- Published: 31 March 2023
A mode shift toward more sustainable transportation like micromobility and transit will take more than an app. It will require a reimagining of cities and how transportation infrastructure is prioritized.
For all of the advancements around technology and the deployment of a range of mobility options across cities, U.S. travelers still generally stick to one travel mode; and it’s usually a car.
“For the most part people are not sort of multimodal travelers, inherently. They sort of pick a mode, and they sort of stick to it,” said Ben Schrom, director of product management at Lyft, speaking on a panel at the annual Curbivore conference in Los Angeles earlier this month.
Though Schrom added there are “pockets” where this is not the case — New York City was mentioned — in too many places and across too many metro regions, the infrastructure needed to support alternatives to driving, as well as other policies and infrastructure that make parking cheap and highways wide, have led to a de facto subsidized car culture.
“I think there is a fair amount of work that we need to do, sort of collectively, to get people to start to think about transit in a multimodal way and to stitch these options together,” said Schrom.
“I think part of Lyft’s challenge is to make that clear to the user,” he added.
What is needed, according to Prescott Watson, a partner at mobility-focused venture capital firm RedBlue Capital, is a reimagining of cities by visionary leaders who are poised to enact bold ideas when it comes to how cities are designed and infrastructure is prioritized.
“We have to really reconsider how we’re going to generate density, change zoning laws, and get transit refunded,” said Watson, during a panel titled, “Building for the Future: Creating Better Cities, Streets and Businesses.”
“Why don’t people walk? Because we live in a city — especially Los Angeles — where it’s particularly hard to walk and bike in,” he added.
Watson and others pointed to the nearly overnight re-ordering of city streets during the COVID-19 pandemic when streets became walkable and parking spaces were converted to outdoor dining nooks, and all largely embraced by the public.
“COVID gave us the political cover to make changes that require behavioral changes that nobody wants to make … and then we look at what happened, and we’re like, ‘oh my gosh, this is so much better,’” said Watson. “But you can’t have that happen until you have political leadership that can paint a vision that’s attractive to people.”
It was an abrupt shift from decades of city planning that has generally served the automobile. And today, as city curbs are crowded with deliveries, pedestrians, scooters and more, this thinking is placed increasingly under a critical microscope.
“When all the scooter companies are at war over the sidewalk, and cities are canceling them, and they’re pushing back, you have to realize they’re fighting over a tiny segment of space because cars have taken everything else,” said Watson.
“You need someone at the top that’s pushing a unified vision that citizens can get excited about,” he added.
Hilary Norton, chairwoman emeritus and commissioner for the California Transportation Commission and the executive director of FASTLinkDTLA, pointed out California has allocated $1 billion for active transportation, in the form of walking and biking.
“The money is there. The demand is there. We really can design new streets, and then apply for money to do just that,” said Norton.
“We have 50 million tourists that want to come downtown, that want to come to this city every year, but it’s got to make sense,” she added. “And the more we welcome them and make it easy, and make it possible, and make it make sense, the more they’re going to tell their friends, and more people will come, and we’ll have additional money to build the other parts of the ecosystem so people don’t have to have their car at all.”
Autor(en)/Author(s): Skip Descant
Quelle/Source: Government Technology - Future Structure, 21.03.2023