Kendra K. Levine's blog

Accessibility and the Sharing Economy: Leap, Uber, Lyft and ADA requirements


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The disruption of traditional transportation by startups like Uber and Lyft has created waves and caused many cities and agencies to re-examine how they regulate taxis and the livery system. Now it looks like upstarts like Leap and Chariot, aiming to disrupt public transit, may be on the same course. 

It was reported today that last month a complaint was filed with the Department of Justice because Leap has failed to make its buses accessible to wheelchairs. This echoes similar concerns that has been expressed about Uber and Lyft. It is important to note that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require automobiles to be accessible, while other types of vehicles (vans and buses) must be accessible. 

Transit is crucial in providing accessible mobility options for people with disabilities, which is important to the quality of life. There has been much research focused on how to improve these transportation networks, including using taxis as a potential form of paratransit. TNCs like Uber and Lyft have improved accessible for some groups, it has been inconsistent. This review of Uber from the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) points out the service works well with iOS, but that they Android app is not accessible. There is also the issue that riders with guide dogs might be refused a ride and "there appears to be no legal recourse that can be taken under the ADA at this time." The AFB has since filed a lawsuit against Uber and the DOJ now says Uber must comply with ADA. These sorts of regulatory growing pains seem to be a part of disruptive transportation companies maturity, which is why the complaint filed against Leap isn't very surprising. 

The Leap case also raises the existential question - what does it mean to be a transit service? Part of Leap's argument is that they do not provide transit, rather they connect riders with an operator. This is the same position Uber and Lyft have taken with regard to its relationship with riders and drivers, which also has a lawsuit in the courts. Leap and Chariot are basically modern jitneys that compliment existing services and jitneys are not exempt ADA requirements.

New article: Impact of Parking Prices and Transit Fares on Mode Choice at the University of California, Berkeley


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A new article from the Transportation Research Record is especially close to home, examining what it would take to reduce the rate of single-occupancy vehicle community here to UC Berkeley. In "Impact of Parking Prices and Transit Fares on Mode Choice at the University of California, Berkeley," Frank Proux, Brian Cavagnolo, and Mariana Torres-Montoya use data from a campus-wide survey and discrete choice models to investigate. They find:

The University of California, Berkeley, and the City of Berkeley sought to reduce single-occupancy-vehicle commute trips to the campus as a means to reduce negative transportation externalities and to fulfill their environmental emissions reduction goals. This paper reports on the evaluation of policy scenarios to assess the potential impact of parking pricing and transit fare subsidies on the overall mode share of the University of California, Berkeley, community. A mode and parking choice model was developed on the basis of a biennial campuswide transportation and housing survey; policy alternatives were tested with a sample enumeration. The discrete choice model selected for policy analysis was a nested logit model calibrated on a randomly selected subsample of n 5 3,371 individuals and validated against the remaining 814 campus commuters. Factors found to influence mode choice significantly in this model included travel times and costs, gender, student status, age older than 70, and home location topography. Campus affiliates also appeared to have a predisposition to walk, which likely reflected the large student population that lived close to campus. A drive-alone value of time of approximately $30 per hour was calculated. Policy scenario tests suggested that, to spur a significant mode shift away from that of driving alone, parking pricing reforms would need to be used in tandem with incentives to use alternative modes. Such an approach might garner additional political support, especially if commuters who drove alone received the indirect benefits of transit subsidies, such as reduced congestion and a less competitive parking market. Policies designed to mitigate the regressive impacts of parking fees were tested also.

The full paper can be found here. If parking pricing and demand is of interest to you, then you should check out the rest of the issue. One of the other articles covers residential parking permits in the city of Berkeley

Library Closed March 23-27


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We're closed this week, March 23 through March 27, for Spring Break. It's also National Work Zone Safety Week, so expect the unexpected. We'll see you on Monday, March 30. 

Dynamic Dispatch for Same-Day Delivery


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Last week's Friday seminar featured Georgia Tech professor (and ITS Berkeley alum) Alan L. Erera presenting his work in the area of dynamic dispatching for same-day deliveries, focusing on the last mile problem. He briefly mentioned that he would not be discussing drones because they are not as efficient as trucks due to batching (and the new FAA regulations make them even more unfeasible). Erera focused on optimizing delivery dispatch multiple times throughout the day with prediction of when new orders may arrive and how to route the deliveries. Here are his slides so you can experience the talk all over again (without cookies).

Making City-Scale Networks of Connected Vehicles Reality


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Last week's Friday Seminar featured João BarrosAssociate Professor at the University of Porto and CEO of Veniam talking about how he and his team turned public transit into smart city hot spots for Porto. After early attempts to use cellular technology for connected vehicles, which had major bottlenecks in the networks and was cost prohibitive, Barros explored the possibilities of using wi-fi technology to create a city wide mesh network. This builds upon some of Barros' earlier research that looked into the feasibility and impact of VANETs in urban environments

The key to Veniam's success on Porto has been the city's fibre-optic backbone to create wifi hotspots around the city, like bus stops. A combination of wifi and the IEEE 802.11p standard for wireless vehicle communication, and deployment in fleets such as many of the city's taxis and Metro de Porto's fleet, made the city wide mesh network possible. It also made it very cheap to offer free wifi on the entire bus fleet, which has pleased passengers

For the buses, the connectivity can be used for ticketing, navigation, infotainment, and vehicle diagnostics. This has also created a very rich, high definition data set of the fleet's operations which has informed service and route updates. 

The mesh network has also been very effective in tracking operations at Porto de Leixões. Early attempts to track vehicles with cellular technology were hindered by the lack of cell towers in the industrial area and interference from shipping containers. The wifi mesh network has made it possible to track port traffic to improve efficiency and safety. 

Barros hinted that the next wave of innovation could be in the field of wearables. His group had a project that tracked bus driver comfort and stress to better understand their behavior and how it depends on the built environment. 

How to deal with parking at UC Berkeley


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Campus parking at UC Berkeley, like many universities, is a hot comodity. The only people who get free and easy parking on campus are Nobel Laureates, though even they have to renew their permits. Recently a case study about parking on campus was published in Case Studies on Transport Policy. William Riggs from Cal Poly San Louis Obispo descibes how balancing transit incentives and parking pricing can shift travel behavior, and how social incentives can be as effective as fiscal incentives. Here is the article

William Riggs, Dealing with parking issues on an urban campus: The case of UC Berkeley, Case Studies on Transport Policy, Volume 2, Issue 3, December 2014, Pages 168-176, ISSN 2213-624X, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cstp.2014.07.009.
 

 

Safety in Numbers? Peter Jacobsen talks about bicycle and pedestrian safety.


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Last Friday transportation consultant Peter Jacobsen was the featured speaker of the ITS Berkeley Transportation Seminar. He discussed his reseasrch in bicycle and pedestrian safety captured in his seminal paper, "Safety in Numbers" (Injury Prevention, v.9 no. 3, 2013). One of the questions he raised was how to define safety. Is it reflected in the data (number of incidents) or behavior (which is difficult to tease from that data)? Jacobsen remarked that, "No one swims in shark infested waters." So when people think it is safer to ride their bicycle or walk, they will be more likely to do so - this is the crux of the safety in numbers thesis. Jacobsen's anaylsis showed that if cycling and walking increase by 300%, the individual's risk only increases 50%. This is also why Jacobsen's anlysis shows that cyclists in Upland, CA have 8-times greater risk than cyclists here in Berkeley. He then suggested there needs to be more research into whether or not more bicycles increase safety for pedestrians and vice versa. 

Jacobsen also made an interesting observation that increased pedestrian safety is not tied to behvaior. He related an anecdote about pedestrians in Sacramento who are very alert because they don't expect cars to yield to them, while pedestrians in Berkeley are often more distracted (with their heads in their phones) because they know cars will yield. Their comfort with the situation is reflected in their behavior. Jacobsen also used the iconic crosswalk of Abbey Road as an example of the evolution of street markings for safety. Watch the live stream now to see it in action - flashing crossing lights, zig-zag lane markers, and more to make it safe for crossing. 

He also discussed other papers that had interestesting observations about bicycle/pedestrian safety. One, "For heaven’s sake follow the rules: pedestrians’ behavior in an ultra-orthodox and a non-orthodox city," by Rosenbloom, Nemrodov, and Barkan compares pedestrian compares pedestrian behavior in an ultra-orthodox Israeli city to that in a quite secular city. The other is "Evidence on Why Bike-Friendly Cities Are Safer for All Road Users" by Marshall and Garrick, which investigates if bicycles improve traffic safety for all modes. 

 

Bike/Ped Data, Bike/Ped Planning

Catch up

Here are a couple of Berkeley bike/ped related things to start off your week.

First, this month NCHRP Report 797: Guidebook on Pedestrian and Bicycle Volume Data Collection has been published, which included some Berkeley researchers on the team that compiled the guidebook. You can read about their methodology here

Second, on Saturday 31 January, 2015 from 10:00am to noon the city of Berkeley hosts the Adeline Corridor Redesign Community Meeting at the South Berkeley Senior Center (2992 Ellis Street). Many of the proposed design ideas focus on improving access and safety for pedestrians and cyclists in the area. In 2010, a UC Berkeley Design Studio examined the area, and you can see their designs here. Are they going to be implemented? Time will tell. 

Accessing TRB Annual Meeting Papers

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Last week many of you attended the TRB 94th Annual Meeting in DC. All meeting registrants have complimentary access to all of the Annual Meeting Papers online. You can access the Compendium of papers online.

When logging in, use email address you registered for the meeting under. Your initial password will be your 6-digit registration confirmation code. Once you log in, you can then change your password. You will have access to the papers from 2015 and back to 2011. Presentations from this year will be available online after March. 

If you did not attend the Annual Meeting and want to access the papers we have them available at the library. Just ask for them at the circulation desk, or email us directly. 

Let's play Cards Against Urbanity!

After a successful Kickstarter campaign,  the folks at Greater Placers have launched Cards Against Urbanity. It's basically Cards Against Humanity for urbanists (and somewhat more SFW). We have a deck in the library, so come on over before the semester gets too busy and play a game. 

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