Tagged: transportation

Research Briefs

While the Urbanism Next blog presents a compilation of research and articles from a variety of sources, we are also conducting our own research.  This page includes a series of papers on issues related to Urbanism Next.  The intention is to introduce you to some key topics that will be affecting how cities develop as they face ongoing and transformative changes in technology.

 

Urbanism Next Framework (Urbanism Next) One of the key challenges to addressing the impacts of emerging technologies such as autonomous vehicles, e-commerce and the sharing economy on cities is understanding the range of areas affected and how these areas are related. This draft Urbanism Next Framework organizes impacts based on four key areas – land use, urban design, transportation, and real estate – and relates those to the implications they will have on equity, health, the environment, the economy, and governance. This framework can help organize both city responses and research about emerging technology impacts.

 

Policy Brief: AVs in the Pacific Northwest: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in a Time of Automation (Howell, Larco, Lewis, and Steckler) summarizes the key takeaways from New Mobility in the Right-of-Way and AVs in the Pacific Northwest. (Both reports are included below.) This policy brief outlines our main findings and includes a series of process/procedural and policy recommendations for cities to consider as they adopt new mobility plans and enable automated vehicles.

 

 

New Mobility in the Right-of-Way (Howell, Larco, Lewis, and Steckler) explores the ways in which demand for the right-of-way, broadly, but the curb, more specifically, is changing. The curb has long been in high demand with multiple users vying for limited space, especially for the purposes of parking personal vehicles. However, TNCs and other services have helped to usher in a new age that involves an increased demand for short-term loading and micromobility device parking. AVs will likely exacerbate existing issues with the right-of-way and the curb, which is why it is important that cities tackle curb management in new ways. This report categorizes and summarizes efforts that are already underway in cities across the world to rethink curb management and identifies major research gaps. New Mobility in the Right-of-Way summarizes the second phase of research from a project involving the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance at the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (CNCA/USDN) and the cities of Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; and Vancouver, BC, and was generously supported by the Bullitt Foundation.

 

AVs in the Pacific Northwest: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in a Time of Automation (Larco, Howell, Lewis, and Steckler). The policy decisions made over the next 10 years that shape the deployment of autonomous vehicles (AVs) will have significant repercussions for our communities as well as environmental repercussions related to greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to climate change. In recognition of that, Urbanism Next worked with the cities of Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, BC to better understand how new mobility technologies such as AVs could affect greenhouse gas emissions thereby impacting their ability to achieve the goals in their respective climate action plans. This project grew out of a partnership between the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance at the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (CNCA/USDN) and the Cities of Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver and was generously supported by the Bullitt Foundation.

 

Rethinking Streets in an Era of Driverless Cars (Schlossberg, Riggs, Millard-Ball and Shay) presents ideas about how city planners, policy makers and community residents can address the introduction of autonomous vehicles. This white paper frames the introduction of AVs as an opportunity to rethink streets with purposeful and creative consideration about how this critical public good may best serve the public for generations to come.

 

 

The Impact of AVs and E-Commerce on Local Government Budgeting and Finance (Clark, Larco and Mann) is a new report from us here at Urbanism Next/SCI that takes you through a city’s budget —both revenues and expenditures — and describes the areas that will be affected as AVs become commonplace and e-commerce takes on an even larger role in retail. City leaders have to start planning for this future now if they want to have a voice in what AVs/e-commerce will do to their cities.

 

 

Re-Imagining Retail (Carlson and Larco) builds on earlier posts about the challenges retail is currently facing, we look at the transformation retail is currently going through and the shift from brick-and-mortar, to e-commerce, to omnichannel approaches.  The paper describes trends and includes data and resources that can help you understand where we are at, where we are heading, and where you can learn more.

 

 

 

Warehousing (Carlson and Larco) looks at the changing nature of distribution networks with the rise of E-Commerce and the effects this will have on the size, number and distribution of Warehouses in cities.

 

Mall Foreclosures Up 11% – Due in Part to E-Commerce

Mall foreclosures continue to rise as retailers face more and more competition from E-commerce and a large rush away from enclosed malls.  Many owners are letting their loans default instead of trying to restructure as they see no easy future in a shifting economy.

These declining/failing properties not only cause problems for tenants, but also for the surrounding properties.  “If a mall closes or goes into decline, you’re going to see declining property values in the area,” commented Arthur C. Nelson, professor of Urban Planning and Real Estate Development at the University of Arizona. “The mall is a marker.”

One of the early casualties in the shift to E-commerce.

Getting out ahead: Regulating AVs

On the heels of USDOT announcing 10 pilot designees for testing AV technology, one state is getting out ahead of AVs.  Legislation proposed in Massachusetts would ” allow self-driving cars on public roads, but impose a mileage-based tax on their use, allow some large municipalities to ban them, and require all such cars to be zero-emissions vehicles.”  (Boston Globe, January 19, 2017)  As pointed out in the article, AVs currently fall into a legal gray area in Massachusetts and many states.

APA reports that Michigan, Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Nevada, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah have statutes regulating AVs. (“Michigan joins small number of states with self-driving car laws.” – APA blog)

Article: “Mass law would tax autonomous vehicles by the mile,” by Dan Adams, Boston Globe, January 19,2017.

 

 

Envisioning Future Cities with Automated Vehicles Webinar

 

Mark your calendars for OAPA’s (Oregon American Planning Association) webinar on Automated Vehicles on Tuesday January 24th at 12-1 pm PST

Click here to register

More info on the webinar:

“Automated Vehicle (AV) technology promises to reshape the transportation system and the built environment in ways not seen since the introduction of the automobile over a century ago. By revolutionizing the nature of personal mobility and removing the need for passengers to be in the car at all times, AVs have the potential to dramatically impact roadway design and the built environment to yield urban spaces that are safer, more efficient, and attractive. However, unlike America’s first experience with the automobile, it is hoped that policy makers will recognize and take advantage of this opportunity to reshape our urban areas in ways that promote safe, sustainable, and people-centered environments. AV technology offers an opportunity to balance what have long been seen as conflicting goals of safer and more efficient transportation systems and urban environments founded upon the principles of sustainability and human-centered design. But the twin goals of efficiency and urbanity can be achieved only through proactive planning and investment by federal, state, regional and local transportation agencies.

This webinar will review the innovative work Florida Department of Transportation and Florida State University are doing to take the first steps toward envisioning the future in an AV world, a future that can yield attractive, people-friendly, efficient and safe urban environments. In addition, this webinar will identify near and medium-term infrastructure investments and policy decisions that could enable a smooth transition to a transportation system dominated by AVs. Few understood and foresaw the massive impact the automobile would have upon travel behaviors, transportation systems, and the built environment over a century ago. This session hopes to prepare and equip local governments with the tools necessary to take advantage of this remarkable opportunity to reshape the built environment into more livable communities.”

 

Warehouses Will Be Everywhere

As we continue to trend towards e-commerce and a range of delivery methods for products, warehouses – one of the key infrastructure elements of delivery – are going to both shift and proliferate.  A report from Colliers looks at these shifts broadly, but pertinent to this blog, there are sections on First Mile and Last Mile of delivery that outline the changes we will be seeing in the built environment.  Some takeaways:

  • Large consolidation of distribution facilities is happening as this facilitates logistics and the implementation of automation
  • Due to this consolidation, the size of facilities is greatly increasing – ‘First Mile’ facilities (these are distributions centers that are first accepting parcels from suppliers)  greater than 1 million square feet are becoming more commonplace. — Picture a single facility as large as 4-5 New York City blocks or 16-20 Portland blocks.
  • ‘Last Mile’ facilities (distribution centers that ship directly to customers) – on the other hand are locating in order to shorten and speed up final deliveries.  This is leading to smaller distribution centers (50-75,000 square feet) scattered around urban areas.

A great graphic that shows the complexity of new shopping and delivery methods is below.  Many forms of delivery and each has its own land use and transportation implications.

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First Driverless Transit Shuttle in U.S. is Up and Running

And the milestones keep coming.  Las Vegas just made active the country’s first AV public transit shuttle.  These type of fixed lines routes (transit lines) are obvious choices as early adopters as the environmental variables are limited.  The bus is small – 12 passenger – and the route is short but it is yet another step towards full automation of the transit system.

This type of vehicle is potentially going to be doing the heavy lifting for paratransit and shared trips in the near future.  Picture something like this coming to pick you up next time you use uberPOOL or Lyft Line.

It’s all about the space, about the space

When it comes down to it, transportation is all about the space.  Want to maximize fast movement of vehicles unimpeded?  Allocate plenty of space for cars and limit distractions like other modes or intersections or driveways.  Want to keep driving easy and convenient?  Allocate (actually, legislate) the provision of parking at home, at work, at shopping, and at play.  Want to create protected bikeways that actually feel comfortable for people to use?  Re-allocate street space for that purpose.  Etc.  Even for autonomous and connected vehicles, one of the arguments in their favor is their space saving qualities, from right-sizing the vehicles to the trip at hand to being able to reduce the space in between moving vehicles on the road.

Cities exist as a place where multiple activities come together in a relatively confined area. And space is a finite resource in cities; how that space is allocate will directly dictate what modes of transport are the most efficient, most convenient, most comfortable, and create the most enjoyable, livable environment in which to be a human being.  This mapping project of the “Distribution of Public Space at Urban Intersections” nicely illustrates how urban transportation space tends to get distributed now.  And the space-saving nature of bicycle transportation is an explicit guiding factor, in addition to environmental or health factors, for transportation planning in Copenhagen according to a recent municipal performance report.

How cities decide to right-size urban public space as more options for right-sizing transportation modes is perhaps the key question of the next decade.

The Amazon impact – more delivery trips and person-less stores

As online shopping continues to become commonplace, so do the number of delivery trucks delivering those goods directly to consumers, rather than centralized stores.  While there clearly is convenience in this approach, the increase in delivery vehicles on our streets is significant as 10-30% of the time the same package must be delivered more than once because no one is home and many goods are also returned this same way.  The space of our streets is limited – can space-efficient forms of transportation such as bicycles be designed into the center of urban delivery systems?

And at the other end of the spectrum, Amazon is experimenting with personnel-free shopping in urban areas where goods can be purchased without the help of a cashier at all – whether human or self-service machine.  This type of technology may have dual effects on the future of cities – there may be lower need for space for employee parking  (there are none), but what might it mean for cities to lose part of its entry-level workforce option?

Bikeshare as First/Last Mile — Even in Burbs

An analysis of DC Metro area bikeshare shows that a significantly larger share of trips start or end at stops within a quarter mile of the transit stations (compared to other stations in the system).  The analysis postulates that this is due to a combination of typical local use AND trips to or from the nearby transit stop to these stations.  First and last mile travel using bikeshare – and in the burbs no less.

AV’s and Residential Preferences (the city will expand…)

While there has been a good amount of speculation about how Shared AV’s (SAV) will push or hinder sprawl, little of it is based on research.  This new study (presentation linked) by Wenwen Zhang and Dr. Subhrajit Guhathakurta from Georgia Tech uses a sophisticated analysis of travel datasets from Atlanta coupled with home purchase information from Zillow to predict how fleets of SAV’s might shift where people will choose to live. While the study has some aspects to work out (value of travel time, pricing effects of new mobility on housing), the takeaway is a substantial shift in residential preference.

Author Zhang states that “The transportation system we investigated is Shared Autonomous Vehicle (SAVs) which is a ubiquitous transit system. Our results show that younger households (<40 years old) will move further away from downtown for cheaper housing units and better education resources. Meanwhile, elder households (>40 years old) will move towards the downtown area to avoid long average waiting time.  However, all workers will move further away from their working places. The best interpretation of our model results would be workers will have more freedom in terms of residential location choices, i.e. they can live closer to other education facilities and infrastructures that they need to consume, rather than being constrained by the location of their offices.”

The image below – from the study – sums up how a post AV/ridesource world will have more people choosing to both live and work farther from city centers.  (blue is current household distance from CBD or work, green is AV future distance from CBD or work).  The charts shown are for people under 40 with kids.

It should be noted that this study focuses on SAV’s where wait times are the key factor pushing some people to live closer in and within higher densities (to avoid wait times).  We might rightly assume that privately owned AVs (that eliminate wait times) could push people further out.

This should be a wake-up call to anyone worried about sprawl.

 

Distance of Household to CBD:
(Avg Current = 20.70 miles, Avg w/ SAV Fleets = 22.31 miles)

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Distance of Household to Work:
(Avg Current = 29.48 miles, Avg w/ SAV Fleets = 36.03 miles) zhang-hh

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Uber and Transit

In yet another example of ridesourcing and transit joining forces, New Orleans is looking at using Uber as part of a broader transit strategy.   As we have described before, this seems to be a definite movement with a range of examples of how it is being done.  The article describes how “Atlanta integrates an Uber pickup option in the city’s public transportation MARTA app, while Portland, Oregon includes Lyft pricing on its public-transit app. Around Tampa, riders pay a $3 flat fee for an Uber ride to transit stations, with the agency picking up the rest. Denver is collaborating with Lyft on free rides from its light-rail stations.”

Challenges for Transit

A new report coming out of TIRF from Canada says that “one-third of drivers who used public transportation and 15% of persons who cycled or walked reported they would switch to SDVs (Self-Driving  Vehicles) to commute.”  This would create havoc for transit as that degree of lost ridership would severely cut into the feasibility of transit.

 

 

 

First/Last Mile with Uber

Another article here on Amtrak and local transit in North Carolina coordinating with Uber to help riders overcome first/last mile issues.  An app will show how combinations of rail, bus, and ridesourceing can get people where they need to go. There has been a trend nationally for this kind of collaboration.

Of interest will be transit organizations’ ability to gather data on these trips to see if Uber trips end up replacing transit or if they are really extending the accessibility of transit itself

America 2021: The future is driverless?

In an interview in the Verge, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx envisions a future of cities with AVs, discussing the implications for regulations and safety.  How will shifts in transportation affect  the rest of society?  How can AVs enhance communities and improve access in underserved communities? Are we prepared for AVs?

 

Slower Cars in Cities? AV’s and games of ‘Chicken’

This article looks at the very real possibility that AVs will actually move slower in central cities than cars do today.  This is based on two notions – first, the idea that AV’s risk averse algorithms will understandably slow them down or stop them whenever a pedestrian or cyclist crosses the street.  Second, the idea that pedestrians and cyclists – now sure that  cars will be stopping – will step off the curb or into traffic whenever they please, creating havoc for the efficiency of automobiles.  Author Adam Millard-Ball asks us to imagine AVs trying to get through Manhattan while obeying all traffic rules and stopping with every pedestrians crossing at will.

The article points to a key issue regarding AVs in dense environments and how the interaction with other modes will severely hamper some of the largely claimed increases in speed.  It would seem that these increases will most probably exist in suburban and exurban areas, but not as much in central cores.  How does the speedy highway leading into the city deal with the congestion glut as cars enter slower networks downtown?

The Future of Transit (is looking brighter)

A few positive developments for the future of transit today!  As we have discussed before – the question of transit + ridesourcing (Uber/Lyft) as opposed to transit vs. ridesourcing will be one of the most fundamental questions to how cities develop in an AV future.  If there is collaboration, accessibility can increase tremendously without (as much) increase in congestion or a push towards sprawl.  If they are in competition – and ridesourcing triumphs in a way that makes transit unfeasible – we are in for the darkest of futures (see previous posts for more on this).  So now – onto the news:

In Seattle, Uber is endorsing the cities $54 Billion (with a ‘B’) transit ballot initiative.  Uber has not traditionally endorse ballot initiatives one way or another, but the fact they are supporting transit, coupled with the partnerships they are developing with cities to work cooperatively in the mobility world points to a promising future.  Of interest in the article is also Uber’s Seattle General Manager’s quote that Uber’s mission is to “reduce congestion and pollution by moving more people with fewer cars, and provide better mobility options for all people living in the region.”  Uber and transit combining to be mobility/accessibility companies, and not ridesource and transit individually, is a large step in the right direction.

In that same vein, this article talks about AV paratransit being developed in Hillsborough, Florida – launch expected in 2017.  Could be a great option for hardest to serve and for first/last mile access to transit.

 

 

Love Affair (with the car) Over?

This article looks at what cars mean to us culturally and how that would change with AV’s.  It reads as a bit of a swansong – a distant echo of people lamenting their relationship to their horses was about to change as cars first took over cities.

As strange as it may seem to those of us who came of age pre-2010 – and it remains to be seen – but it is hard to imagine the eight year old of today growing up to a moment in their early twenties when dumping thousands of dollars into a car seems like a good idea – not with uber, lyft, car2go, car share, bike share, etc etc out there.

Transit + Rideshare II — Shared Mobility and the Transformation of Public Transit

Related to the previous post, here is another positive push for transit and shared mobility working together and not in competition.  This report put out by TCRP talks about how transit agencies can re-imagine themselves as mobility agencies that use a wide range of mobility options (typical transit, paratransit, rideshare, ridesourcing, carshare, bikeshare, etc).  Excellent thinking and research in there.

There is also an accompanying webinar recording here that summarizes the report.  This webinar talks about all of the possible, progressive futures, but also warns how detrimental a future with only AV cars (and no transit/paratransit) would be.

Transit + Rideshare (not Transit vs. Rideshare)

In another hopeful move that transit and ridesourcing services like Uber and Lyft will be combining efforts to better provide accessibility and mobility for all, FTA this week announced nearly $8 million in grants – mostly to transit agencies – to incorporate mobility-on-demand into their agencies.  Take a look at the funded projects here.

What the transition to AV’s will look like…

Zack Kanter’s post on AV’s is a well researched take on what the rollout of AV’s will look like.  He describes the steps we will move through and some of the immediate fallout of these steps.  Good series of citations (for those looking for more than opinions about these things).

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Cost of Autonomous Vehicles – Cortright

This is a two part series from City Observatory that talks about the projected cost of autonomous vehicles and the effects this will have on their adoption (and their marketshare).  The first article cityobservatory.org/how-much-will-autonomous-vehicles-cost/ has a collection of cost estimates from various sources.  The second article http://cityobservatory.org/price-of-autonomous-cars/ looks at the effects of pricing on everything from AV’s effect on transit to the behavioral effects of our being more aware of the cost of trips (as we may no longer have that sunk cost of the automobile).

Welcome to Urbanism Next.

The Urbanism Next Blog is focused on how changes in technology are reshaping the ways we live, move, and spend our time in cities.  We are interested in emerging technologies such as autonomous vehicles (AV’s), the rise of E-Commerce, and the proliferation of the sharing economy.  While other parts of the blogosphere are looking at the technological aspects of these advances, we are interested in the effects the they will have on cities and city design.

Urbanism Next is meant to be a source for those interested in technology and the built environment and is particularly targeted towards urban designers, architects, planners, landscape architects, and developers.  Visit the blog for links to relevant articles, commentaries on emerging trends, and critical thinking around the future of our cities.

The Urbanism Next Blog is part of the Sustainable Cities Initiative’s (SCI) Urbanism Next Research Initiative at the University of Oregon.

About

Advances in technology such as the advent of autonomous vehicles (AVs), the rise of E-commerce, and the proliferation of the sharing economy are having profound effects not only on how we live, move, and spend our time in cities, but also increasingly on urban form and development itself. The University of Oregon’s Urbanism Next Center focuses on the ramifications of these changes. Researchers are working with leaders from the public, private, and academic sectors across North America and Europe to better understand the secondary impacts of emerging technologies on cities and ensure that governments from the local to federal level have the information they need to make informed decisions that improve equity and health outcomes, as well as help achieve community goals related to the economy and the environment.

Urbanism Next is meant to be a source for those interested in technology and the built environment and is particularly targeted towards urban designers, architects, planners, landscape architects, and developers. The Urbanism Next Blog is part of the Sustainable Cities Initiative’s (SCI) Urbanism Next Research Center at the University of Oregon. Visit the blog for links to relevant articles, commentaries on emerging trends, and critical thinking around the future of our cities.

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