On offer at this year’s MOBILIZE summit were several tools, resources, and case studies of projects whose leaders aim to re-humanize public roadways and disrupt the automobile-centric culture that dominates them in many places. What follows are a few key highlights focused on advancing universally accessible improvements to the built environment.
TDM, when employed, works. TDM agencies around the country use a treasure’s trove of strategies to get people out of cars and onto trains, buses, and bikes, which is something that has to happen if we don’t want our roads to become unusable due to traffic and environmental congestion.
But one major problem with the practice of TDM is that it has had a hard time making the case that it is a cost-effective alternative or at least add-on to big infrastructure projects. It seems pretty obvious that teaching people, educating them, about how to use our systems will make those systems run more smoothly. But there has never been a great way to back up that assumption with hard numbers.
Public meeting-driven community engagement doesn’t produce equitable outcomes for communities. To get to an inclusive, fair outcome, the development & planning communities need to get more representative feedback from community members.
By addressing a variety of factors that add to pollution, cities can take a more comprehensive approach to mitigating the effects of climate change. For example, Earthjustice worked with the Los Angeles Electric Truck and Bus Coalition to convince Mayor Garcetti and the regional transit authority to commit to 100% zero-emission buses by 2030. The campaign brought together environmentalists, bus riders, and good job advocates who see the potential of an electrified future to clean the air, create high-quality jobs, and combat the threat of climate change.
The two most important points of the 2018 SAFE Vehicles Rule proposed (or preferred) alternative include: a cap on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and fuel economy requirements for passenger vehicles at 2020 standard (35.5 mpg) through MY 2026, and; a revocation of the California waiver to the 1975 Clean Air Act. Recently, EPA indicated they are considering “tweaking” the preferred GHG proposal, but appear to be committed to the revocation of the waiver for California—an action that will likely lead to a drawn-out legal battle between the administration and California.
Once LADWP acknowledged the skewed trends in solar participation, the utility began promoting its programs in lower-income communities and communities of color. These areas, which the State of California had designated as ‘disadvantaged’, were the same ones where LADWP’s data had shown little to no solar penetration. “LADWP prioritized solar infrastructure installations atop homes in those neighborhoods, enabling households to host solar power generation and earn money by selling excess electricity back to the grid.” But, even after focusing its efforts in underrepresented areas, LADWP staff saw that participation still trended toward homeowners who were, on the whole, wealthier and whiter.
Upstream intervention, a widely known public health concept, is the idea of taking preventive actions that would steer away from potential detrimental health effects such as chronic diseases, injuries, and premature death. To put it in simple terms, all things being equal, staying physically active, eating healthy foods, drinking clean water and breathing clean air, can prevent a whole host of chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, heart and lung diseases and cancer. Upstream intervention can be expressed as enacting policies to ensure access to a clean and complete environment of health.
Emerging technologies provide cities with a unique opportunity to both improve efficiency and better meet citizen and resident expectations. Managing competing demands for resources requires an understanding of the affected stakeholders and the relative economic and social impacts.
We are on the path to obtain all of California’s electricity from carbon-free resources by 2045. This transition makes it possible for the built environment to achieve carbon neutrality by converting systems that are currently powered by fossil fuels to already available technologies powered by electricity.Decarbonizing other fuel sources is much more complicated and costly. There is a concerted effort to replace natural gas with renewable biogas and captured methane from landfills, wastewater treatment facilities, and dairies, but these sources cannot fully serve our current and future needs. As a result, we must pursue all-electric buildings to achieve meaningful decarbonization of the built environment.
When most municipal employees joined the workforce, Microsoft Windows 3 was state of the art; the early 1990s. Fast forward to approaching 2020s, and half the public sector will be retiring. City governments will struggle to respond to this “silver tsunami” and not just because of the sheer size of the brain drain. Government struggles to hire and retain younger workers. Why is that? Read on to find out how partnerships can close the culture gap.
Much can be learned about promoting individual and population-scale behavior change from SMUD’s efforts to drive electrification across its residential and business customer base. Arlen stated that his team’s work was informed directly by the MINDSPACE and EAST frameworks. Specifically, by building an engagement strategy informed by human behavior and known cognitive biases in the human brain, along with nuanced data and trends about their customers, SMUD was able to directly engage with their customers in ways that were meaningful to them and responsive to their particular tendencies.
Implementing off hours delivery (OHD) across a region can be particularly advantageous. In São Paulo, shifting inner urban core deliveries to off-hours means carriers can use their trucks by day to do suburban or rural deliveries, and by night to complete inner city deliveries. This complementary pattern means carriers’ assets are in productive use around the clock, thereby lowering their costs overall. In fact, a major driver of this policy shift has been the carrier companies’ syndicate. They have been pressuring government and receivers to use OHD because it’s in their financial best interest, as our pilot has confirmed.
Understanding the share of middle-class households in a city is the first step to evaluating the economic opportunity in that city. Middle-class households can determine tax base, education-spending, and the stability of its neighborhoods. Unfortunately, Detroit has the lowest share of middle-class households of the 50 largest cities in the country. More importantly, Detroit’s 25 percent middle-class share compares with the region’s share of 38 percent. It would require 33,800 new middle-class households to create parity with the region, and 27,700 of those households would need to African American for Detroit to grow equitably.
Strengthening regional economies means growing new industries, supporting local business, improving access to family-wage jobs, and building opportunity for all. However, land use and transportation policy and investment decisions are largely isolated from the aspirations of businesses and their workers. A better approach is needed.