artist-in-residence ordinance making it legal for them to live in their studios, helping to encourage and promote the area as an incubator for the arts.   The district has been rapidly gentrifying ever since, with expensive infill apartments and loft conversions now commanding top dollar.

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The newer building development really stands out; portions of old factory shells are preserved while contemporary structures emerge from the upper floors.  It seems to be all about juxtaposing styles that are still very sympathetic to one another in scale.

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Not all residential development is well received, some such as this project, striking fear from residents that the character of this unique district will be destroyed.

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Signs of the neighbourhoods previous industry are everywhere.  Factories, warehouse doors, and numerous abandoned rail spurs serving old loading docks have all been preserved and re-purposed for work and play.
You can’t help but wonder if there are essentially two parallel gentrifications happening at the moment: the first consisting of original artists being pushed out due to soaring rents and the second involving industry (especially on the fringes) losing space to tech studios and creative startups.  Whatever the case, the LA Arts District is definitely one of the hottest hoods in town.

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From the Daily Scot:

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Continuing on with our look at beaten-down post-industrial cities on the rebound, Buffalo, New York recently peaked my interest after watching this short documentary on the cities renaissance by Katie Couric:
 

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The story is much the same as Cleveland: great historic architectural bones, cheap rents and real estate attracting millennials and tech startups, along with a wave of immigrant entrepreneurs adding to the cities culture.  Development is feeding off the energy: new hipster brewbars, restaurants and massive brownfield transformations adjacent to downtown are giving residents a reason to be proud once again of their town, while drawing those back home who bolted for greener pastures.
Canalside appears to be a new exciting precedent for residents and visitors alike of how a city can turn a neglected wasteland into a multi-use event and recreational space.  inspirational indeed.  More here:

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