Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blog Entry


"because cities that work for bicyclists are more vital, prosperous, convenient and attractive places to live and work. "  

This article is extremely motivating in my opinion; as student interested in transportation planning, finding a way to make communities more vital, prosperous, convenient, and attractive are our main goals and this article was fueled by that same desire. 

In cities such as the Netherlands and Copenhagen, biking accounts for 35% of the way people choose to travel.  Because of this statistic, American organizations - such as Colorado-based non-profit PeopleForBikes - that are interested in incorporating these travel behaviors into domestic cities have begun to organize visits to Copenhagen and Denmark to inspire the development of future, more efficient, community-based transportation programs.  

Cities around the nation are being asked to participate with PeopleForBikes and their mission to cultivate social, economic, and cultural wealth through the implementation of strong bicycling systems that compliment the cities specific needs. Visits to the Netherlands and Copenhagen have taken place - with more planned for the future - and the inspiration that planners leave with has changed the level of mobility and accessibility in their cities, for the better.  

Cities such as Chicago, Denver, Madison, and Indianapolis are amongst many American cities that have participated in PeopleForBikes' global transportation tour.  Indianapolis, for example, has since become one of the nations leaders in protected bike lanes following Brian Payne's - the President of the Central Indiana Community Foundation's - study tour visit of Denmark and Sweden.  Following Brian Payne's visit, his foundation launched a campaign that is projected to add $863 million dollars and 11,000 jobs to the Indianapolis local economy by developing an eight mile bike and pedestrian route - that is separated from traffic - through the center of the city.  Not only does this provide an economic benefit for the city by stimulating job growth, but the level of accessibility and mobility will increase tremendously for the frequent commuters - mainly workers and residents - of Indianapolis.  

The level of social, economic and cultural impact that the PeopleForBikes global initiative has created is not only long-lasting, but a viable way to encourage future global collaboration amongst the diverse array of planning, health, and governmental organizations.  This notion of study tours has already begun to cultivate relationships among cross-state planners, health officials, engineers, council members, and neighborhood leaders - further encouraging a national movement to increase mobility and efficiency within American cities.  

Mimi Hefner
USC Sol Price School of Public Policy

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Autonomous Vehicles: The Future of Urban Transportation

Autonomous Vehicles: The Future of Urban Transportation
by Jeremy Smith 

After a class discussion with Robert Huddy back in October, I have been thinking a lot about driverless vehicles. We have all heard about Google's progress with its autonomous vehicles; experts are saying they will hit the streets before 2020! What will this mean for the future of urban structures? I think it's main impacts will happen in the physical structure of cities, social dynamics, and the "driver" industry. 
Automated vehicles are expected to eliminate the human error of driving, reducing traffic caused by accidents as well as being able to be integrated into an ITS, maximizing the efficiency of our automobile infrastructure. Autonomous vehicles will also greatly reduce the need for parking, as users will either be able to order vehicles from their phone, or have their vehicle drive back to their home after dropping them off. By increasing the efficiency and mobility of urban areas, cities will be able to allow for high densities of land uses, which would normally be limited by traffic. I also argue that automated vehicles will extend the 1st and last mile of existing transit, and will help expand the reach of urban transit systems. 
In terms of Social impacts, I see two main groups that could be affected: the elderly and the youth. Aging Baby Boomers will be able to stay in their homes longer by providing more mobility for those unable to drive. I also see driverless cars changing family dynamics, where parents can have their cars drop off and pick up their kids from school, increasing mobility for education and taking a burden off of parents allowing for varied work schedules and changing family dynamics. 
Lastly, the taxi and limo industry is worth $11 billion and the freight transportation industry, worth over $210 billion in the US. With the automation of these vehicles and services, what will happen to the millions of well-paid drivers who often have low levels of education and barriers of entry to other industries. How will the employment of robotics affect the US economy who, in many ways, relies on these jobs due to low levels of education? All of this while the cost of learning to be a robotics engineer is increasing (in terms of tuition) every year. 

Jeremy Smith
USC Sol Price School of Public Policy '17