To avoid the cops, SideCar making all SXSW rides free

Author: Daniel Terdiman

Last week, the Austin City Council ruled that services built around drivers charging riders a fee without the appropriate license were illegal and constituted a crime. That meant that SideCar drivers, who are expected to be prowling the streets of the Texas capital during SXSW this week, risked getting arrested.

SideCar is built around letting drivers who have extra seats in their cars make a little money by picking up riders, who use the company’s app to call for a lift. The service is similar to that available in a number of cities, like Lyft.

Today, SideCar announced that in an attempt to keep its drivers from risking being charged with a crime, it was making all rides free during SXSW.

That decision was, the company said, merely a stop-gap, since it doesn’t consider its service illegal.

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ecoENERGY Initiative: Another Step in the Right Direction for Electric Mobility Canada

Electric Mobility Canada (EMC) applauds the federal government on the ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative recently announced by the Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources. The $97-million program will invest in the electrification of transportation through electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, covering 50% of costs.

The program’s objective is to support energy technology innovation to produce and use energy in a cleaner and more efficient way. This initiative is a key component of the Government of Canada’s actions to achieve real emissions reductions, while maintaining Canada’s economic advantage and its ability to create jobs for Canadians. It will also help in the search for long-term solutions to reduce and eliminate air pollutants from energy production and use.

Al Cormier, President and CEO of EMC indicated that various EMC members that deal with this infrastructure aspect should be greatly encouraged to take advantage of this new federal announcement. “It will help Canadians take advantage of alternative methods of transportation. Promoting the electric mobility community, be it business, universities or individuals, is paramount to giving Canadian a choice in the energy used for their transportation needs, ” said Cormier.

EMC members represent a large value chain of electric drive, vehicle and equipment manufacturers, energy providers, component suppliers, research institutions, government agencies and end users that will take part in the development of this initiative.

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New study on car subsidy schemes

Car fleet renewal programmes in US, France, Germany fall short of their potential on emissions and safety benefits.

Car fleet renewal schemes introduced in the US, France and Germany fell short of their potential to deliver on environmental and safety objectives, according to a new report published by the International Transport Forum at the OECD and the FIA Foundation today.

The focus of the 70-page study are three of the largest car fleet renewal schemes introduced primarily to stimulate consumer spending on cars in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis.

The study investigates the impact on CO2 and NOx emissions of 2.8 million transactions in which old cars were traded for new vehicles under car fleet renewal schemes in France, Germany and the United States. The report assesses the value for money of the different schemes and identifies critical design elements for ensuring success in meeting the environmental and safety objectives.

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Across Europe, Irking Drivers Is Urban Policy

Author: Elisabeth Rosenthal

While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation.

Cities including Vienna to Munich and Copenhagen have closed vast swaths of streets to car traffic. Barcelona and Paris have had car lanes eroded by popular bike-sharing programs. Drivers in London and Stockholm pay hefty congestion charges just for entering the heart of the city. And over the past two years, dozens of German cities have joined a national network of “environmental zones” where only cars with low carbon dioxide emissions may enter.

Likeminded cities welcome new shopping malls and apartment buildings but severely restrict the allowable number of parking spaces. On-street parking is vanishing. In recent years, even former car capitals like Munich have evolved into “walkers’ paradises,” said Lee Schipper, a senior research engineer at Stanford University who specializes in sustainable transportation.

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Nevada Governor Signs Driverless Car Bill Into Law

Author: Ryan Calo

According to the Nevada Legislature’s website, AB 511 “revis[ing] certain provisions governing transportation” passed the Assembly (36-6) and the Senate (20-1) and was signed into law by the governor this week.

Although I am aware of no law that prohibits driverless cars, this appears to be the first law officially to sanction the technology. Specifically, the law provides that the Nevada Department of Transportation “shall adopt regulations authorizing the operation of autonomous vehicles on highways within the State of Nevada.” The law charges the Nevada DOT with setting safety and performance standards and requires it to designate areas where driverless cars may be tested. (Note that this could take some serious time: Japan, for instance, has been promising standards for personal robots for years and has yet to release them.)

I believe a previous version of the bill had an exception to the ban on texting for passengers in cars that drove themselves. Otherwise, the law is substantially similar to the bill I discussed in April. So I have the same nits. Overall, however, this is great development. Autonomous driving has serious potential but its safety and savings need to be evidenced in a controlled environment. Nevada—former host of the DARPA Grand Challenge—is now the lead car in the caravan.

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Move It! How the U.S. gets transportation policy wrong—and how to get it right

Author: Robert Puentes

The public sector spends north of $170 billion each year on transportation, and we’ll need to spend even more to modernize our battered infrastructure.

But before we start writing more checks, we need to stop and think long and hard about transportation. Not only are we spending too little right now, but we’re also not spending it wisely.

The nation lacks a clear-cut vision for transportation, and no way to target spending to make sure all those billions of dollars help achieve our economic and environmental goals. That means we have a lot of bridges to nowhere, with nobody making sure that these big investments generate enough returns to be worthwhile, or that they address any number of the large, thorny problems that are crucial to the well-being of the nation.

For instance, we do a great job of building new roads—since 2000, we’ve added enough new lane miles to circle the globe four times. Yet border crossings, crucial to our nation’s exports, are chronically congested, and there’s no concerted effort to help unblock them. Meanwhile, at the government’s urging, companies are gearing up to produce large numbers of electric cars, but there is no assurance that drivers will have anywhere close to enough places to recharge them.

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