Meeting of the Minds took a few moments to talk with Herrie Schalekamp about new working relationships between researchers and paratransit operators in South Africa and beyond. Herrie is the ACET Research Officer at the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Transport Studies. In addition to his research, teaching and consulting in the fields of paratransit and public transport reform he is involved in specialised educational programmes for paratransit operators and government officials. Herrie’s activities form part of a broader endeavour to investigate and contribute to improved public transport operations and regulation in Sub-Saharan African cities under ACET – the African Centre of Excellence for Studies in Public and Non-motorised Transport.
Car Sharing to Save Money and the Environment Just Got Easier with SFMTA’s Convenient On-Street Car Share Pilot.
Car sharing is a simple idea that’s already helping San Francisco achieve environmental and transportation system goals as it provides residents and businesses a way to reduce their parking headaches and transportation expenses while maintaining access to “just enough car” for errands and other trips. Research has repeatedly shown that every shared vehicle available to users results in private cars being taken off the road, with conservative estimates of from 7 to 15 vehicles taken off the streets for every shared vehicle.
Traditionally, car share vehicles have been located in parking lots, gas stations, and garages, where members can pick them up and drop them off, but that can mean a long walk to a semi-hidden location to use a car, hardly an attractive or convenient option for many people. And many of these parking lots and gas stations are being redeveloped into other uses, meaning that car share organizations (CSOs) are literally losing ground on providing access to shared vehicles across the city, even as the need for car sharing grows.
Committed to encouraging car sharing as a practical transportation choice, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is conducting an experiment to allow car sharing vehicles to park in spaces right on the street, right in our neighborhoods. The data-driven experiment will test the hypothesis that access to car sharing reduces the need to own a private vehicle. The on-street car share pilot will make hundreds of on-street parking spaces available across all districts of the city for use by qualified car share organizations (CSOs) over the two years of the pilot. New on-street car share pods are already appearing in SF neighborhoods, perhaps you’ve seen one (or shared one).
Permitting private businesses exclusive use of the city’s curb parking raises serious questions about equity and the public good, so data collection and evaluation is a central aspect of the pilot. Participating car share organizations (City CarShare, Zipcar, and Getaround) will pay monthly permit fees for the parking spaces, and they’ll have to collect and share data with the SFMTA about how the vehicles are being used, and who’s using them. For each car share space, the SFMTA will receive monthly statistics on unique users, trips made, vehicle miles travelled, and other utilization and performance numbers. And the SFMTA will coordinate with CSOs to survey users at the start and end of the pilot to learn whether and how travel patterns and choices changed, including car ownership plans and commitments. At the end of the pilot the SFMTA will evaluate the data and potentially recommend making on-street car sharing a permanent program, if public benefits to the program are substantiated.
Learn more about the SFMTA’s On-Street Car Share pilot:
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Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Brownfields are sites that are vacant or underutilized due to environmental contamination, real or imagined. There are brownfields of some kind in virtually every city and town in the U.S., usually related to a gas station, dry cleaner, auto repair shop, car dealership or some other ubiquitous local business that once benefited the community it now burdens with environmental hazards or old buildings.
In addressing this issue, technology has not been effectively deployed to promote redevelopment of these sites and catalyze community revitalization. We find that the question around the use of technology and data in advancing the redevelopment of brownfields is twofold:
How can current and future technology advancements be applied to upgrade existing brownfield modeling tools? And then, how can those modeling tools be used to accelerate transformative, sustainable, and smart redevelopment and community revitalization?
Across the country, urban parks are enjoying a renaissance. Dozens of new parks are being built or restored and cities are being creative about how and where they are located. Space under highways, on old rail infrastructure, reclaimed industrial waterfronts or even landfills are all in play as development pressure on urban land grows along with outdoor recreation needs.
These innovative parks are helping cities face common challenges, from demographic shifts, to global competitiveness to changing climate conditions. Mayors and other city officials are taking a fresh look at parks to improve overall community health and sense of place, strengthen local economies by attracting new investments and creating jobs, help manage storm water run-off, improve air quality, and much more. When we think of city parks holistically, accounting for their full role in communities, they become some of the smartest investments we can make.