Clean Transport

Published on February 8th, 2016 | by Guest Contributor


Transportation Planning Needed For Building Cities Of The Future

February 8th, 2016 by  

Originally published on ExpertSure.
By Paul Mackie and Howard Jennings

What does transportation in the U.S. city of the future look like?

C0B18CA4-BAC8-4A0D-8C8B-1C99E1DE92CAMobility Lab gets asked this a lot because it’s clear that people have had it with the crushing traffic that dominates most of our cities, and 3 out of 4 people are frustrated by their lack of transportation options.

As Forbes recently pointed out, the average traffic delay – time spent in stop-and-go traffic – per commuter is 42 hours each year, up from 18 hours annually in 1982. We’re losing patience, getting less healthy, being unproductive, wasting money, and polluting the air. And from the flip-side perspective, a new report has found that reducing the time employees spend in cars is one of best things a business can do for itself, for a whole host of reasons.

So people and businesses are slowly getting around to realizing they need to change their transportation habits, and this mindset is starting to have a huge impact on the way people everywhere – but especially in dense cities – take their daily trips.


It’s safe to say technology has been the top enabler of this trend. And all the talk about the on-demand economy and electric and autonomous vehicles is actually a lot more interesting and sophisticated (and realistic) than the many years we all spent infatuated with flying Jetsons cars as our vision of a transportation future.

Traffic smartphone apps such as Waze suggest the most efficient route from point A to point B, adjusting along the way based on real-time speed and traffic information from other “crowdsourcing” users.

Dozens of transit agencies have apps that offer real-time travel information. And after a media investigation discovered that nearly 10 percent of buses are late to Boston’s public schools, a new app called Where’s My School Bus? was designed so parents could know if their kids were missing class.

And when package-delivery drones like those proposed by Amazon get off the ground, they hold the potential to decrease the number of truck trips on city and suburban streets.

Austin is creating an app that connects cyclists to traffic signals, which the Texas city hopes will encourage more bicycling by making lights turn green faster as bicycles approach them.

Zurich, Switzerland has long had success alleviating traffic in this realm. If too many cars are coming into the city, sophisticated traffic signals are timed to vastly discourage people from driving in. With commuter rail strategically running alongside these roads, people can bail out of their cars and jump onto transit. It’s highly rational, it works, and the city is a way more enjoyable because of it. More and more places – like New York, London, Paris, Copenhagen, and Buenos Aires – are utilizing car-free zones.

uberPool and Lyft Line have a huge opportunity to play a role in reducing the total number of miles driven on U.S. roads. While these new offerings are similar to traditional carpooling, which has been around since the need to ration rubber in World War II, the ability to hail a ride with more certainty from a smartphone is proving popular.

Public transportation really needs to catch up. Once trains, light rail, streetcars, and buses become interconnected services on our smartphones, we’ll see an uptick in ridership. One of the major drawbacks to transit is that it is perceived as unreliable. But if we can check real-time arrivals, pay, ride, and transfer to all the other transit possibilities from the comfort of our smartphones – or “smart wallets,” as San Francisco transit innovator Tim Papandreou calls it – the need to own a personal vehicle will decrease.

Singapore has an “ez-Link” card that travelers can use to pay for buses, trains and taxis, while London’s Oyster card does some of the same things.

RideScout recently announced its plan to launch something called RideTap, which will be a pilot in Portland to demonstrate on-demand rides to complement the existing transit infrastructure. In other words, TriMet users will be able to book a Bcycle or Lyft on their smartphones to connect them from the end of their train ride to their destination.


Speaking of bikeshare, that is one of the major innovations helping planners see that cities are changing before their very eyes. Since 2009, when there were virtually no bikeshare systems in North America, more than 50 cities and towns – speaking conservatively, since there are also so many systems on college campuses – have added them to their transportation networks, most recently Birmingham, Ala. Even planners in smaller jurisdictions are finding flexible bikeshare options that best work for their size and resources.

Planners regularly attend Mobility Lab’s monthly Transportation Techies events (highlighted here in this Washington Post feature) and help advocate for governments to open their transit data to make systems more usable for more people. And events like our TransportationCamp – which is now happening in various cities around the country and world – and grass-roots planning by groups like ioby and Cards Against Urbanity are opening old-school planners’ eyes to the creative thinking about what people want from their cities of the future. (Like welcoming and enjoyable bus stops, for instance.)

Mayors in cities all over the country are listening and beginning to be less afraid of saying “yes” to pilot projects that can often become bigger when constituents see success and private partners assist with funding.


Then there are driverless cars – the supposed answer to all our transportation troubles. Transportation-demand expert Todd Litman projects that these won’t fully impact traffic congestion, automobile accidents, and car ownership until 2060.

But we think that is wildly conservative. Large numbers of people will be using these vehicles over the next decade, and we hope to see good data soon thereafter on whether driverless cars are taking trips off the road and reducing vehicle miles traveled.

Equally important is that so much of the focus on automated cars has been on the tech, while not enough attention is being paid to what the impacts will be on people and our built environment. If these vehicles remove the stress of the commute, then that’s likely to induce a lot more people to ride in them, in turn taking them out of transit modes like buses, subways, and bikeshares. The trend might actually create a net increase in vehicles.

The cars will be able to cluster closer together in platoons on roadways and urban streets. The likelihood is that we will have much greater density of cars in urban environments, which could potentially diminish the quality of the environment that so many of us are striving for with transit-oriented development, complete streets, walkable activity centers, and livability and sustainability initiatives. This area needs to be studied, and good policies need to be put in place before the driverless cars hit the road en masse.

A good thing about our newfound sharing-economy mindset is that it sets the stage for fleets of autonomous vehicles to succeed, since many people are no longer automatically thinking they have to have their own driverless cars. Potentially there might actually be fewer cars on the roads.


We know these are the innovations that will shape our transportation in the city of the future. The question is how it will happen.

If the right people aren’t at the table – like idea man Gabe Klein, for example – cities could end up looking like Cairo, Egypt, where people drive bumper-to-bumper, making the streets look like seething, inhospitable rivers of metal. That’s a worse-case scenario, but if we have the ability for cars to travel two feet apart, it’s also pretty realistic.

How we plan affects how quickly we get market absorption. For the most part, we don’t have the space to build new roads and highways in cities. And as the abysmal level of federal transportation spending has gone on for many years now, and our infrastructure crumbles, we don’t have the money to build new roads.

So creative spending on relatively inexpensive throughways like bicycle infrastructure and walkable communities makes a lot of sense. And the intangible benefits of refocusing on modes other than drive-alone cars make spending in those directions even wiser.

Paul Mackie is communications director at Mobility Lab and Howard Jennings is managing director at Mobility Lab.

Photos courtesy of Warren Antiola and M.V. Jantzen.

Reprinted with permission.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.


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  • Brian

    Proterra and BYD already have electric busses, so we need to have dedicated lanes in every city to encourage ridership. Also barrier protected bike lane with Dutch style intersections will minimize fatalities, and encourage cycling by protecting riders from cars. Electric bikes make it cheaper for people to travel in cities, because they need no registration, insurance, or the need to pay a vehicle tax. We need to replace all dirty gas cars with electric, and build a network of solar charging stations, like the Fastned network in Europe, across the country. If we implement these changes, we can make cities safer, more friendly to bicyclist, passengers who ride the buses, and have cleaner air.

  • Jason hm

    I’m not sure every increasing metro densities are the future. It’s really more of a status and perceived value of downtown ultra density and not practical or efficiency concerns that keep increasing core city densities. Heavy industry left decades ago and now light industry and commercial industries are following. Out west you see tech and new money enterprises almost exclusive choosing corporate campuses rather than high rise towers prime downtown real estate. Anyways I’m bullish on cars and think electric vehicles and automated driving are going to lead to less urban density.

  • JamesWimberley

    A whole long survey post on urban mobility that does not mention congestion charging! I know this scares many city politicians, but it (a) works and (b) has proved politically sustainable in Singapore and London. I don’t of any city that has tried it and been forced to backtrack, but I may be wrong.

  • Bruno Marcoux

    I believe the answer is not just autonomous electrical cars, but autonomous electrical buses as well.

    The biggest operating cost is the driver’s wages. 3 drivers per day (day, evening and night). 2nd cost is fuel, which gets greatly reduced by using electricity. 3rd is maintenance costs which gets greatly reduced by electrical motors.

    At this point, maybe we should simply make public transit free.

    Rain and snow make biking and walking not as enjoyable as driving or using public transportation. Also, population is getting older.

    In my opinion, aiming to provide reduced cost public transportation is the solution.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I don’t ride city buses often but based on my limited experience I think we need some sort of staff onboard.

      • Freddy D

        For security and safety.

      • Jason hm

        It’s a pain in the ass I tried it for a few months and calculated that even at a minimum wage rate it was more time/cost effective to drive.It really only made sense if you didn’t own a car or had a straight no transfer and short run to work.

        All the coughing sneezing and hygienically challenged folk in tight confined spaces also freaked me out. Lets just plan on making the future one where we do not have to live like hamsters.

    • Benjamin Nead

      . . . and while we’re at it, let’s get rid of those pesky, smelly low rent human bus passengers and replace them with polite upscale and odorless robots.

      But seriously . . . make the buses electric for all the reasons you give, but keep a human on broad to drive (or assist to drive when automation goes on the blink, as it invariably will,) lower the ramp for wheelchair-bound passengers and break up fights or other nefarious activity that will certainly happen if there’s no human oversight.

      The most time I spent on a bus recently was after purchasing my used EV in Anaheim, California (the car got trucked back to southern Arizona and needed a way to get back to the airport.) Despite doing some online research before visiting there, I wasn’t able to clearly determine things like day pass rates, transfers and consistency of buses on any given route during specific times of the day. Once I got there, though, I was happy to get a clear verbal rundown of this directly from a live human bus driver, who helped me save a considerable amount of money by not having to pay for a hotel shuttle.

  • Brian

    We need more car free zones and protective bike lanes on every street to discourage the car. Also we need to lower the speed limit in cities to 30 MPH, for safety, and replace cars with solar electric velomobiles like the ELF, made by Organic Transit. We don’t need 2 ton cars or SUV’s for most trips in urban areas. The ELF requires no license, registration or insurance, and is much cheaper to operate. It recharges with a solar panel on top, and could replace cars for most city driving trips.

    • Bob_Wallace

      How about we don’t look at it as discouraging the car but look at ways to improve other forms of transportation.

      A car and bike free zone in every city? Probably a great idea. Need a way to move people rapidly from one end to the other if the overall distance is great.

      Bike “highways” where bikes are protected from vehicles and where their movement is expedited.

      Better public transportation. More convenient and more comfortable.

      Do that and car use will shrink.

      • Frank

        I think the low hanging fruit is something like google maps that tells me which way to go, and how long it’s going to take to get there, only with every mode of transportation incorporated in, and the ability to pay for it.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Good app idea.

          Punch in where you want to go. Get a list of options (bus, metro, taxi, etc.) with approximate wait/travel time and cost.

          I use a program like this for intercity and country travel.

          It gives me options, time to travel and cost range. It doesn’t give departure times but that could be worked.

          • Freddy D

            Google maps already does this, correct? It gives me options for driving, transit, uber. What am I missing?
            And yes, it’s nice to have that quick comparison. Transit then allows drill-down to times and alternatives.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ve only tried using Google maps for that outside the US. The system is far from complete in those countries.

            At this point we’re talking non-dedicated apps. I’m seeing a system where you push a “get me there” button, enter “2323 Washington Ave.” and the info appears. No need to go to other sites to look up bus/train schedule or how long it might be for a taxi to show up.

        • Ian

          I’m already using those apps. There’s one for the local transit service that tells me exactly when the next bus or metro will arrive, and another that tells me if a bike or bike parking is available at any given bikesharing station. I can’t pay my bus fare with my phone (yet) but one pass works for all buses, metro, trams, funiculars and regional trains.

          All the transit planning, car free zones and spiffy apps in the world won’t get folks out of their cars if a city is sprawling like pretty much every North American city is. Public transit and bike sharing just don’t work very well without density. I’m afraid that the arrival of self driving cars will essentially kill what little public transit still exists North America, like cell phones killed pay phones.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” I’m afraid that the arrival of self driving cars will essentially kill what little public transit still exists North America,”

            I don’t think so. Public transportation should still be less expensive and some types of public transportation avoid the stop and go speeds of crowded roads.

            The poster child cities built around cars, LA, has roads so crowded that people will move to something like light rail in order to reduce travel time. Give them autonomous cars at the city end to get them the last leg if transit is too far to easily walk.

            What’s missing, IMO, in public transportation is a premium level choice. There are people who avoid public transportation because they do not want to get ride in a scrum. Give people the option of paying something more and being assured a seat on a nicer appointed rapid rail/metro car. The people who commute to their job in nicer clothes and want to get some work done during the commute may decide it better to take public transportation and not deal with driving and parking.

            Bangkok has two classes of city buses. There are the non-AC buses that can get packed full. Then for a higher price there are AC buses which stops picking up people once the seats are full.

          • Ian

            It’s true that getting around cities like LA or the Bay Area in cars is slow, frustrating and car-choked. But it’s also impossible to build good public transit in these environments. Building something separated from the street traffic is very expensive. Building a network of transit separated from street traffic that would have stops within walking distance of most points in the sprawl of these urban areas would be prohibitively expensive. The transit that we have in most of these cities is used by only a tiny minority of folks who fall into a few categories: They are lucky enough to live and work close to transit stops or they have no other choice because they can’t drive or afford a car. Even if you are lucky enough to live and work in convenient locations for transit, if you still have to pay for owning a car to get to all the other places you need to go, than you aren’t really saving much money taking transit. The unsubsidized cost of small, driverless vehicles that go point to point will be much lower than the unsubsidized cost big, fixed guideway transit systems, and a lot more convenient.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The Bay Area has BART. BART is really good. It can move a person quickly over a large area.

            Building a new public transportation route is expensive. But probably cheaper than adding more lanes to existing streets which could, in places, be done only by removing buildings. Going up a level with elevated light rail (Bangkok’s SkyTrain) is a possible solution. Quiet (electric propulsion on a non-clickity clack track) and fast (few stops and no cross traffic).

            BART has large parking lots. Clearly a lot of people are driving to the station and then using public transportation. Replace the private cars with autonomous cars and mini-buses to shuttle passengers to/from the station the last leg to their destination. No need to run lots of autonomous cars on the road for long distances when it can be done faster and cheaper with something like light rail.

            I’m going to continue to push the idea that public transportation needs a “comfort class” option. If I’m making good money I’m likely to pay the extra to ride in an autonomous car rather than do the commute hour sardine pack.

            If there was a guaranteed seat, comfortable seat with a drop down desk for my laptop/whatever, I’d be more likely to have an auto-car pick me up at my door and drop me off at the light rail station where I could get to my destination much faster but in decent comfort, then switch to another auto-car for the last leg.

          • Ian

            I think you’re right that one of the big advantages of public transit over cars is that you can get a lot of work done on your smartphone or tablet, which you can’t do while driving. I live half time in two places- Barcelona and the Bay Area. In the Bay Area I have to almost always use a car other than a few trips that are near transport. It can take many hours to get from, for example, Berkeley to Palo Alto. A trip like that on a weekend will take half the day, especially if you have to take a bus at either end. Such a trip requires multiple transfers on systems without frequent service. In BCN I don’t even have access to a car and my work requires me to go all over the metropolitan area. None of my trips, even to the outer suburbs, take more than half an hour. I would estimate that 90% of the population there lives and works within a short walk of a rail or subway station. The typical residential urban fabric in Barcelona (including most of its suburbs) is apartment blocks of about 5 to 10 stories. The Bay Area is almost all single family detached houses. There is probably about a 20 to 0ne difference in population density. That’s why public transit works there and not here.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Europe and Asia have much better developed public transportation systems than does the US. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. And the reasons that is so is clear. Europe and Asia built up far sooner than did North America and built up before private cars were common. If one looks at the older large cities in the US one finds better developed public transportation.

            When most of the US built up people had cars. The country was enjoying a booming middle class, cars were affordable, and gas was cheap. Now the US is stuck with its lower density cities. Those cities might change, becoming more dense, and the suburbs might disappear but it won’t happen quickly if it happens at all.

            My guess is that the prices of cars will drop over the next 10 to 20 years. EVs will be cheaper to manufacture than ICEVs. Autonomous driving cars and collision avoidance systems should allow cars to reduce weight and cost. Insurance cost will go down. Parking difficulties will decrease. Obviously the cost of “fueling” and maintaining a car will be lower.

            All this leads, IMO, to continued existence of the US suburb and possibly an expansion. Young people can find city life exciting but people raising children often want a safe place for their children to play outside. And a lot of people simply dislike the crush of cities.

            Many US cities are overloaded with cars. I think it reasonable to make changes within the city where people who live in densely populated areas will feel no need to own a car. Within cities we should strive for excellent public transportation and strive to build excellent public transportation between cities. A city dweller should have no need for a car to travel within the city and no need to have a car to travel to another city where, again, they encounter excellent public transportation.
            The best route for the US and similar countries might be to move to a ‘spoke and hub’ model of ground transportation where private or pay by the mile autonomous cars bring people to rapid public transportation hubs. If my car or a car I summon can take me to the light rail station which will whisk me to the part of the city where I’m heading and then I can jump into another car or on a but and finish my commute quickly I’d probably do that rather than spend time in traffic. If one can make the commute from home to work and back again for less money and quicker than driving thier own car I think a lot of people would make that choice.

            A lot of words which boil down to – I suspect there won’t be a one size fits all solution.

      • Brian

        I think we need a combination of solutions. Dedicated exclusive bus lanes, have been proven to work in Brazil, China, and other countries. We already know that only physically barrier protected bike lanes will encourage bicycling, because otherwise, it is too dangerous to ride a bike. Also let’s get rid of SUV’s and big sport pickup trucks. Most drivers are single occupancy. Reducing the speed limit to 30 MPH in cities, saves lives, and allows solar electric velomobiles like the ELF to replace cars. Isn’t it better to replace 2 ton cars with a solar electric velomobile like the ELF, that can go 30 MPH with pedaling, requires no gas, recharges, and needs no license or registration, so it saves massive amounts of money. Most car trips are 6 miles or less, so using a 2 ton car is a waste of resources. A velomobile recently went 80 MPH and set a speed record. They are far lighter and more efficient than cars. Add an electric motor, and you have a revolutionary replacement to the car, which is what the ELF is.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I mostly agree with you but not totally. All cities are not the same. There are highways in some cities which are designed to move people longer distances quickly and to get vehicles in and out quickly. Thirty miles per hour on ‘surface streets’ seems fine. Are their cities which allow drivers to go faster than 30 MPH downtown and on residential streets?

          No licenses? Nope. We need a way to keep people who shouldn’t be driving from driving. We need to make sure that people who drive even 30 MPH know the rules.

          Get rid of SUVs and big sport pickups? No. We need to electrify them. If people want to pay for the sheet metal and electricity, that’s their choice. Build in collision avoidance to all cars and then we don’t need to worry about big SUVs/pickups crushing us.

          Once we have adequate collision avoidance systems in place we can lighten all vehicles. We don’t need to ride around in crash-hardened vehicles if they will never be involved in a crash.

          • Freddy D

            Correct. Cars are cars, regardless of pickups or priuses. Even the Prius and the EV take tremendous amounts of land for roads and gridlock. Rail, bikes, and rapid bus reduce gridlock and are much more land friendly.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s correct but it’s not the important battle to fight right now.

            Let people drive cars. That’s what they want to do. But give them cars built from sustainable materials and powered by renewable energy.

            At the same time we should be improving bike lanes and public transportation and hopefully attract some people out of their cars. But don’t make this about people giving up stuff. We’ve tried that since the 1960s and it doesn’t get us very far.

          • Freddy D

            Agree – I’m not suggesting banning cars, rather to add high-capacity alternatives to the portfolio that reduce congestion, travel faster, and, when designed properly, move people more economically than cars. ( high capacity transit can hit 20cents/passenger mile where cars are in the zone of 57cents according to the irs)

            Main points are decongestion, time savings and better land use.

        • Benjamin Nead

          The one instance where the ELF would be a great deal is if you could find a nice used one for, say, $1500 or so. I know they retail new for around $5K and that’s a pretty steep ticket when compared to the prices used EV are going for these days. I respect anyone who makes a velomobile like the ELF their primary mode of transportation (and I know a nice woman who drives one and brought it out to one of our NDEW events a couple years ago.) But, yeah, you’ve got to have the spirit and a little extra cash to blow just to get started.

          To put this into perspective, I’ve own a pretty nice Raleigh single speed bike that I built from a frame I found on Craig’s List for a few hundred dollars. I even splurged and had some fancy 650B wheels made for it. I used it for my non-car transportation purposes for about a year and a half and, utility wise, it was almost as practical as a velomobile would have been. While it’s been collecting dust in recent months, I’m going to fix it up and be riding again soon, now that the warm late winter weather is returning here.

          I’m reading you 5 by 5 regarding the idiocy of massive SUVs that carry around just the driver. If it makes you feel any better, the i-MiEV is a 2500 pound vehicle with a 4 star NHSTA rating with enough off-the-line pep to get out of the way of those road hogs, can be safely driven at freeway speeds (but not terribly far before having charge, alas,) and costs 2 to 3 cents per mile to drive. There’s room for 3 passengers or, with the rear seat folded down, about 40 cubic feet of cargo. And, of course, it has all the “borgeois extras” like a CD/radio and air conditioning.

          The uploaded photo shown here is one I took this morning, right outside my front door, before I unplugged the “vanilla jellybean” and drove off to work. Note the proximity of the saguaro cacti (which never get any exhaust soot blown on them) so that the EVSE cord can make the stretch to the outlet. I’m working on a more satisfactory home charging scenario with shade on the side of my house as we speak.

          The next house (this one is a rental) will have solar and enough of it to offset anything I’m drawing from the grid.

          • Brian

            Thanks for sharing that. I’m really looking hard at buying a used Mitsubishi I-Meav I’ve seen them as low as $7,000, which is less than one fourth the $25,000 I spent on my 2015 Toyota Prius. I only drive on average about 10 miles a day. I know a 220 with a charger will reduce my electric bill because it charges faster, but I’ve decided to use my 110 outlet for at least two years. Assuming I charge it every other day, with a 110 outlet, how much do you estimate it would raise my electric bill?

          • Benjamin Nead

            Good for you. I’m one of those who got an i-MiEV for around $7K. Just last week, I recounted at length what I did to find it. Check the comments section here . . .


            The fellow I was communicating with there lives in British Columbia and I referenced Canadian web sites to help him locate used electric cars in that locale. If you’re in the US, the ones you’ll want to used are Car-dot-com and Car-Gurus-dot-com. Play around with the search parameters and have fun shopping.

            Another web resource that contains a bevy of practical
            i-MiEV information compiled by owners is the My i-MiEV Forum . . .


            The 120V EVSE that came with my car was from a later model i-MiEV and allows the user to select current at either 12A or 8A. If you find a used 2012 i-MiEV and it has the original EVSE, it will be 8A only. Like the 1st generation Leaf, the car’s internal charger is 3.3kW, so charging a near empty battery is never going to be quick regardless of which EVSE you happen to have.

            There are 16 “bars” displayed on the rather minimal i-MiEV dash indicating battery capacity. When it gets down to 3 bars you will probably have around 15 to 20 miles of range left. I try to be not too far from home when I’m getting into that territory. At 12A, it’s about 10 to 11 hours to bring it back up to full from 3 bars. At 8A, it will take as long as 16 hours. Hence, I’m always setting the EVSE at 12A.

            I haven’t bothered with 240V public charging yet. No
            real need for it, actually. My car is also equipped with a CHAdeMO port for 440V DC fast charging (an upgrade option on the 2012s, standard on the 2014s and 2016s)
            and I envision using this when I finally decide to do a Tucson to Phoenix road trip.

            As for electric use at home, figure that I charge from 3 or 4 bars to full or near full about every other day. That’s about 10kWh of the 16kWh battery. So, if I charge that way 3 time per week, that’s around 30kWh. Residential electrical rates in Tucson is $0.14 per kWh. So, that’s around $4.20 per week, or around an extra $16.80 on your monthly electric bill.

            Another way of looking at it is that I drove 380 miles in January 2016. If that’s $16.80 of electricity, that works out to around $0.04 per mile . . . or about half of what my wife is paying to drive her similarly-sized/appointed Honda Fit on (currently super cheap) $1.50 per gallon gasoline.

            The electrical service I’m putting in on the side of the houses, where I hope to be charging later this spring, will have a submeter that will allow for far more accurate electrical use monitoring.

          • Brian

            Thanks for the info. I usually spend just over $30.00 a month filling up my Prius, so if my electric bill goes up $20.00 or $30.00 a month, that’s not bad. If gas prices go back up, it will be a really good deal, and I will save money. Unfortunately I don’t have a garage, so I have to charge the car in my driveway. I’m worried that someone will steal the charging cord. Do many people who lack garages, like me, still charge their electric cars in their driveway?

          • Benjamin Nead

            Well, as you can see, I don’t have a garage either.
            My midtown Tucson neighborhood is pretty mellow,
            the bedroom window is about 30 feet away and we have a miniature schnauzer who sleeps lightly and lets us know if anyone is poking around the front yard.

            I know that late model Leafs have a feature that electronically locks the plug into place, until the vehicle owner clicks a button on the key fob to unlock it. No such feature on older Leafs or the i-MiEV, but there are provisions on most J1772 plugs to loop a small padlock through the plug handle’s release lever and this effectively prevents most casual thieves from unplugging the EVSE and walking away from it.

    • Benjamin Nead

      I’m on board with you on more car free zones and dedicated bike lanes. More comprehensive public transportation is also good. But you are going to get a lot of blowback from people who would otherwise support your ideas with the 30mph max speed limit in the cities. The big SUV drivers with Trump/Cruz bumper stickers will ignore the lower speed limit anyway. They seem to do that now where I live, where 35mph is the posted limit on the side streets and 45mph is the limit on the main thoroughfares, consistently whizzing by at 10mph above what the signage is displaying.

      And, while I don’t have anything against the ELF (other than the fact that a late model used EV for under $10 basically makes it a non-starter in today’s market,) where do they fit in? They don’t easily squeeze into a bike lane and two-wheel-pedalers want them out of their way. They don’t even like the idea of two wheel e-bikes on bike lanes. So, the ultralight 3 wheel electric assist vehicle becomes something that is forced to share the road with cars. Then, those oversized SUVs with the stupid drivers blasting down the road beyond any posted speed limit will slaughter them. It’s not something I’m wishing for, it’s just how it will play out in the real world.

      • Brian

        I agree it’s not going to happen because too many people will not give up their SUV’s and sport pick up trucks. A collision with a 4 ton SUV would spell immediate death in a small 170 pound velomobile like the ELF. Unfortunately we live in a car centric culture, that worships the car, as if it is the only sacred alternative. I, on the other hand would like to see all cars, big sport trucks and SUV’s banned in cities. I am against the car because many die in accidents, and it is so wasteful to have a 2 ton piece of steel to do what a 170 pound velomobile can do for most short distance travel in the cities. So, I’m sorry, I disagree with Bob Wallace, you, and others. However since my dream is a fantasy, and will never happen, I would like to see electric cars and busses to replace all dirty gas cars and busses. Used electric cars like the I-Meav are selling as low as $7,000 and used Nissan Leaf’s are as low as $8,000. I plan on buying a used EV as my next car, because they are so much cheaper to maintain with no oil changes, fuel system flushes, and all the other expensive garbage that come with dirty gas cars. Also, not having to fill up with gas, but instead charging the car in my driveway is much more convenient. thanks.

        • Bob_Wallace

          ” Unfortunately we live in a car centric culture, that worships the car”

          I think that’s a bit of hyperbole. Sure, there is a portion of the public that loves cars but I suspect it’s a rather small minority. Most people view cars as something they need to move from place to place. Many people dislike the cars they need.

          Let’s separate safety from vehicle size. As we build in collision avoidance systems the odds of a tiny car being hit by a great big car approaches zero.

          Our main job is getting rid of fossil fuels.

  • Dan

    Autonomous cars seem to have gotten people’s imagination rolling toward what’s possible. Electric cars and charging infrastructure seem perfectly suited for autonomy. Self charging, parking, and hailing of electric cars makes them much more efficient and basically solved city parking issues, especially for ridesharing applications.

    More bikes and car free zones in cities would make them far more pleasant to live in.

    • Martin

      People in Europe have known for years that car free zones are much more pleasant to live in, besides they are also better for any business in that location as well.

    • sjc_1

      Families can have one car if it is autonomous. Instead of letting a car sit in a parking lot for 8 hours, it is put to use. A lot less parking lot space as well.

      • Benjamin Nead

        Unless the two breadwinners in the family are needing to use a vehicles at exactly the same time, which is the situation we often face in our two vehicle household.

      • Jerry3130

        Autonomous car can be used on demand, so there is no need to own even one car, unless you need to be on the road more than 4-5 hours everyday.

    • Freddy D

      Autonomous and electric cars fundamentally contradict the principle of car-free zones. They still require massive land use, create gridlock, and can only move 1000 people per hour per lane, whereas rail can move 30,000 people per hour in the same space. (And at 80mph I might add).

      I’ve watched our regional “long range” transportation plans 25 years out pull together a long list of small local projects already in the plan and call it the “2040 regional transportation plan”. What the US transportation planners sorely need to do is an architectural approach that emphasizes fully interconnected high-capacity transport like grade-separated rail, protected bike lanes, and rapid bus.

      Unfortunately, US transportation “planning” essentially stopped in about 1970 and has just been random road widening since then.

      • Jerry3130

        Agree, and the autonomous electric car can be used for the last mile solution outside of car free zones, to promote the ridership of mass transit.

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