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SharedStreets is a new data platform designed to make it easier for the private sector to work with cities around the world and leverage data to improve urban mobility. Photo: Ford Motor Company


Connected and autonomous vehicles and shared streets can help meet cities’ transportation goals.

The future with driverless cars is fast approaching, and how cities around the world respond depends greatly on a variety of factors such as their unique cultural heritage and types of infrastructure. According to Arcadis, a global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets, a “one size fits all” approach is to be avoided because it would not deliver the full extent of the opportunities available and may not ensure that the special character of a city is protected.

Arcadis released a report — Citizens in Motion (www.arcadis.com/en/global/our-perspectives/connected-and-autonomous-vehicles/citizens-in-motion) — that looks at the mobility needs in 14 global cities and to what extent connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) can be leveraged to meet transportation goals. According to Arcadis, while CAVs have the potential to vastly improve urban mobility, they can also possibly make congestion worse, or threaten the viability of vital public transport services, thus affecting citizens’ ability to travel.

When cities design solutions that leverage new technology in transportation, inclusivity and accessibility for all citizens is paramount to avoid creating a two-tier public transport society, Arcadis said. The established mobility blend in any city represents huge investment from the private or public sector, but a disruption like CAVs could threaten to deprive existing providers, like taxi or bus companies, of income. City governments must engage with the private sector to find a solution that strengthens, not weakens, the whole network,.

The Citizens in Motion report refers to levels 4 and 5 of autonomy in electric vehicles (EV), where vehicles communicate with each other as well as with the environment around them without the need for a human driver to intervene. It provides an individual profile of 14 global cities and analyses each city’s urban mobility objectives, infrastructure readiness, CAV initiatives in place, and citizens’ openness to their adoption.

Specifically, the three areas examined in each city were citizen connection, governance platforms, and enabling infrastructure. Key points were identified as elements that may or may not support the development of CAV-based solutions as a means of achieving a city’s mobility objectives. Progress toward a fully operational CAV environment is currently at different levels of maturity across the globe.

The fundamental commonality among the 14 cities evaluated in the report is an aim to have urban mobility functions that are healthy and safe, citizen-centric, green and sustainable, accessible, investible, and smart. The degree to which CAVs can help solve mobility challenges varies per city, and Citizens in Motion outlines recommendations for each to progress toward this.

“Cities across the world are grappling with congestion, overcrowded transport, poor air quality, and the need to drive greater prosperity, competitiveness, and improve the citizen-experience,” said John Batten, Global Cities director at Arcadis. “The emerging CAV revolution opens a new frontier of disruption in transportation and urban living, beyond existing examples such as Uber. For our cities, exclusively electric connected and autonomous vehicles will present a huge opportunity to radically transform urban mobility.”

Shared streets

In late September, Ford Motor Company, Uber, and Lyft announced a commitment to SharedStreets (https://sharedstreets.io), a new data platform designed to make it easier for the private sector to work with cities around the world and leverage data to improve urban mobility. The data sets pledged by the companies will provide the public and private sectors with new tools to manage curb space in order to reduce congestion and emissions, improve the efficiency of city streets by making it easier for everyone to get around, and save lives by preventing traffic crashes, the companies said.

The public-private partnership is the result of a collaboration with the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), the Open Transport Partnership, and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the consortium behind the SharedStreets data platform. Launched earlier this year with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, SharedStreets is a universal data language for sharing information about city streets and a launching pad for public-private collaboration to manage streets, reduce traffic deaths, and prepare cities for emerging technological advancements. Already operating in more than 30 cities around the world, the SharedStreets platform and this new partnership will provide city leaders with new instruments for managing transportation networks.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for business and government to work together to rethink transportation,” said Jim Hackett, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “Collaborating through initiatives such as SharedStreets will enable us to use vehicles, road systems, and data together to create a new roadmap for mobility. We are working toward a future where all cities are smart and curb space is actively managed, increasing efficiency and safety, while reducing driver stress and pollution.”


Information provided by Arcadis (www.arcadis.com) and the National Association of City Transportation Officials (www.nacto.org).   

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