Tagged: urban

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.

 

Urbanism Next Research Papers Series – Re-Imagining Retail

While we have been compiling research and articles on this blog for the last few months, we have also been working on our own research.  Today marks the start of our publishing a series of brief 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.

The first paper is co-written by Galen Carlson and Nico Larco and is focused on Re-Imagining Retail.  Building 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.

Look for additional papers on residential preferences, warehousing, and the effects of urbanism next issues on municipal budgets – coming in the coming weeks.

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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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.

Will the sharing economy improve or exacerbate urban problems?

CityMetric takes a look at whether the sharing economy can help address environmental and social challenges.  Specifically, how can collaborative economy platforms be used to to tackle the needs of people, families, communities and local governments.  How can we get information back to policy-makers and regulators?

 

AVs: Fleets or Private Ownership

This is probably one of the fundamental questions to how the future of AVs will roll out.  This article from Slate looks at three basic scenarios of AV ownership and use: Private ownership (what we have now), fleet ownership for private rides (think Uber/Lyft), and fleet ownership for shared rides (think Uber Pool).

While the article lays out convincing parameters for these scenarios, it doesn’t address the potential for differentiated models based on density.  Cities may lean towards fleet ownership and/or shared rides, but as we move further and further out into the suburbs, fleet management will be more difficult to do efficiently and profitably.  This seems like it would push towards more private ownership in these locations. If so, some of the parking related benefits of AVs – to name only one of many issues – may be uneven across urban areas.

 

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?

Transit in Boston Using Paratransit Ridesourcing

In another positive story about transit and ridesourcing working together instead of in competition, Boston’s MBTA is using Bridj on-demand shuttle service for late-night trips.  This is a strategy to compensate for recently limited late-night service.  Not only will this fill a need, but also lets the agency gather data on use that can lead to more efficient future service.

ride share bridj for commuters boston
Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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.

 

 

AV’s, E-Commerce and Retail

This article talks about how the combination of AV’s and E-Commerce will create havoc for the retail industry.  More of our shopping will go online while bricks and mortar stores will start to act more like distribution warehouses as AV’s are sent to run errands and pick up things we need.  This will have large implications for how retail works in urban areas – where it is located, how much of it we need built, and a shift (already occurring) from retail being based on a need to retail being proposed as an experience.

Large implications for activity centers throughout urbanized areas as many of them have retail as a core vitality generator.

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.

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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