November 26, 2019  |  permalink

Brighter Talks: A New Podcast Series by Covestro

(Because one podcast isn’t enough, I’m hosting a new limited-edition series named “Brighter Talks” sponsored by the German plastics giant Covestro. Each episode focuses on a different aspect of how to improve urban life, with only a passing nod to better living through chemistry. Listen to the first episode on Spotify with Alanus von Radecki, who leads the Competence Team Urban Governance Innovation at Fraunhofer IAO and the innovation network “Morgenstadt: City Insights.” He is also the Lead Expert for the URBACT network “SmartImpact” and advises cities on the digital transformation of urban systems. Covestro’s highlights from the episode are below.)

In our new series #MyFutureCity, we invite experts from different industries to explore answers for tackling the future of urbanization. Here, Alanus von Radecki writes about the effect of digital transformation on a city’s infrastructure and why street lighting can play an important role in building a smart city.

Today, more than 50 percent of the human population lives in cities, where they consume approximately 70 percent of global man-made energy. “Population growth is quite a challenge for metropolitan areas because their systems simply haven’t been designed to manage such large numbers or the increasingly networked lifestyles of modern city dwellers,” says von Radecki.

Already, urban infrastructure is struggling to adequately respond to citizens’ current needs, and the population still continues to grow steadily. “There’s no way around modernizing our infrastructures,” shares von Radecki. As a result, a tremendous paradigm shift in our innovation system is necessary. In the past, cities have evolved as by-product of digital technologies, but to create a more livable urban future, this digital dynamic must be changed.

“We need to make sure that cities don’t just react to progress; they must become proactive,” explains von Radecki. “We need to develop technologies for cities, responding with innovation to the needs of urban citizens.” We have the capacity to deliberately shape our infrastructural systems: Digital transformation is already well underway, and artificial intelligence (AI), 5G networks and the Internet of Things (IoT) have the power to set the minds of engineers, architects and urban planners into a creative spin.

How to get creative with infrastructure
There are many starting points for developing new urban infrastructures or successively revamping parts of existing infrastructures with more intelligent solutions. One example is to focus on streetlights. Up to 50 percent of municipal energy budgets go toward illuminating streets, alleyways and neighborhoods. “What if we switched to LED lighting? Making this swap would significantly increase energy efficiency, reducing streetlights’ electricity consumption by up to 80 percent,” calculates von Radecki.

Moreover, these LED streetlamps have the potential to become smart. “If LED streetlamps were digitally interconnected, we could program them to stop the always-on, careless wastage of megawatts,” says von Radecki “Instead, a lamp would only shine if there were someone nearby. We could even teach these streetlights to send out various types and intensities of light as well as make them reactive to the natural light of our days and nights. All this would help manage energy and reduce light pollution.”

But smart lighting systems can do more than just contribute to energy management. LED streetlamps, as well as many other urban infrastructure elements, can collect interesting data and information about our city and everyday life between buildings. “We can use smart streetlamps to measure air pollution, monitor traffic and or oversee pedestrian flows at big events,” notes von Radecki. All this recorded data can then be sent to and used by the responsible city department.

For example, data relevant for air quality would be transferred to a city administration’s environmental department, road congestions would be reported to the local traffic control center and lighting would be controlled by the department of utilities. This data would enable all these service units to act and react precisely and efficiently, saving valuable resources. “It’s all about interconnecting singular technologies. The networking part is key.”

Smart Infrastructure, a shiny dream of the future?
Some cities have already adopted smart lighting networks – for example, Singapore or Stockholm. In San Diego, there are also plans to install 3,000 sensors in streetlights, with the intention to create an interconnected Internet of Things (IoT) and eventually transform the metropolis into a smart city. These are just three example cities embracing digitalization, but there are many other metropolises around the globe planning to innovate their infrastructure, aiming to create value for their citizens and make their hometowns brighter places.

In the cities where digital transformation is in full swing, the experience is proving to be positive. But there’s no one-fits-all solution. What works for Stockholm may not work for Quito. Every city is unique and needs tailor-made answers.

Each town has its own blend of citizens, and they all have different priorities. They attach their individual values to different solutions and services. “By using what we call ‘living labs,’ we can test solutions in different cities,” says von Radecki. “If something doesn’t work as well as anticipated, we can adapt or alter the solution to fit that specific city. If something does work, we can scale it up.”

When will it happen?
“We can’t keep tinkering forever,” the scientist warns. “We want to reduce carbon emissions drastically within the next 15 to 20 years.” These ambitious goals can best be achieved by a meaningful digitization of our urban infrastructures.

“We need to focus on gaining momentum so that in 10 years time, the majority of metropolitan areas will run on enhanced and interconnected smart infrastructure systems, creating real value for the city dwellers, reducing emissions and making each city a brighter place to live in,” explains von Radecki. “We still have a lot of work ahead of us!”


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November 11, 2019  |  permalink

All Things Urban Interview: Autonomous Mobility, Twitter and Blade Runner


(All Things Urban’s Anastasia Sukhoroslova was kind enough to interview me ahead of this week’s CoMotion LA. The original interview is here; I’ve reposted below.)

Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker on the future of cities, technology, and mobility. He is the director of applied research at NewCities and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot CoMotion, as well as a co-author of the international bestseller Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.

In the run-up to the CoMotion LA Leadership Conference, we spoke with Greg about his career in urbanism, what brought him to the field and how he envisions the future of cities and urban mobility.

Your career started in journalism. How did it shift to urbanism?

It’s like the line from The Sun Also Rises about bankruptcy: gradually, and then suddenly. My interest in cities was awoken by the fact that ultimately every fundamental challenge of the 21st century — whether climate change or inequality, mobility or opportunity — are all urban challenges as well. The city is where these problems and paradoxes are made flesh. And so that’s where I found myself trying to make sense of the world.

What was the most exciting project you worked on, and what was special about it?

From a purely intellectual standpoint, it was when I was asked by the architect Jeanne Gang to join her team for a 2011-2012 MoMA exhibition named “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream.” It was an effort to grapple with what had gone wrong before and after the Great Recession and foreclosure crisis, and whether there was anything designers could do about it. It was fascinating for me because, as a journalist, it was my first time sitting on the same side of the table as architects and understanding how they see the world. For me, everything is a story — what is our narrative arc and who are our characters? — and ideas are hung on that framework. For them, it was: what is our site, and what is our program? Meaning: what do we build and where do we build it? In this case, the site was Cicero, Illinois — no longer the hideout of Al Capone but an overwhelmingly Hispanic neighborhood — and our program was to invent new, more flexible ways of living and working that wasn’t necessarily tied to ownership. In 2012, we didn’t have a name for it, but today you would call it co-housing designed with the needs of local residents in mind. So, I’d like to think we were onto something, even though it never made it out of the museum.

A lot of your work is focused on the future of cities and urban mobility. Can you name three trends that seem most important to you?

Number one is the slow decline of public transport as we know it in the United States, and the causes are both clear (e.g. cars) and complex. On the one hand, a decade-long bull market means a lot of people have bought cars, even though Americans have unprecedented levels of auto debt and the length of car loans are beginning to exceed the length of actually owning the car — seven years, give or take. While that’s happening, bus ridership has declined across America due to disinvestment. (Congestion caused by ride-hailing is making the problem worse.)

The second is mobility-as-a-service, which started as a theoretical means for public agencies to embrace innovative private services while reasserting the importance of mass transit. Instead, the biggest enthusiasts are Uber and Lyft, which are building proprietary “walled gardens” to cross-subsidize operations and build moats around their business. We’re now in an arms race, and I hope cities embracing tools like LADOT’s Mobility Data Specification will swiftly create open standards for public mobility-as-a-service.

Third is autonomy. Not autonomous cars, but autonomy as a general capability that will trickle down to scooters and deliverybots and other forms of robotics that may only vaguely look vehicles. Autonomy will be a lot stranger than most people expect, and I’m anxious to see how cities will regulate them — and whether they will regulate them enough.

What advice would you give to those who are just starting their career in urbanism? What skills will be crucial in the next 5-10 years?

I’m honestly not sure. My core skills are pattern recognition and storytelling, and I don’t think you can go wrong using those to make sense of the world. Find the smartest people you can wherever you can and learn from them. Honestly, the most important tool in my kit is listening to conversations on Twitter.

What are the most thought-provoking books about cities that you’ve recently encountered?

The most thought-provoking book I haven’t read yet is Anthony Townsend’s GHOST ROAD. The best book on smart cities might be Tim Maughan’s INFINITE DETAIL or Bruce Sterling THE EPIC STRUGGLE OF THE INTERNET OF THINGS.

And also BLADE RUNNER, because if you recall the opening credits, the film is set in Los Angeles, November 2019. It’s not the future anymore, but a retro-future, a dystopia-that-could-have-been.

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October 30, 2019  |  permalink

CoMotion Podcasts: Bianca Wylie; Zak Accuardi & Erin Hafkenschiel, Rachel Weinberger, and More

CoMotion LA is around the corner on November 14-15 in the Arts District of Los Angeles. This means we’re sprinting to publish the final burst of podcast episodes before the festival. Before I publish the final four, here’s what you’ve missed over the last month or so:

• BlockSidewalk’s and Tech Reset Canada’s Bianca Wylie (above) on the dangers posed by both the public and private sectors when it comes to data collection and aggregation. (Check out her co-edited collection of alternatives to Sidewalk Toronto’s plans.)

•  Erin Hafkenschiel and Zak Accuardi on what went wrong with Nashville’s 2018 transit referendum (above), in which opposition groups successfully stoked fears of gentrification and the Koch Brothers poured money into Facebook ads and dark money groups.

• Rachel Weinberger, senior fellow for transportation at the Regional Plan Association in New York (above), on how to get congestion pricing right in New York.

• Natalia Quintero, program director of the Transit Tech Lab (above), on bringing in the most innovative and cutting-edge technology startups to remake New York’s public transit.

• Yuan Shi, global solution leader for New Mobility at Arcadis (above), about working with cities to bring about equitable micromobility first/last mile solutions.

• Bestmile’s Tony Pino (above) on ways to optimize fleet management.


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October 30, 2019  |  permalink

Blessed Be Those Who Wrangle Bureaucracies with The Movement

Usually I’m the one hosting the podcast, but in early October, Transloc’s director of strategy and partnerships Josh Cohen invited me to appear on his podcast, The Movement. In Episode 036, “Blessed Be Those Who Wrangle Bureaucracies,” I praise public transport and call for retribution against Uber and its ilk: “If we are going to get where we want to go, Greg Lindsay thinks we’re going to need more than just courage. We’ll also need to keep the best minds in the public sector, new tools to co-design the future, and a reckoning for private sector actors not serving the public interest.” Tune in above.

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October 29, 2019  |  permalink

reSITE 2019: REGENERATE in Eight Quotes

(Have I mentioned I was the guest curatror for the 2019 edition of reSITE? As a final (final) recap of this year’s conference, please watch the highlights video above and read below for eight quotes by speakers summarizing the conference. A little sad I won’t be returning next year, but it’s been an honor and a pleasure to curate the last two years.)

“Dull, inert cities, it is true, do contain the seeds of their own destruction and little else. But lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over for problems and needs outside themselves.” – Jane Jacobs

No, the late Jane Jacobs didn’t make it to our conference this year, but her words couldn’t be more timeless. This year, a global roster of mayors and architects, developers and designers, curators, and activists took to the reSITE 360-degree stage to dissect the idea of regenerating our cities from every angle.

Here are some of our favorite quotes we still have stuck in our heads from the 8th annual event keeping us inspired - and mindful - in how we go forth in designing and developing for future generations.


1. “Creativity is the ultimate renewable energy.” – Ravi Naidoo, Design Indaba

Ravi Naidoo, founder of the world-renowned festival Design Indaba, kicked off reSITE 2019 with words that rang throughout the two days of inspring ideas on city-making.“Creativity is the ultimate renewable energy” and is also the ultimate anthem to how we defined REGENERATE. When we are thinking about regenerating our cities to be more sustainable, more lovable, more accessible and more inclusive, we see our own regenerative creativity as the key.


2. “We’re forgetting that we have collective power.” –  Bianca Wyllie, TechReset Canada

Bianca Wylie has made a name for herself by putting what’s problematic about Toronto’s controversial smart city project developed by Sidewalk Labs on the map. Her outspoken, self-published criticisms of tech companies sliding their way into public spaces under the guise of liveability and the agenda of profit, have forced us to reconsider the dark side of smart cities. Wylie argues that public space isn’t a commodity and that it puts us close to undermining our democracy while reminding us to not be passive when it comes to who, or what, we are really building our cities for.


3. “With technology, we can design for uncertainty and rethink together the future of our cities.” – Marianthi Tatari, UNStudio

Dutch UNStudio’s Marianthi Tatari presented the other side of the coin on smart cities with what their aim to build the “smartest neighborhood in the world” - Brainport District. She reminded us that when used responsibly, this sort of technology can actually be beneficial to our lives, as long as we still retain privacy and control over where that data goes. It’s a reminder that we are building cities for people - not for profit.


4. “Making something that doesn’t feel like somewhere else that we’ve been.” – Thomas Heatherwick, Heatherwick Studio

In times where it seems there is nothing new under the sun, we applaud Heatherwick’s intentions and design process with his delicate approach to regeneration projects like Coal Drops Yard and Zeitz MOCAA which seem to capture just that. Known for his varied work defying the conventional classification of design disciplines, Thomas founded Heatherwick Studio to bring the practices of design, architecture and urban planning together in a single workspace. Next, he will bring those same principals to the Saravin complex and a whole new life to Prague’s Nové Město. We can only imagine what life will be pumped into this space!


5. “Every community has seeds of their own regeneration, right there.” – Emmanuel Pratt, Sweetwater Foundation

It just takes some intention and intervention to cultivate it. Emmanuel Pratt advises that giving people in vulnerable communities the tools to regenerate themselves creates an active process and a sense of ownership, making it easier for members to find that space to create. Pratt is a co-founder of the Sweetwater Foundation and 2019 MacArthur prize winner. He focuses on the transformative processes of economic development through intersections of food security and sustainable design innovation for the communities who need it most.


6. “We have to be ready for the city to shape us and not the other way around.” – Christopher Cabaldon, Mayor of West Sacramento

It’s an important discussion, one we’ve been discussing at reSITE events about who we include in the conversation on planning our urban spaces. The mayor of West Sacramento, Christopher Cabaldon makes the case for the fluid transaction that perhaps using the city to change the minds of the people helps progress us forward, rather than the other way around. Speaking from his 14-year reign in the California capital suburb, Cabaldon has turned the city around into what is considered one of the most livable small cities in the United States.


7. “If you can’t put yourself in the position of the other side, then you can’t be part of the conversation.” – Jee Liu, WallaceLiu

Perhaps a statement that could be applied towards solving just about any problem. Jee Liu, WallaceLiu represents a new generation of architects, building her co-founded studio on the complex relationships between the new and the old along with the importance of imersing yourself into the culture and perspectives of people. We couldn’t agree more.


8. “Every day is a regeneration of yourself.” – Eva Jiřičná, A.I. Design

Iconic Czech-born architect Eva Jiřičná had an ethereal kind of wisdom as she chatted with reSITE 2019 curator Greg Lindsay on our informal Live Mic stage. During the event, we are often talking about the regeneration on a large scale found in mostly tangible places around our cities, but it also happens on a microscale daily, amounting to the sum of the bigger picture. It brings us back full-circle to the first quote from Ravi Naidoo on creativity being the ulimate renewable energy.

Our trailblazing reSITE speakers, whose ideas, thoughts and questions left us to revitalize our own and reminded us of the fluidity regeneration holds. We all have the power to REGENERATE the way we engage our communities, utilize technology, and creatively innovate to redefine the spaces we live in for generations to come.

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September 30, 2019  |  permalink

Aerial Futures: Newburgh Enclosures

Back in May, the think/do tank Aerial Futures invited me to join a one-day workshop in Newburgh, NY to explore how the expanding connectivity of Stewart International Airport could play a pivotal role in the revitalization of the Hudson River Valley. Please click on the video above for my thoughts among many other smart people.

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September 29, 2019  |  permalink



(Last week, I was fortunate enough to guest curate the 8th annual reSITE festival in Prague — my fourth and likely final appearance, twice as curator. The official press release is below; if you’d prefer to listen in podcast form, Monocle has you covered. Personal highlights included Bianca Wylie laying waste to smart cities; McMansion Hell’s Kate Wagner dissecting sprawl-under-one-roof, and the Sweetwater Foundation’s Emmanuel Pratt on bottom-up regeneration. Video soon!)

In its most diverse edition yet, reSITE 2019 hosted a rich and interdisciplinary conversation about the future of life in cities. Centered on the theme of regeneration, the discussion tackled natural and urban revitalization, our collective power and responsibility as individuals and institutions to organize and solve the problems of climate change and housing affordability, among many. Others discussed the need to regenerate our public spaces to push back against an all-consuming online world. Technology will also play a role in planning for uncertainty, they argued.

“Regeneration has to be a continuous process. And I ask us to be mindful, when we think of regeneration,” Martin Barry opened the 8th global forum hosted by reSITE, which attracted twelve hundred participants from 25 countries to 3 stages, side events and parties.

Lessons learned
When it comes to cities, the whole of urban life is greater than the sum of its parts. As Tech Reset Canada’s Bianca Wylie noted, in the original translation of the phrase, the sum is also different than the whole of its parts. Cities are the sum of designers, developers, artists, citizens, public officials, entrepreneurs, and the displaced, she added, but rarely do each of these constituencies gather in the same room or even speak the same language, and cities suffer for it. “reSITE is literally that room,” guest curator Greg Lindsay noted — the event that frames the future of cities through all of these perspectives and convenes them in one place.  Against the backdrop of the climate crisis and the 20th September global climate strike, Wylie and her fellow speakers called on attendees to remember the collective power we possess as citizens, and architect Chris Precht reminded them that “Our generation asks, what is possible? Not what is profitable.”

What will be remembered from reSITE 2019
Thomas Heatherwick (Heatherwick Studio) disclosed at reSITE a new project to be built in Prague, the regeneration of Savarin complex adjacent to Wenceslas square, by Crestyl. He insisted that we should “keep old buildings and work around them. The blessing of old building is their texture and soulfulness. The places we love tend to be multi-layered.” He explained that his approach is “making something that doesn’t feel like somewhere else that we’ve been.“

Ravi Naidoo, the Founder of Design Indaba, kicked the conference off, asking us all to look introspectively with the question “What’s design for? Is it in service for people? Give it a higher purpose and a more noble service.” He stated that human creativity is the ultimate renewable energy, underlining the importance of technology for regeneration: “In the last century, it was enough to be literate, now you have to be techno-literate.“ and finally reminding us of the immense energy created in all of us coming together, coalescing and making it a force for good.

Chris Precht expressed the voice of his generation. He said that this generation of architects isn’t concerned with theory or concepts. “We’re concerned with the environment, with climate change, with sustainability. Our planet doesn’t care about fictional stories. Today we should build not for fictional stories but for our objective reality.” His practice creates spaces that connect with our senses. We can smell, taste and eat part of our buildings. It creates different city centers, not defined by banks and corporations, but health and vitality.

Bianca Wylie, co-founder of Tech Reset Canada has risen to notoriety through her criticisms of Sidewalk Labs and technology companies involvement in public spaces, arguing that they should not be commoditized. She reminded us all “that participating in all of these spaces very thoughtfully” is of great importance, and to not forget to act collectively: “I want to remind you that you all have power. And you need to start using it. Now. While it’s great to highlight the individual stories and projects, we also need to remember the power and the urgency of the need to operate as a collective.”

On the other side of coin, Marianthi Tatari, UNStudio brought us their practice’s work on the Netherlands’ Brainport Smart District that aims at becoming the smartest neighborhood in the world. She stated that it’s high time for the built environment to catch up with technology - our only tool helping to plan for the uncertainty of the future. She makes the point that “with a productive landscape, we can create a local economy” as well as “the most important part is the human approach and care for the quality of life for every resident,” both being cornerstones for their smart city project taking the data ownership of its residents seriously.

MAD Architects principal partner Yosuke Hayano opened day two of the conference with a presentation exploring the questions “How can we trigger an emotional connection to architecture? How can we make architecture to be urban space so that people feel it is built for them?” Through their design, MAD Architects seek to make a journey for people to meet nature in another way. They care about how the future of the city can be better pressed for the people, from young to old, to come, live and enjoy the space together.

Hailing from the south side of Chicago, USA, Sweetwater Foundation founder — and 2019 MacArthur Fellow — Emmanuel Pratt showcased all the ways in which they work with marginalized communities, drivers of the regeneration that has taken place: “Every community has seeds of their own regeneration, right there,” and “regenerating is an active process, not a passing one like sustainability. Giving people a chance to participate as well as ownership of that regeneration that translates into more than just physical spaces, but regenerates the culture.”

Last, but not least, Christopher Cabaldon, mayor of West Sacramento, has seen his city regenerate itself out of its industrial past over the last two decades into a vibrant, culture filled city in northern California. “If you want to use the city to change the minds of the people, then what is the point? We have to be ready for the city to shape us, not the other way around.” Cabaldon offered some different points of view on how to approach managing citizens opinions of urban planning in ways that embody what reSITE stands for - pushing the boundaries and testing our convictions on city making through discussion.

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September 10, 2019  |  permalink

CoMotion Podcasts: Tortoise’s Dmitry Shevelenko & Seattle DOT’s Benjie de la Peña

The latest episodes of the CoMotion Mobility Podcast feature Benjamin de la Peña — chief of innovation and strategy for Seattle’s Department of Transportation — discussing his plans(above) for building a few software platform to manage all forms of urban mobility, and Tortoise co-founder and president Dmitry Shevelenko (below) explaining the promise of “micro-autonomy,” i.e. autonomous scooters and whatever comes next. Tune in.

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August 29, 2019  |  permalink

ThinkTransit Keynote Recap


(Back in April, the Trapeze Group invited me to deliver the opening keynote at their annual ThinkTransit conference. Given the opportunity to address public transportation officials from across the U.S. and Canada, I didn’t hold back. A recap of my talk appears below.)


On Monday’s opening keynote, Greg Lindsay presented the transit industry with a critical challenge – how to become the core of tomorrow’s multi-modal transport ecosystem. Guiding ThinkTransit 2019 participants through the increasingly complex landscape of multiple, competing services, Greg outlined the issues confronting public transit and identified opportunities for transit agencies to define mobility’s future.

Declining ridership, rising car sales, and the emergence of new ride-hailing and bike-sharing enterprises are changing the industry’s outlook on service provision. Greg’s keynote focused on three themes affecting how transit agencies are moving forward – Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), micromobility and congestion pricing.

Mobility-as-a-Service: Public Square or Walled Gardens?

The traditional thinking on MaaS is to create an integrated system where public transit works with private vendors to deliver seamlessness for the passenger journey. An example is Portland’s TriMet app, which combines Lyft (ride-share), car2go (car-share) and BIKETOWN (bike-share), to offer a first- and last-mile solution. Another is Whim, a subscription service founded by Finnish entrepreneur Sampo Hietanen, which provides mobility options much like an all-you-can-eat data plan for your cellphone.

MaaS is meant to strengthen public-private partnerships and ensure that public transit remains at the forefront of an integrated transport system.

The aggressive market ambitions of transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft, however, are changing the game for public transport as well as the approach to Mobility-as-a-Service. Uber is moving ahead of transit agencies to own the customer relationship and the entire transaction in this shared mobility scheme. Lyft is not far behind.

By adding public transportation, car- and bike-sharing to their apps, TNCs are creating a vertically-integrated ecosystem that incorporates public transit, and not the other way around.

We need open data

How does public transit get back into the game, so to speak? Greg pointed to Open APIs as a possible way forward. Promoting interoperability prevents TNCs from running vertically-integrated walled gardens with little oversight and allows transit agencies to demand open standards so public transit services align with those of mobility providers.

Examples of these are NACTO’s SharedStreets initiative, which creates an open-source database for exchanging street-level geographic information and Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s own Mobility Data Specification (MDS) which tracks scooter and bike movements.

The challenge, however, would be to compel these private mobility providers to share useful information. Greg notes that Uber and Lyft have used the Freedom of Information Act to lock up their granular data from potential competitors.

Micromobility: Friend or Foe to Transit?

The rise of bike-sharing and e-scooters further complicates the emerging mobility landscape. Micromobility has been a hot transportation trend, with the data showing that scooters are being adopted faster than Uber and Lyft.

However, while micromobility steals rides from TNCs, helping to ease congestion, it also threatens to compete with public transit, oddly creating a scenario of ‘monetizing walking’. The acquisitions of JUMP by Uber and Motivate by Lyft also strengthen the TNCs’ push to dominate the industry, compounding the problem for public transit.

The challenge confronting the industry is how to ensure that micromobility complements public transit, instead of eating into its market.

Greg notes, though, that micromobility has its share of problems, which may affect its sustainability. Ridership plummets during cold weather and big names like Lime and Bird are having trouble getting additional financing. The scooters break easily, too, lasting an average of 23 days.

How Will We Pay for It? Congestion Pricing and More

Congestion pricing adds another layer of complexity to mobility’s future.

New York’s congestion pricing initiative promises to be a game-changer if implemented, offering a viable solution to traffic gridlocks in dense urban areas.

Greg focused his talk on the future of our priced roads and how the technology can allow for flexibility to allocate lane space to various transport modes, enabling free access for some and creating fee structures for others.

In laying out what must be done for public transit to move forward, Greg pointed to the paradoxical nature of public support for transit:

In 2016, 71 percent of Angeleno voters passed Measure M, raising $120 billion for transport over 40 years. At the same time, ridership on the LA Metro has dropped 19.7 percent over five years.

In other words, people overwhelmingly support mass transit for others, but not for themselves.

Greg’s underlying message as he ended his keynote: the industry needs to examine how to make transit more appealing and position it to be the backbone of a shared mobility ecosystem.

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August 28, 2019  |  permalink

reSITE 2019: REGENERATE is almost here


reSITE 2019: REGENERATE is only a few weeks away, and as the curator for the second consecutive year, it’s my honor and pleasure to share the program, starring the architect Thomas Heatherwick, Reza Merchant (CEO, The Collective), Ravi Naidoo (Founder, DesignIndaba), Kate Wagner (Founder, McMansion Hell), Bianca Wylie (TechReset Canada), Mayor Inês de Medeiros (Almada, Portugal), Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (West Sacramento, California) and dozens more! 

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About Greg Lindsay

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Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is the director of applied research at NewCities and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot CoMotion.  He is also a partner at FutureMap, a geo-strategic advisory firm based in Singapore, a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.

» More about Greg Lindsay

Articles by Greg Lindsay

Fast Company  |  March 2020

How to design a smart city that’s built on empowerment—not corporate surveillance

URBAN-X  |  December 2019


CityLab  |  December 10, 2018

The State of Play: Connected Mobility in San Francisco, Boston, and Detroit

Harvard Business Review  |  September 24, 2018

Why Companies Are Creating Their Own Coworking Spaces

CityLab  |  July 2018

The State of Play: Connected Mobility + U.S. Cities

Medium  |  May 1, 2017

The Engine Room

Fast Company  |  January 19, 2017

The Collaboration Software That’s Rejuvenating The Young Global Leaders Of Davos

The Guardian  |  January 13, 2017

What If Uber Kills Public Transport Instead of Cars

Backchannel  |  January 4, 2017

The Office of the Future Is…an Office

New Cities Foundation  |  October 2016

Now Arriving: A Connected Mobility Roadmap for Public Transport

Inc.  |  October 2016

Why Every Business Should Start in a Co-Working Space

Popular Mechanics  |  May 11, 2016

Can the World’s Worst Traffic Problem Be Solved?

The New Republic  |  January/February 2016

Hacking The City

Fast Company  |  September 22, 2015

We Spent Two Weeks Wearing Employee Trackers: Here’s What We Learned

Fast Company  |  September 21, 2015

HR Meets Data: How Your Boss Will Monitor You To Create The Quantified Workplace

Inc.  |  March 2015

Which Contacts Should You Keep in Touch With? Let This Software Tell You

Inc.  |  March 2015

5 Global Cities of the Future

Global Solution Networks  |  December 2014

Cities on the Move

Medium  |  November 2014

Engineering Serendipity

New York University  |  October 2014

Sin City vs. SimCity

» See all articles


July 04, 2020

Inoculating the Planet: Cities After COVID-19

July 04, 2020

CoMotion MIAMI Live: Ford’s Mark Kaufman

June 15, 2020

Navigating the Noise: Coming Back to Mobility

June 15, 2020

CoMotion LIVE: Life After Lockdown — Learning From Asia’s All-Delivery Future

» More blog posts