Policy

By Silvia Stuchi Cruz and Sonia Paulino

Cite as: Silvia Stuchi Cruz & Sonia Paulino, The Relationship Between Social Innovation and Active Mobility Public Services, 2020 J. L. & Mob. 60.

Abstract

This article aims to discuss the relationship between social innovation and public services on active mobility. Two active mobility initiatives are considered in the city of São Paulo, and analyzed based on 11 variables that characterize social innovation. Through the mapping of recent Brazilian regulatory frameworks for active mobility and a low-carbon economy, we can propose the following relationship: the more local (municipal) the public policy, the greater its social influence and participation. However, despite the advances indicated by both experiences of active mobility analyzed (highlighting the role of organized civil society), and by the progress in the regulatory framework, until now innovative practices in the local context have been restricted to the treatment of pedestrian spaces. Therefore, there exists a great potential for the continued introduction of innovations in the improvement and scale of public services for pedestrian mobility, following the paradigm of sustainable urban mobility, and based on social participation.

Introduction

Throughout the world’s megacities, despite discussions and attestations about urban mobility’s impacts on the environment and health, dependence on fossil fuels continues to grow; this represents a substantial risk for the future of urban transport, as well as in terms of energy security. In the case of megacities in developing countries, the central issue to be addressed is sustainable urban expansion, which requires measures to manage metropolitan development. 1 1. See Pengjun Zhao, Sustainable Urban Expansion and Transportation in a Growing Megacity: Consequences of Urban Sprawl for Mobility on the Urban Fringe of Beijing, 34 Habitat Int’l 236 (2010). × One important step in this direction is the promotion of sustainable transport. Rapid and exponential population growth, coupled with the lack of urban planning, has had negative consequences, particularly in urban mobility. In the context of megacities, it is becoming ever more necessary to possess a transport system developed with user accessibility and connecting active mobility to collective public transport.

This article proposes the incorporation of a broader innovation approach for exploring the potential of innovation in services that address sustainable urban mobility issues, including strategies such as social inclusion, and social innovation itself. This topic is a major driver of innovation and confirms that the impacts, far beyond the traditional concept of competitiveness, also include environmental and social problems. 2 2. See, e.g., Metka Stare, Seizing the Opportunities of Service Innovation: Policy Brief No. 7, in Inclusive Innovation and Service Innovation, 55 (Werner Wobbe, ed., Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2013); Silvia S. Cruz, Sonia Paulino & Delhi Paiva, Verification of Outcomes from Carbon Market Under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Projects in Landfills, 142 J. of Cleaner Production 145 (2017). × It is a complex, multiform, systemic and often conflicting issue, 3 3. See Faridah Djellal & Faïz Gallouj, How Public–Private Innovation Networks in Services (ServPPINs) Differ from Other Innovation Networks: What Lessons for Theory?, in Public–Private Innovation Networks in Services 21-58 (Faïz Gallouj, Luis Rubalcaba and Paul Windrum eds., 2013).   × which requires different actors interacting at different levels of governance to meet the needs of society. 4 4. See Anita Kon, A Inovação nos Serviços como Instrumento para a Inovação Social: uma Visão Integrativa, 38 Braz. J. Pol. Econ. 584 (2018). ×

Authors have shown that the challenges are even greater within contexts of developing and emerging economies, in a situation substantially marked by a bias towards technological innovation. 5 5. Stare, supra note 2; see Silvia Cruz, Faiz Gallouj & Sonia Paulino, Innovation in Brazilian Landfills: a ServPPIN Perspective, 2014 Econ. and Pol’y of Energy and Env’t 79 (2015). × In emerging economies, public services demand innovation not only in terms of efficiency gains, but also in terms of transparency and responsiveness to their users’ needs. 6 6. See Cruz, supra note 2; see e.g. Piere Mohnen & Metka Stare, The Notion of Inclusive Innovation: Policy Brief No. 15, in Inclusive Innovation and Service Innovation, 11 (Werner Wobbe, ed., Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2013); Silvia Cruz & Sonia Paulino, Analysis of Access to Clean Development Mechanism Landfill Projects Through a Multi-Agent Model, 4 Int’l J. of Envtl. Sci. and Dev. 268 (2013).  ×

Considering the product (service) as a social construct that involves the views of different actors, 7 7. Jean Gadrey, The Characterization of Goods and Services: An Alternative Approach, Rev. of Income and Wealth, Ser. 46 No. 3, Sept. 2000, at 369, 369-87.  × and based on the definition of innovation in services understood as a multi-agent activity 8 8. Pierre Labarthe, Faïz Gallouj & Faridah Djellal, Effects of Institutions on the Integration of End-Users’ Knowledge in ServPPINs: Lessons from two case studies in agro-environmental knowledge-intensive services, in Public–Private Innovation Networks in Services 303, 303-325 (Faïz Gallouj, Luis Rubalcaba & Paul Windrum eds., Edward Elgar Publ’g 2013). × stakeholder participation becomes essential. 9 9. David Banister, The Sustainable Mobility Paradigm, 15 Transport Pol’y, 73 (2008). × In this manner, it is emphasized the collective preferences of citizenship, with a broader view of the citizen as not only a recipient of public services, but also acting in the production, control and planning of these activities. The authors emphasize that an active dialogue is necessary to negotiate and mediate services according to the different preferences of citizens.

As different types of actors are involved in the innovation process, provision of services in a multi-agent configuration allows the development of complementarities and synergies among the different agents. Each possesses their own specific objectives and competences. 10 10. See Paul Windrum & Manuel García-Goñi, A Neo-Schumpeterian Model of Health Services Innovation, 37 Res. Pol’y 649, 649-72 (2008);Paul Windrum et al., The Co-Creation of Multi-Agent Social Innovations, 19 Eur. J. of Innovation Mgmt, 150, 150-66 (2016); Benoît Desmarchelier, Faridah Djellal & Faïz Gallouj, Services in Innovation Networks and Innovation Networks in Services: From traditional innovation networks (TINs) to public service innovation networks (PSINs) (2018). ×

One of the factors that promote interest in analyzing innovation in public services is the recognition of the important role played by public sector organizations in the innovation process. Public organizations, therefore, are no longer restricted to the role of a mere supporter of the innovation process.  The public sector is also a system of services in which innovations may improve the performance of these activities, and ultimately, may affect citizen’s quality of life. Simultaneously, a number of other reasons distinguish the public sector, since it influences the daily lives of citizens in many ways.

The multi-faceted and heterogeneous nature of the public sector is in part a result of the multiple interfaces which characterize public organizations: 1) an interface with the private sector; 2) an interface between the public sector and citizens; and 3) internal interfaces within the public sector (between government levels and between different areas of activity). 11 11. Markus M. Bugge et al., The public Sector in Innovation Systems, Project – Measuring Public Innovation in the Nordic Countries: Toward a common statistical approach (2010). × We emphasize that although there is a range of ways to produce a public service, the public sector, as responsible for the provision of said service, must ensure that this production occurs in an appropriate manner; the State should assume the regulatory, inspection, incentive and planning role.

In the field of service studies, there are advances in understanding the specificities of public services and the socioeconomic contexts in which they exist. The literature on innovation in public services shows the most evident inclusion of non-technological forms of innovation. 12 12. Windrum et al., supra note 12; Desmarchelier et al., supra note 13. × Service innovation often dialogues with social innovation, which has been used as a denominator for the different types of collective actions and social transformations that would lead us from a “top down” economy and society to a more participatory and “bottom up” society. 13 13. See Gordon Shockley, The International Handbook on Social Innovation: Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research, 55 J. Reg’l Sci. 152, 152-53 (2015) (reviewing The International Handbook on Social Innovation: Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research (Frank Moulaert et al. eds., 2013)). ×

A brief definition of social innovation points to innovations defined by their (social) goals to improve the wellbeing of individuals or communities. The occurrence of social innovation requires the participation of third sector organizations, groups or social movements ensuring that society is the beneficiary by appropriating the results of innovation. Increased involvement of the third sector, “and nonprofit organizations in general – is also recognized as a ‘social’ innovation per se.” 14 14. Flavia Martinelli, Social Innovation or Social Exclusion? Innovating Social Services in the Context of a Retrenching Welfare State, in Challenge Social Innovation 169, 173 (Hans-Werner Franz, Josef Hochgerner, & Jürgen Howald eds., 2012). ×

Social innovation differs from traditional innovation not only in its nature, but also in its modes of production and in its stakeholders. Another fundamental characteristic of social innovation is its local, or popular, nature, the essential participation of users in its emergence and implementation, and its relation with sustainability (Figure 1). 15 15. See Faridah Djellal, Faïz Gallouj & Ian Miles, Two Decades of Research on Innovation in Services: Which Place for Public Services?, Structural Change and Econ. Dynamics, Dec. 2013, at 99, 102; see Kon, supra note 4, at 603. ×

Figure 1: Characteristics of social innovation and its relations with sustainability.

Regarding urban mobility, we identify a set of services and modes of transport of both people and cargo, as well as the interactions between these displacements and the urban environment. In other words, the term ‘urban mobility’ has overlapped the term ‘transport’, as the broadest definition, encompassing, in addition to transport systems, the access and provision of goods and services in the city. 16 16. Alexandre de Ávila Gomide & Ernesto Pereira Galindo, A Mobilidade Urbana: Uma Agenda Inconclusa ou o Retorno Daquilo Que Não Foi, 27 Estudos Avançados, no. 79, 2013, at 27, 33; Adriana Silva Barbosa, Mobilidade Urbana Para Pessoas Com Deficiência No Brasil: Um Estudo Em Blogs, 8 Revista Brasileira de Gestão Urbana 142, 143 (2016). ×

We can define active transport as any form of human transport, such as walking, cycling, wheelchairs, use of crutches; in short, all the movements made autonomously by citizens, even with the use of auxiliary devices. 17 17. See Ministério das Cidades, Planmob: Caderno De Referência Para Elaboração De Plano De Mobilidade Urbana 88 (2017), https://iema-site-staging.s3.amazonaws.com/planmob.pdf. × Therefore, it plays an important role in the urban context to promote social inclusion and equitable urban development; i.e. it is an important part of sustainable urban mobility.

Despite the importance of walking and cycling in Brazil and other developing countries, infrastructure and policies related to non-motorized transport have suffered neglect in the formulation of public policies. Decision makers still consider active mobility as a sign of delay and inconsistent with their “goals and aspirations for economic growth and competitiveness.” 18 18. Dorina Pojani & Dominic Stead, Policy Design for Sustainable Urban Transport in the Global South, 1 Policy Design and Practice 90, 94 (2018). ×

Services based on the integration of active mobility and public transport depend on certain conditions involving the travel environment for pedestrians and cyclists, which can be better understood from (a) a public service innovation approach in a multi-agent configuration; and (b) by the concept of social innovation, since the cases studied in this article suggest innovations defined by social objectives to improve the community’s wellbeing, based on the improvement of public services for active mobility, and occur with the participation of third sector organizations.

The recent regulatory framework prioritizes active mobility in the city of São Paulo, in for example, Decree no. 56,834/2015, Law no. 16,547/2016, Law no. 16,673/2017, Decree no. 57,889/2017, Law no. 16,885/2018, and Decree no. 58,845/2019. In order to achieve this, civil society has been playing a relevant role, exercising political influence and activism. In a formal instance of participation, within the Municipal Council of Transport and Traffic, the respective thematic chambers of bicycle and pedestrian mobility it helped create in February and December 2015 stand as an example of this. Thematic chambers are presented in Decree nº 54.058 / 2013, Art.10: “Thematic or regional commissions may be constituted aiming to improve the work of the Municipal Council of Transport and Traffic, composed with the attributions defined by each chamber Internal Regulation”. In general, the aim of this space is to promote social participation through dialogue between citizens and representatives of the municipal government. The meetings between chamber members and city hall technicians occur monthly, bimonthly with the municipal secretary of Transport, and every six months with the city mayor. There are no specific regulations for the composition of members, agendas, as well as formats of meetings. Each thematic chamber, based on the decision of its members, jointly decides its operation and topics to be addressed.

However, when analyzing the legal framework, we note that there is a chasm between laws and practices; in theory, the priority to pedestrian mobility is always considered (in the laws of active mobility and in the low carbon economy as well). However, the practical results are negligible of qualifying the environment and infrastructure for pedestrian commuting and connectivity with collective public transport.

Given the above, this article aims to discuss the relationship between social innovation and active mobility public services, based on two cases – Reduced Speed Zones and Complete Streets – in the city of São Paulo. These 11 analysis variables are used: associations/collectives /activist groups; actions to highlight social needs; third sector interaction with the public sector; expertise in identifying the intervention area; establishment of an evidence base on the effectiveness of techniques used in the service; an evidence base created by the public sector; support from public policies for the diffusion of innovation; government bodies that support the provision of services; solutions to respond to social needs; improvement of environmental quality; and social impact.

We propose that the experiences studied may exist as opportunities for social innovation connected to the introduction of public services aimed at pedestrian mobility. After the introduction, Section 2 shows the methodology. Section 3 presents the results highlighting the regulatory framework on active mobility and low carbon economy, at the federal, state and municipal levels; and the opportunities for social innovation in relation to the introduction of public services for active mobility. In Section 4, the conclusion.

2. Methodology

Initially, we mapped the federal, state and municipal regulatory framework on active mobility and the low carbon economy (focusing on aspects related to transport). For the empirical context, the research methodology uses the geographic-temporal approach focused on São Paulo and the period considered for data collection is 2015 until September 2019. In 2015, the São Paulo Urban Mobility Plan was instituted, which established the characteristics of the pedestrian circulation network, necessary infrastructure, specific targets for pedestrians and for accessibility, and integration with other modes of transport.

The concentration of initiatives studied in the São Paulo is justified, as it is one of Brazil’s megacities, with great challenges for urban mobility; and as occurs in other aspects, São Paulo was also a pioneer in the use of tactical urbanism in the country, and later, the technique was disseminated to some other cities. Tactical urbanism uses low-cost temporary materials in order to test places for different uses; subsequently, these locations may go on to receive permanent intervention. These short-term and low cost interventions aim to promote grassroots restructuring, in a participatory approach, towards the re-appropriation of urban spaces by their own users, in line also with the broad view of social innovation, which extends potential forms of participation to specific actors. Finally, it is one of the cities selected for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Initiative (Bloomberg Initiative), which aims to reduce injuries and fatalities resulting from collisions throughout the world. The development of Reduced Speed Zones and Complete Streets are part of the program. The Bloomberg program was renewed for the 2020-2025 period and São Paulo continues to be one of the cities contemplated by the initiative.

The selection of active mobility cases takes into account the following criteria: implemented in the city of São Paulo; in areas of high pedestrian circulation; connection with collective public transport; and the application of tactical urbanism techniques (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Selected cases.

From the criteria adopted, we selected the following cases: a Reduced Speed Zone (São Miguel Paulista and Santana); and a Complete Street (Joel Carlos Borges) (Table 1).

Table 1: Selected cases.

The secondary data sources used are the CET database of Reduced Speed Zones and the Life Protection program; diagnoses and reports of Impact Evaluation Studies and reports. 19 19. See Cidade Ativa, Diagnóstico Áreas 40: São Miguel Paulista, https://cidadeativa.org/iniciativa/leituras-urbanas/area-40-sao-miguel-paulista/ (last visited Oct. 4, 2020); Fundação Getúlio Vargas [FGV], Relatório de desenho de pesquisa para avaliação de impacto do Projeto de Requalificação Urbana e Segurança Viária de São Miguel Paulista na poluição do ar e na saúde (2017); Fundação Getúlio Vargas [FGV], Relatório de linha de base da avaliação de impacto do projeto de requalificação urbana e segurança viária de São Miguel Paulista (2017); Rafaela Marques, Desenho Urbano e Segurança Viária: requalificação de áreas de baixa velocidade em São Miguel Paulista, Instituto de Políticas de Transporte & Desenvolvimento [ITDP] (Feb. 15, 2016), https://itdpbrasil.org/area40saomiguelpaulista; ITDP et al., Intervenção urbana temporária (Re)pensando a rua em Santana Relatório de Atividade (2018), https://itdpbrasil.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/200401-ITDP-relatorio-santana.pdf; Laboratório de Mobilidade Sustentável [LABMOB] et al., Estudo de Impacto e Avaliação de Rua Completa (2018), https://www.labmob.org/avaliacao-de-rua-completa. × Essentially, the reports on interventions provide information about workshops, engagement with stakeholders, post-intervention impact evaluations, intervention design, and materials used (in-event, temporary and permanent actions). For the primary data collection, eight agents completed structured forms: representatives of civil society, startups, universities participating in impact evaluation diagnostics, and the public sector (Secretariat of Urban Mobility).

Finally, we used 11 variables to characterize the social innovation, in the analysis of social innovation opportunities linked to public services for pedestrian mobility (Figure 3):

Figure. 3: Analysis variables

For each variable, it is our intention to identify the following:

  1. The protagonism of civil society, related to the cases studied.
  2. Methods, tactics and tools used to gather information from the communities involved.
  3. The means of interaction with the public sector.
  4. Forms of participation in the elaboration of processes and procedures.
  5. Participatory methodologies for disclosing and validating techniques.
  6. Methodologies created by the public sector for the disclosure and validation of said techniques.
  7. Public policies that are related to the cases’ studied contexts and that, in part, have originated because of the context.
  8. Public bodies related to the projects, highlighting their interdisciplinarity and intersectionality.
  9. Local solutions, aimed at the population’s wellbeing, resulting from the joint process of public sector interaction and civil society participation.
  10. Aspects related to air and noise pollution.
  11. Developments achieved, measured by research methods and the impact evaluation.

3. Results

The section is organized as (3.1) the insertion of active mobility into the regulatory framework, highlighting and analyzing the recent legislation evolution. Then (3.2) we present the cases, identifying opportunities for social innovation in services for active mobility, linking a timeline for the initiatives with the regulatory framework.

3.1 Active mobility in the regulatory framework

The regulatory framework for climate change is related to urban mobility, since, according to the emissions inventory of the State of São Paulo, 20 20. Companhia Ambiental do Estado de São Paulo [CESTESB], Emissões no Setor de Energia: Subsetor de Transportes (2014), https://cetesb.sp.gov.br/ inventario-gee-sp/wp-content/uploads/sites/34/2014/09/emissoes-no-setor-de-energia_Transportes.pdf. × the transport sub sector was responsible for 48% of emissions in the energy sector and 27% of the State’s total emissions in 2005. The road transport is responsible for almost 90% of emissions. 21 21. Id. × Therefore, analyzing how active mobility is addressed in climate change policies is essential to achieve both environmental and emission reduction, and social, economic, land use and occupation goals. Mapping the recent regulatory framework then, which addresses active and low-carbon mobility, at the federal, state and municipal levels, the scenario appears in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Recent regulatory framework: active mobility and low-carbon – federal, state and municipal levels.

At the federal level, with the National Policy on Climate Change (NPCC), in the Brazilian Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), the country is committed to promoting efficiency measures, and improvements in transport infrastructure and collective public transport in urban areas. In the “Initial Proposal for Implementing the Nationally Determined Contribution of Brazil (NDC)” 22 22. Fórum Brasileiro de Mudança do Clima [FBMC], Proposta Inicial de Implementação da Contribuição Nacionalmente Determinada do Brasil 18-22 (2018), https://www.ccacoalition.org/en/resources/brazils-ndc-initial-implementation-proposal. × the contributions and measures proposed for active mobility to exercise its potential to mitigate CO2 emissions are timid and insufficient, lacking concrete guidelines and actions.

The National Urban Mobility Policy (NPUM) (Law no. 12,187/12), 23 23. Lei No. 12.587, de 3 de Janeiro de 2012, Diário Oficial da União [D.O.U.] de 1.4.2012. × established in 2012, states that all municipalities of more than 20 thousand inhabitants must present a specific urban mobility plan (Decree 56.834/16), 24 24. Decreto No. 56.834 de 24 de Fevereiro de 2016, Diário Oficial da Cidade de São Paulo de 25.2.2016. × and must prioritize non-motorized means of transport and collective public transport. This has several beneficial consequences for the city, as it implies democratization of the use of public space on the roads, gradually reduces the use of the cars, and causes a reduction in the emission of pollutants and an improvement in quality of life, minimizing the respiratory problems caused by pollution and sedentary lifestyles.

At the State level, in 2009, the State Policy on Climate Change (SPCC) was established (Law no. 13,798/2009), 25 25. Lei No. 13.798, de 9 de Novembro de 2009, Diário Oficial do Estado de São Paulo [D.O.E.S.P.] de 9.11.2009. × which aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20% in 2020, in relation to total emissions in the state of São Paulo in 2005. This implies consistent strategies, especially in transport, a sector in which the most significant reductions are possible; in this manner public transport and non-motorized transport are considered essential to achieve greater efficiency and sustainability in urban mobility. 26 26. See Carlos Henrique Ribeiro de Carvalho, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada, Mobilidade Urbana Sustentável: Conceitos, Tendências e Reflexões (2016); see also Antônio Nélson Rodrigues da Silva, Marcela da Silva Costa & Márcia Helena Macedo, Multiple views of sustainable urban mobility: The case of Brazil, 15 Transp. Pol’y 350 (2008). × The Metropolitan Mobility State Policy – MMSP (Law no. 16.956/2019) 27 27. Lei No. 16.956, de 21 de Março de 2019, Diário Oficial do Estado de São Paulo [D.O.E.S.P.] de 21.3.2019. × is also identified, in the same line, highlighting the priority of collective public transport modes over individual, the priority of non-polluting public transport modes over pollutants, and incentives for scientific-technological development in order to mitigate the environmental and socioeconomic costs of people and cargo displacements. Thus, it encourages entrepreneurship and startups that produce innovative urban mobility solutions for citizens.

At the municipal level, the São Paulo Climate Change Law (Law 14.933 / 2009) 28 28. Lei No. 14.933, de 5 de Junho de 2009, Diário Oficial do Município de São Paulo [D.O.M.S.P.] de 5.6.2009. × also outlines strategies to reduce emissions through the transport sector; however, these measures are restricted to the progressive reduction of fossil fuels within the bus fleet. The municipal law follows some guidelines, such as that for land use, as an infrastructure for transport supports and encourages active mobility, but with a focus on mobility by bicycle, without addressing pedestrian mobility.

Since 2015, organizations have begun to emerge that work on pedestrian mobility in the city of São Paulo, also helping to promote experiences/interventions focused on pedestrians. 29 29. como anda o movimento pela mobilidade a pé no brasil: agentes, oportunidades e gargalos (Rafaella Basile et al. eds., 2017). × In 2015, the Urban Mobility Plan (UMP) was instituted through Decree No. 56.834 / 2015, in response to the NPUM request, bringing specific guidelines for pedestrian mobility, in response to the demand from civil society, the Active Mobility Integration policy and the Pedestrian Circulation System. These suggest characteristics of the pedestrian displacement network, the infrastructure required and the specific goals for pedestrians and accessibility.

The Municipal Council of Transport and Traffic of São Paulo in 2015 created thematic chambers of cycling and pedestrian mobility, in a bottom-up process, which emerged out of civil society. In June 2017, also featuring the active participation of civil society, the Pedestrian Statute of the city of São Paulo was approved with the main objectives of consolidating the concept of a pedestrian mobility network and of determining the sources of funds for the infrastructure required for walking, such as sidewalks, boardwalks and crossings. 30 30. Lei No. 16.673, de 13 de Junho de 2017, Diário Oficial do Município de São Paulo [D.O.M.S.P.] de 13.6.2017. × However, despite the sanction, to date (May 2020) the Statute has not been regulated by City Hall, preventing in practice its application within the law.

In 2019, Decree no. 58.611/2019 was published, which consolidates criteria for the standardization of sidewalks in São Paulo. Further, in the same year, the Municipality of São Paulo, through Municipal Decree no. 58.717/2019, 31 31. Decreto No. 58.717, de 17 de Abril de 2019, Diário Oficial do Município de São Paulo [D.O.M.S.P.] de 17.5.2019. × with support from the World Bank, launched the Road Safety Plan of São Paulo Municipality, developed and elaborated with civil society organizations’ involvement: in particular, the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Traffic Safety and WRI Brazil.

When analyzing the regulatory framework, at different government levels, it is clear that the priority for active mobility is guaranteed; however, there are few tools to provide practical results in the qualification of active mobility networks connected to collective public transport. Finally, regarding the role of civil society, it is possible to establish a relationship that the more local (municipal) the public policy, the greater its social influence and participation, opening up opportunities for social innovation of active mobility, as presented in the following topic.

3.2. Social innovation opportunities in active mobility services

In order to improve the conditions for integration with public transport, the initiatives studied have sought to increase the safety and comfort of pedestrians, by reducing speed, and redesigning and expanding sidewalks. The initiatives applied tactical urbanism techniques (temporary interventions) to test the sites for different uses and later, to receive permanent intervention. Table 2 summarizes the interventions studied, based on tactical urbanism and social innovation variables relationed to the introduction of public services for pedestrian mobility.

Table 2: Social innovation variables linked to public services for pedestrian mobility.

Figure 5 shows the integration of the active mobility initiatives studied in the regulatory framework mapped for urban mobility and climate change in Figure 4. The regulatory framework’s evolution is relatively recent; we have identified developments from civil society performances, establishing opportunities for social innovation relationed to innovation in pedestrian mobility public services (service characteristics).

Figure 5: Timeline for initiatives and regulatory frameworks.

The innovation, in the local context, in services provided by City Hall, occurred in the treatment of pedestrian spaces: sidewalks; crossings; accessibility; horizontal and vertical signaling in public spaces; traffic light systems suitable for non-motorized transport; and traffic moderation. In order to improve the conditions for integration with collective public transport, the initiatives studied sought to increase safety and comfort for pedestrians by reducing speed, and reforming and expanding sidewalks. Explaining the link between social innovation and innovation in public services, the protagonism of civil society is highlighted by conducting audits and impact evaluations; supervising public bodies; working together to develop the temporary intervention project; analyzing, along with municipal bodies, those sites that could receive temporary intervention; and holding workshops with the community.

Advances in the regulatory framework explicitly point to a contribution toward sustainable development; equity in citizens’ access to collective public transport; equity in the use of public spaces for circulation, roads and public areas; priority of non-motorized modes of transport over motorized and of collective public transport services over individual motorized transport; mitigation of environmental, social and economic costs of displacement of people and cargo in the city; encouragement of scientific and technological development; and the use of renewable and less polluting energy, among others.

By analyzing the recent Brazilian regulatory framework for active mobility and low-carbon economy, it is possible to establish the relationship that the more local (municipal) the public policy, the greater its social influence and participation. These have concrete examples, such as the municipal Urban Mobility Plan, the Pedestrian Statute, creation of the walking mobility thematic chamber at the municipal council, as well as the active mobility initiatives studied, developed through cooperation agreements with City Hall.

However, despite the advances indicated by both experiences of active mobility analyzed, highlighting the role of civil society organizations, and by the progress in the regulatory framework, until the present day innovative practices in the local context have been restricted to treatment of infrastructure for pedestrians. Therefore, there are great potentials for the continued introduction of innovations for the improvement and scale gain of public services for pedestrian mobility, in line with the paradigm of sustainable urban mobility and based on social participation.

4. Conclusion

Through public services, the social innovations in the Reduced Speed Zones and Complete Streets manifest as a requalification and availability of urban spaces that motor vehicles have previously occupied densely, now to be used by pedestrians. The social innovations introduced are associated with public services previously unavailable in the local context: the improvement of pedestrian spaces, applying temporary interventions for road requalification with a transformation of streets.

The improvement of urban mobility, which responds to the needs evidenced by society, requires services that result in new ways of people occupying the city road space. It is about not only expanding, but also creating and requalifying services for active mobility. New, improved or modified services that result from social innovation, unlike conventional market innovation, are geared toward generating solutions for society rather than the private individual.

The Reduced Speed Zone and Complete Street cases illustrate social innovation opportunities anchored in public services for active mobility in São Paulo. It shows the relevance of paying attention to forms of non-technological innovation, and that the deliberate structuring of innovation networks does not necessarily support innovative processes and results verified in the local context.

The development, introduction and support of social innovation was supported by the role of third sector organizations, with the establishment of agreements with the city government. Additionally, it requires knowledge and competencies from public and third sector organizations, the use of material factors (i.e. construction of roundabouts, temporary and permanent expansion of sidewalks, narrowing of traffic/moving lane, reduction of corner radii, accessibility ramps), and interactions between key stakeholders.

Through the work of third sector organizations, we also highlight the role of volunteers and collectives in the creation and introduction of solutions for active mobility, which meet social needs based on the inclusion of pedestrians as a priority in the use of urban road space. The organizations draw attention to the interests of the individual citizen and use their experience to interact with the public service provider (City Hall) in the identification of areas for intervention and in the establishment of evidence bases on the effectiveness of the techniques used for the requalification of the road space. They also assist in the definition of forms and characteristics of social innovation (service characteristics), that represent solutions to social needs presented to the public sector (service provider).

The public sector may create a window of opportunity for the promotion of innovations, through public policies, and introduces services for the requalification and maintenance of pedestrian urban space. This approach, focused on the relationship between social innovation and innovation in services, therefore permits a better understanding of innovation processes and results.

This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior – Brasil (CAPES) – Finance Code 001

Earlier this month, Connecticut’s Governor Ned Lamont announced and released the details of his plan to upgrade and “transform” the state’s transportation system. The plan, Connecticut 2030 (CT2030), allocates $21 billion primarily to improving Connecticut’s highways, airports, mass transit, and ports and is pitched as “what Connecticut families and employers deserve.” While that is a wonderful goal, as usual, I have questions. However, I want to go over the basics of CT2030 before getting into those questions.

“CT2030 will result in nothing short of a transformation of the economy and quality of life in Connecticut. When residents are able to travel to and from at drastically quicker rates, families can thrive, employees are more productive, and businesses are able to grow and provide more opportunities.”

Impact of CT2030

Overall, the main point of CT2030 seems to be enabling
people and business to move more quickly and more efficiently. Gov. Lamont aims
to achieve CT2030’s goals by addressing four main focus areas mentioned above:
highways, airports, mass transit, and ports.

Highways. The main thrust of CT2030’s highway plans appear to center significantly on I-84, I-91, and I-95. This makes sense, seeing as to it that multiple spots along each of these highways rank within the top 100 worst traffic bottlenecks in the United States. These three highways will be the focus of projects such as lane additions, exit enhancements, bridge improvements, and “user fee” installations (i.e. tolls).

Mass Transit. This portion of CT2030 focuses on public transportation in the forms of railways and buses. Again, the plans here are “all about less time commuting and more time with your family.” Railways would look forward to projects for straightening and upgrading tracks, replacing aging bridges, installing new signaling systems, and adding new cars and locomotives. Buses, in a much smaller endeavor, would receive upgrades providing consistency for users across the state’s bus system. These upgrades include fitting all bus stops with shelters for protection against bad weather and signs with information on operating routes, as well as providing real-time information updates via text message or phone app.

Airports. This seems to be one of the most underdeveloped aspects of CT2030. The two enhancements to Connecticut’s aviation sector are (1) connecting the Bradley International Airport to surrounding areas via direct railway lines, and (2) the development of a “fully functioning regional airport in South-Central CT.”

Ports. Connecticut’s four major ports and the associated maritime industry annually generate an estimated $11.2 billion. The projects for these ports are unique to each location. They include dredging to allow for larger ships and freighters to pass through more frequently and the implementation of a high-speed ferry system to provide services for commuters as well as tourists.

Now for some questions:

What about induced
demand?
Congestion can’t always be solved by simply adding
more lanes
, no matter how logical that solution would seem. And it does
make sense: remove the congestion by removing the bottleneck. However, this
reasonable answer runs full speed into the issue of induced demand. The phenomenon
of induced demand
can be stated simply: “When you provide more of
something, or provide it for a cheaper price, people are more likely to use
it.” This means that increasing capacity does little to relieve busy roadways when
traffic acts as a “gas”
and the “volume expands to fill the capacity.”

“Widening a highway is no more a solution to traffic than buying bigger pants is a solution to overeating.”

David Andrew, Hartford Courant

While some experts
argue
that induced capacity doesn’t cause as much strife as people claim,
the potential is still something that should be taken into account. If CT2030
centers on reducing highway commute time through widening projects, there needs
to be at least some discussion addressing the possible negative impacts, such
as an increase in urban sprawl, carbon
emissions, and more
.

What about pedestrian infrastructure? While CT2030 allocates approximately $21 billion to its various projects, only an estimated $52 million would be dedicated to the Community Connectivity Program (CCP), a “grant program for municipalities to make improvements to sidewalks” that “helps local communities make necessary improvements for pedestrians.” If my math is even close to correct – honestly, no promises – this amounts to less than half of a percent.

Admittedly, I’m using the term “pedestrian infrastructure” broadly
to include
traffic calming and bicycle infrastructure in addition to
traditional pedestrian infrastructure while CT2030 narrows the scope of CCP
down to sidewalk projects. However, this doesn’t defeat the question of why so
little focus is dedicated to pedestrian infrastructure.

There are plenty of unanswered questions and unaddressed
concerns still surrounding CT2030. One major question mark is whether it will
actually be implemented. This is thanks to Gov. Lamont and state legislators
starring in leading roles opposite one another in a multi-season
drama
. With this in mind, it will be interesting to see how and if
Connecticut moves forward with CT2030 or any rival transportation plans.

A write-up of the afternoon sessions is now available here!

March 15, 2019 – 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Room 1225, Jeffries Hall, University of Michigan Law School 

In the case of automated driving, how and to whom should the rules of the road apply? This deep-dive conference brings together experts from government, industry, civil society, and academia to answer these questions through focused and robust discussion.

To ensure that discussions are accessible to all participants, the day will begin with an introduction to the legal and technical aspects of automated driving. It will then continue with a more general discussion of what it means to follow the law. After a lunch keynote by Rep. Debbie Dingell, expert panels will consider how traffic law should apply to automated driving and the legal person (if any) who should be responsible for traffic law violations. The day will conclude with audience discussion and a reception for all attendees.

(Re)Writing the Rules of the Road is presented by the University of Michigan Law School’s Law and Mobility Program, and co-sponsored by the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Schedule of Events

Morning Sessions 

  • 10:00 am – 10:45 am

Connected and Automated Vehicles – A Technical and Legal Primer

Prof. Bryant Walker Smith

Professor Bryant Walker Smith will provide a technical and legal introduction to automated driving and connected driving with an emphasis on the key concepts, terms, and laws that will be foundational to the afternoon sessions. This session is intended for all participants, including those with complementary expertise and those who are new to automated driving. Questions are welcome. 

  • 10:45 am – 11:15 am
Drivers Licenses for Robots? State DMV Approaches to CAV Regulation

Bernard Soriano, Deputy Director for the California DMV and James Fackler, Assistant Administrator for the Customer Services Administration in the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office, discuss their respective state’s approaches to regulating connected and autonomous vehicles.

  • 11:15 am – 12:00 pm
Just What Is the Law? How Does Legal Theory Apply to Automated Vehicles and Other Autonomous Technologies?

Prof. Scott Hershovitz    

Human drivers regularly violate the rules of the road. What does this say about the meaning of law? Professor Scott Hershovitz introduces legal theory and relates it to automated driving and autonomy more generally.                  

Keynote & Lunch

  • 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm
Lunch

Free for all registered attendees!

  • 12:30 pm-1:30 pm

Keynote – Rep. Debbie Dingell

Rep. Dingell shares her insights from both national and local perspectives.  

Afternoon Sessions

(Chatham House Rule)

  • 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Crossing the Double Yellow Line: Should Automated Vehicles Always Follow the Rules of the Road as Written?

Should automated vehicles be designed to strictly follow the rules of the road? How should these vehicles reconcile conflicts between those rules? Are there meaningful differences among exceeding the posted speed limit to keep up with the flow of traffic, crossing a double yellow line to give more room to a bicyclist, and driving through a stop sign at the direction of a police officer? If flexibility and discretion are appropriate, how can they be achieved in law?

A panel of experts will each briefly present their views on these questions, followed by open discussion with other speakers and questions from the audience.

Featured Speakers:

Justice David F. Viviano, Michigan Supreme Court

Emily Frascaroli, Counsel, Ford Motor Company

Jessica Uguccioni, Lead Lawyer, Automated Vehicles Review, Law Commission of England and Wales

  • 3:15 pm – 4:45 pm
Who Gets the Ticket? Who or What is the Legal Driver, and How Should Law Be Enforced Against Them?

Who or what should decide whether an automated vehicle should violate a traffic law? And who or what should be responsible for that violation? Are there meaningful differences among laws about driving behavior, laws about vehicle maintenance, and laws and post-crash responsibilities? How should these laws be enforced? What are the respective roles for local, state, and national authorities?

A panel of experts will each briefly present their views on these questions, followed by open discussion with other speakers and questions from the audience.

Featured Speakers:

Thomas J. Buiteweg, Partner, Hudson Cook, LLP

Kelsey Brunette Fiedler, Ideation Analyst in Mobility Domain

Karlyn D. Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, RAND Corporation

Daniel Hinkle, State Affairs Counsel, American Association for Justice

  • 4:45 pm – 5:30 pm 
 Summary and General Discussion                                     

Participants and attendees close out the day by taking part in wide discussion of all of the day’s panels.

Cite as: Raphael Beauregard-Lacroix, (Re)Writing the Rules of The Road: Reflections from the Journal of Law and Mobility’s 2019 Conference, 2019 J. L. & Mob. 97.

On March 15th, 2019, the Journal of Law and Mobility, part of the University of Michigan’s Law and Mobility Program, presented its inaugural conference, entitled “(Re)Writing the Rules of The Road.” The conference was focused on issues surrounding the relationship between automated vehicles (“AVs”) and the law. In the afternoon, two panels of experts from academia, government, industry, and civil society were brought together to discuss how traffic laws should apply to automated driving and the legal person (if any) who should be responsible for traffic law violations. The afternoon’s events occurred under a modified version of the Chatham House Rule, to allow the participants to speak more freely. In the interest of allowing those who did not attend to still benefit from the day’s discussion, the following document was prepared. This document is a summary of the two panels, and an effort has been made to de-identify the speaker while retaining the information conveyed. 

Panel I: Crossing the Double Yellow Line: Should Automated Vehicles Always Follow the Rules of the Road as Written?

The first panel focused on whether automated vehicles should be designed to strictly follow the rules of the road. Questions included – How should these vehicles reconcile conflicts between those rules? Are there meaningful differences between acts such as exceeding the posted speed limit to keep up with the flow of traffic, crossing a double yellow line to give more room to a bicyclist, or driving through a stop sign at the direction of a police officer? If flexibility and discretion are appropriate, how can this be reflected in law? 

Within the panel, there was an overall agreement that we need both flexibility in making the law, and flexibility in the law itself among the participants. It was agreed that rigidity, both on the side of the technology as well as on the side of norms, would not serve AVs well. The debate was focused over just how much flexibility there should be and how this flexibility can be formulated in the law.

One type of flexibility that already exists is legal standards. One participant emphasized that the law is not the monolith it may seem from the outside – following a single rule, like not crossing a double yellow line, is not the end of an individual’s interaction with the law. There are a host of different laws applying to different situations, and many of these laws are formulated as standards – for example, the standard that a person operating a vehicle drives with “due care and attention.” Such an approach to the law may change the reasoning of a judge when it would come to determining liability for an accident involving an AV. 

When we ask if AVs should always follow the law, our intuitive reaction is of course they should. Yet, some reflection may allow one to conclude that such strict programming might not be realistic. After all, human drivers routinely break the law. Moreover, most of the participants explicitly agreed that as humans, we get to choose to break the law, sometimes in a reasonable way, and we get to benefit from the discretion of law enforcement. 

That, however, does not necessarily translate to the world of AVs, where engineers make decisions about code and where enforcement can be automatized to a high degree, both ex ante and ex post. Moreover, such flexibilities in the law needs to be tailored to the specific social need; speeding is a “freedom” we enjoy with our own, personal legacy cars, and this type of law breaking does not fulfill the same social function as a driver being allowed to get on the sidewalk in order to avoid an accident. 

One participant suggested that in order to reduce frustrating interactions with AVs, and to overall foster greater safety, AVs need the flexibility not to follow the letter of the law in some situations. Looking to the specific example of the shuttles running on the University of Michigan’s North Campus – those vehicles are very strict in their compliance with the law. 32 32. Susan Carney, Mcity Driverless Shuttle launches on U-M’s North Campus, The Michigan Engineer (June 4, 2018), https://news.engin.umich.edu/2018/06/mcity-driverless-shuttle-launches-on-u-ms-north-campus/. × They travel slowly, to the extent that their behavior can annoy human drivers. When similar shuttles from the French company Navya were deployed in Las Vegas, 33 33. Paul Comfort, U.S. cities building on Las Vegas’ success with autonomous buses, Axios (Sept. 14, 2018), https://www.axios.com/us-cities-building-on-las-vegas-success-with-autonomous-buses-ce6b3d43-c5a3-4b39-a47b-2abde77eec4c.html. × there was an accident on the very first run. 34 34. Sean O’Kane, Self-driving shuttle crashed in Las Vegas because manual controls were locked away, The Verge (July 11, 2019, 5:32 PM), https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/11/20690793/self-driving-shuttle-crash-las-vegas-manual-controls-locked-away. × A car backed into the shuttle, and when a normal driver would have gotten out of the way, the shuttle did not.

One answer is that we will know it when we see it; or that solutions will emerge out of usage. However, many industry players do not favor such a risk-taking strategy. Indeed, it was argued that smaller players in the AV industry would not be able to keep up if those with deeper pockets decide to go the risky way. 

Another approach to the question is to ask what kind of goals should we be applying to AVs? A strict abidance to legal rules or mitigating harm? Maximizing safety? There are indications of some form of international consensus 35 35. UN resolution paves way for mass use of driverless cars, UN News (Oct. 10, 2018), https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/10/1022812. × (namely in the form of a UN Resolution) 36 36. UN Economic Commission for Europe, Revised draft resolution on the deployment of highly and fully automated vehicles in road traffic (July, 12, 2018), https://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/doc/2018/wp1/ECE-TRANS-WP.1-2018-4-Rev_2e.pdf × that the goal should not be strict abidance to the law, and that other road users may commit errors, which would then put the AV into a situation of deciding between strict legality and safety or harm. 

In Singapore, the government recently published “Technical Reference 68,” 37 37. Joint Media Release, Land Transport Authority, Enterprise Singapore, Standards Development Organization, & Singapore Standards Council, Singapore Develops Provisional National Standards to Guide Development of Fully Autonomous Vehicles (Jan. 31, 2019), https://www.lta.gov.sg/apps/news/page.aspx?c=2&id=8ea02b69-4505-45ff-8dca-7b094a7954f9. × which sets up a hierarchy of rules, such as safety, traffic flow, and with the general principle of minimizing rule breaking. This example shows that principles can act as a sense-check. That being said, the technical question of how to “code” the flexibility of a standard into AV software was not entirely answered. 

Some participants also reminded the audience that human drivers do not have to “declare their intentions” before breaking the law, while AV software developers would have to. Should they be punished for that in advance? Moreover, non-compliance with the law – such as municipal ordinances on parking – is the daily routine for certain business models such as those who rely on delivery. Yet, there is no widespread condemnation of that, and most of us enjoy having consumer goods delivered at home.

More generally, as one participant asked, if a person can reasonably decide to break the law as a driver, does that mean the developer or programmer of AV software can decide to break the law in a similar way and face liability later? Perhaps the answer is to turn the question around – change the law to better reflect the driving environment so AVs don’t have to be programmed to break it. 

Beyond flexibility, participants discussed how having multiple motor vehicle codes – in effect one per US State – makes toeing the line of the law difficult. One participant highlighted that having the software of an AV validated by one state is big enough a hurdle, and that more than a handful of such validations processes would be completely unreasonable for an AV developer. Having a single standard was identified as a positive step, while some conceded that states also serve the useful purpose of “incubating” various legal formulations and strategies, allowing in due time the federal government to “pick” the best one. 

Panel II: Who Gets the Ticket? Who or What is the Legal Driver, and How Should Law Be Enforced Against Them?

The second panel looked at who or what should decide whether an automated vehicle should violate a traffic law, and who or what should be responsible for that violation. Further questions included – Are there meaningful differences among laws about driving behavior, laws about vehicle maintenance, and laws and post-crash responsibilities? How should these laws be enforced? What are the respective roles for local, state, and national authorities?

The participants discussed several initiatives, both public and private, that aimed at defining, or helping define the notion of driver in the context of AVs. The Uniform Law Commission worked on the “ADP”, or “automated driving provider”, which would replace the human driver as the entity responsible in case of an accident. The latest report from the RAND Corporation highlighted that the ownership model of AVs will be different, as whole fleets will be owned and maintained by OEMs (“original equipment manufacturers”) or other types of businesses and that most likely these fleet operators would be the drivers.

Insurance was also identified as a matter to take into consideration in the shaping up of the notion of AV driver. As of the date of the conference, AVs are only insured outside of state-sponsored guarantee funds, which aim to cover policy holders in case of bankruptcy of the insurer. Such “non-admitted” insurance means that most insurers will simply refuse to insure AVs. Who gets to be the driver in the end may have repercussions on whether AVs become insurable or not. 

In addition, certain participants stressed the importance of having legally recognizable persons bear the responsibility – the idea that “software” may be held liable was largely rejected by the audience. There should also be only one such person, not several, if one wants to make it manageable from the perspective of the states’ motor vehicle codes. In addition, from a more purposive perspective, one would want the person liable for the “conduct” of the car to be able to effectuate required changes so to minimize the liability, through technical improvements for example. That being said, such persons will only accept to shoulder liability if costs can be reasonably estimated. It was recognized by participants that humans tend to trust other humans more than machines or software, and are more likely to “forgive” humans for their mistakes, or trust persons who, objectively speaking, should not be trusted.

Another way forward identified by participants is product liability law, whereby AVs would be understood as a consumer good like any other. The question then becomes one of apportionment of liability, which may be rather complex, as the experience of the Navya shuttle crash in Las Vegas has shown. 

Conclusion

The key takeaway from the two panels is that AV technology now stands at a crossroads, with key decisions being taken as we discuss by large industry players, national governments and industry bodies. As these decisions will have an impact down the road, all participants and panelists agreed that the “go fast and break things” approach will not lead to optimal outcomes. Specifically, one line of force that comes out from the two panels is the idea that it is humans who stand behind the technology, humans who take the key decisions, and also humans who will accept or reject commercially-deployed AVs, as passengers and road users. As humans, we live our daily lives, which for most of us include using roads under various capacities, in a densely codified environment. However, this code, unlike computer code, is in part unwritten, flexible and subject to contextualization. Moreover, we sometimes forgive each others’ mistakes. We often think of the technical challenges of AVs in terms of sensors, cameras and machine learning. Yet, the greatest technical challenge of all may be to express all the flexibility of our social and legal rules into unforgivably rigid programming language. 

Many have claimed that EU’s General
Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) would “kill AI”. Shortly after its entry into
force at the end of May 2018, the New
York Times
was already carrying industry concerns: “the new European data
privacy legislation is so stringent that it could kill off data-driven online services
and chill innovations like driverless cars, tech industry groups warn.”
Following that train of thought, news outlets, general and specialized alike, have
since then piled up
on how such regulations on “data” would generally be
harmful to innovation.

To be sure, other voices make
themselves heard too. When trust in a technology is at stake, heralds of that
technology understand that appearing to embrace regulation is a good PR move. Yet,
beyond what could be seen as a cynical attitude, there are the pragmatists too.
For them, regulation is a given, and with
the right mindset
, it can be transformed into an advantage.

This is such a mindset one could
expect for European Union institutions. Speaking at a tech conference in
Slovenia last April, EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc painted a rosy
future for European transportation. Not only is Europe ready for automation,
but it is embracing it. Already, car manufacturers must integrate certain
automation components to all their new cars, such as lane assistance,
distraction sensors and a black box used to “determine the cause of accidents.”
And then not only cars, but ships, planes, trains, even drones are part of the
EU’s vision for an integrated transportation system, as part of the “mobility
as a service,” or MaaS vision. To support that MaaS (all-electric and
paperless,) a “European GPS,” Galileo, and widespread 5G deployment, with even
a priority on rural areas!

Is this all fluff? Far from seeking
refuge from overbearing European red tape, most European AI and automation
leaders see themselves in a “tortoise and the hare” paradigm: let the US
innovators go fast and break things; we’ll take steady measured steps forward,
but we’ll get there, and maybe even before the US. This is what a recent
Bloomberg feature article on the booming
European automation
scene. Concretely, what are these steps? As far as AVs
go, the first and main one is shared data sharing. Intense AV testing might be
Arizona’s and California’s go-to model. But what is the use case for Waymo’s
car beyond the dry, wide, and dunny streets of Phoenix? What about dense urban
environments with narrow streets, like in Europe? Or snowy, low-density
countryside roads, of which there are plenty in the US during the winter
months? Safety in mass deployment will come from the capacity to aggregate everyone’s data, not just your own.

The most surprising part is that this
push to open the “walled gardens” of the large OEMs does not even come from the
government, but from tech firms. One of them,
Austrian
, is working an open AV operating system, with the intention to
keep safety at the core of its business philosophy. As its founder told
Bloomberg, “open to information sharing” is a requirement for safety. With such
an angle, one is not surprised to read that the main challenge the company
faces is the standardization of data flows; a tough challenge. But isn’t what
innovation is about?

While the clever scientists won’t
give the press all their tricks, many appear confident, stating simply that
working with such regulations simply requires a “different approach.”

After introducing a discussion of mobility justice last week, I planned to highlight a few cities that were doing particularly well at enabling transit equity across racial or economic lines in their cities. While I did not expect to find many cities excelling across the board, I hoped to find some places with best practices that could be used as models along one dimension or another of mobility justice.

What I found instead is that to date, no metrics exist that appear to capture the full picture of mobility justice without leaving out significant elements of the challenge. 

For instance, 99% of San Francisco’s population lives within half a mile of public transit. In one sense, this is a positive development, as a city cannot have accessible transit options unless those options physically travel near people’s homes. However, other authors have pointed out that high housing costs have driven many of the most vulnerable communities in the San Francisco metro area beyond city limits, where transit options become sparser. Furthermore, the fee structure of San Francisco’s public transit can serve to make mobility unaffordable for low-income riders. The region has recognized transit equity as a problem, creating the Bay Area Equity Analysis Report to explore ways to improve access to transit across the region. The report includes proposals such as a region-wide reduced fare pass and a simplified process to apply for reduced fares. Both proposals appear to be positive steps. Their effectiveness at improving access to transit must be evaluated in the coming years.

New York’s subway system is by far the busiest in the nation. Virtually the entire city has either subway or bus service near their home, and the city’s buses and subways provide roughly 7.7 million rides per day. However, the high usage rate is straining the system. In recent decades New York’s subway has been chronically underfunded, and thus subject to increasing delays and needs for repair that limit its usefulness for many city residents. Furthermore, it is unclear how much even a fully functional New York subway could serve as a model for other cities. New York is among a limited number of American cities that grew up before the rise of the automobile. As such, it is more compact as a whole, and its transit system was able to grow with the city in a way that would not be the case for the more sprawling cities investing more heavily in transit in recent years.

A recent study by Greg Griffin and Ipek Nese Sener from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute analyzed transit equity in nine major metro areas across the nation. The authors found that cities like Atlanta and Los Angeles, which have an integrated system of both bus and rail service, are among the most equitable in the nation. However, they cautioned that their study focused primarily on access across incomes, rather than overall access. A city such as Atlanta “may rank low on overall accessibility while doing well in terms of equity by income. Of course, lower transit accessibility overall will undoubtedly impact low-income communities more than others. While their research did not account for such issues, the development of a metric to study transit equity is a valuable contribution to the mobility justice conversation.

On the whole, no city in America is a great model of mobility justice. This is perhaps unsurprising, considering that mobility justice involves the interaction of a wide range of factors such as pricing, changing housing patterns, and planning of effective combinations of rail, bus, bikeshare, and other programs. In each city, adequately meeting this challenge will require significant local engagement with the most impacted communities, and a constant willingness to adapt their system. Plans such as the Bay Area’s Equity Analysis Report are a step in the right direction. As automated vehicles and other new forms of transportation emerge, cities need to be especially attentive to their impacts on marginalized communities.

Whenever connected and autonomous vehicles are considered, some people envision a mobility paradise. They see current parking areas making way for more productive buildings or green space, pedestrians and cyclists sharing the roads with vehicles that can seamlessly respond to every move, and a dramatic decrease in traffic fatalities. Such visions are behind much of the push towards autonomous vehicles, and the hands-off regulatory approaches I’ve written about before in states like Arizona.

Grand visions of the future of mobility frequently focus on socioeconomic segments of our society from the middle class up. This focus is rarely stated explicitly. However, it is generally assumed that autonomous vehicles will be hailed with a smartphone. Major beneficiaries of the CAV revolution will be information sector employees who could work from a laptop during their commute. Reuse of space currently dominated by parking is primarily an issue for affluent downtown business districts. While CAVs could ease transportation for many people, it is important that affirmative steps be taken to ensure access to adequate transportation for poor and minority communities in the new world we are building.

The advent of CAVs would not be the first time a new transportation technology has left disadvantaged communities behind. The rise of the personal automobile led to a transportation boom for the middle class, while many poor neighborhoods were forgotten or paved over to facilitate the creation of new highways. Many poor and minority communities today are in “transit deserts,” areas of a city with high demand for public transportation but poor service.

Some of the problems stemming from past transportation shifts were borne of malice. The history of redlining and efforts to design cities in such a way as to keep minority communities segregated from middle and upper-class white residents is well documented. Much of the problem may have also been simple negligence. People with disposable income, cars, and cell-phones are better able to make their voice heard in corridors of power. Without an active effort to reach out to other parts of their constituency, government officials may only hear the needs of those with the means to participate.

There are early signs that cities are considering how to make new transit systems accessible by the whole community. While light on detail, a recent document from the National Association of City Transportation Officials lists “mobility for the whole city” as a key principle of the coming urban transportation environment. The World Bank has noted the importance of transit opportunities to the economic prospects of impoverished city-dwellers. To follow up on that high-minded vision, city leaders will need to not only engage the usual stakeholders and governmental departments, but the entirety of the effected community. Mayors, council members, and planners must actively reach out to poor and minority communities to discuss their transportation needs, and develop concrete plans. Such outreach may not be easy, particularly given the need to account for the time constraints of people who work multiple jobs or lack disposable income. It is the type of work that is necessary though if the CAV revolution is to fulfill its potential for all of a city’s people.

By the end of this year, Alphabet subsidiary Waymo plans to launch one of the nation’s first commercial driverless taxi services in Phoenix, Arizona. As preparations move forward, there has been increasing attention focused on Arizona’s regulatory scheme regarding connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), and the ongoing debate over whether and how their deployment should be more tightly controlled.

In 2015, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order directing state agencies to “undertake any steps necessary to support the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles” on public roads in the state. The order helped facilitate the Phoenix metro area’s development as a key testing ground for CAV technology and laid the groundwork for Waymo’s pioneering move to roll out its driverless service commercially in the state. It has also been the target of criticism for not focusing enough on auto safety, particularly in the aftermath of a deadly crash involving an Uber-operated CAV in March.

As the technology advances and the date of Waymo’s commercial rollout approaches, Governor Ducey has issued a new executive order laying out a few more requirements that CAVs must comply with in order to operate on Arizona’s streets. While the new order is still designed to facilitate the proliferation of CAVs, it includes new requirements that CAV owners affirm that the vehicles meet all relevant federal standards, and that they are capable of reaching a “minimal risk condition” if the autonomous system fails.

Along with these basic safety precautions, the order also directs the Arizona Departments of Public Safety and Transportation to issue a protocol for law enforcement interaction with CAVs. This protocol is a public document intended both to guide officers in interactions with CAVs and to facilitate owners in designing their cars to handle those interactions. The protocol, issued by the state Department of Transportation in May, requires CAV operators to file an interaction protocol with the Department explaining how the vehicle will operate during emergencies and in interactions with law enforcement. As CAVs proliferate, a uniform standard for police interactions across the industry may become necessary for purposes of administrative efficiency. If and when that occurs, the initial standard set by Waymo in Arizona is likely to bear an outsized influence on the nationwide industry.

Critics have called the new executive order’s modest increase in safety requirements too little for such an unknown and potentially dangerous technology. Even among critics however, there is no agreement as to how exactly CAVs should be regulated. Many have argued for, at minimum, more transparency from the CAV companies regarding their own safety and testing procedures. On the other hand, advocates of Arizona’s relaxed regulatory strategy suggest that public unease with CAVs, along with the national news coverage of each accident, will be enough to push companies to adopt their own stringent testing and safety procedures.

This more hands-off regulatory approach will get its first close-up over the next few months in Arizona. The results are likely to shape the speed and direction of growth in the industry for years to come.

 

Last week’s release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report highlights the “rapid and far-reaching” societal transformations required in order to limit warming to 1.5, or even 2 degrees Celsius. A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, highlights the role of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) in ushering in a low-emissions future. This research sheds new light on a largely understudied aspect of the coming CAV revolution. In my first post for the Journal of Law and Mobility, I will summarize that study and provide key takeaways for policymakers.

The Michigan study identifies several factors that will cause CAVs to emit more greenhouse gases than comparable human-driven vehicles. The weight of sensors and the computer system necessary to operate an CAV, the power consumed by the computer system, in particular the mapping function used to create high definition charts of the car’s surroundings, and the increased drag from cameras and sensors mounted on the outside of the vehicle, all operate to increase emissions. Depending on the weight of the equipment and power usage of the computer, these factors were found to increase emissions by between 2.8% and 20% relative to a comparable human driven car.

These factors are expected to be partially, if not entirely, offset by the car’s ability to create more favorable traffic patterns and identify more efficient routes. This extra efficiency is expected to more than offset any increase in weight, power usage, and drag under some scenarios, and turn a relatively large emissions increase into a more modest one under others. All things considered, the study finds that the emissions impact of CAVs will range from a 9% reduction to a 5% increase.

Many of the obstacles to reducing CAV emissions are engineering challenges: reducing the weight and power consumption of computer systems, and improving the aerodynamics of external sensors. Policymakers role in solving these challenges are likely to primarily take the form of support for university research and/or tax credits for private sector research on improving the efficiency of CAVs.

Policymakers do however have a significant role to play in improving the network effects of automated vehicles, such as reduced congestion. After the proper levels of safety, security, and reliability are obtained, a high volume of CAVs on the road increases the efficiencies that can be gained through cars communicating with each other to ease the flow of traffic. Laws that ensure high standards for data privacy and CAV safety can give consumers the confidence needed to use CAVs at a higher rate. Regulatory schemes that ease the entrance of CAV fleets into a city’s vehicular landscape can promote early adoption.

Particularly as the technology advances, CAVs have a role to play in reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Widespread adoption of the technology can maximize these benefits, paving the way for large fleets of CAVs that create strong network efficiencies. As the technology advances to a point of being safe for public use, policymakers should account for these potential benefits as they consider the advent of CAVs in their cities.

This fall, the University of Michigan Law School is offering its third Problem Solving Initiative (“PSI”) course concerning connected and automated vehicles. The first class, offered in the Winter 2017 semester, involved a team of fifteen graduate students from law, business, engineering, and public policy who accepted the challenge of coming up with commercial use cases for data generated by connected vehicles using dedicated short-range communication (“DSRC”) technology.

In the Fall of 2017, we offered our second PSI Course in CAV—this one to 23 graduate students. That course focused on the problem of Level 3 autonomy, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (“SAE”). Level 3 autonomy, or conditional automation, is defined as a vehicle driving itself in a defined operational design domain (“ODD”), with a human driver always on standby to take over the vehicle upon short notice when the vehicle exits the ODD. As with the first course, our student teams spent the semester collecting information from industry, governmental, and academic experts and proposing a series of innovative solutions to various obstacles to the deployment of Level 3 systems.

This semester, our PSI course is entitled Connected and Automated Vehicles: Preparing for a Mixed Fleet Future. I will be co-teaching the course with Anuj Pradhan and Bryant Walker Smith. Our focus will be on the multiple potential problems created by unavoidable future interactions between automated vehicles and other road users, such as non-automated, human-driven vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

Although cars can be programmed to follow rules of the road, at its core, driving and roadway use are social activities. Roadway users rely heavily on social cues, expectations, and understandings to navigate shared transportation infrastructure. For example, although traffic circles are in principle governed by a simple rule of priority to vehicles already in the circle, their actual navigation tends to governed by a complex set of social interactions involving perceptions of the intentions, speed, and aggressivity of other vehicles. Similarly, while most states require bicyclists to obey stop signs and traffic lights, most cyclists do not; prudent drivers should not expect them to.

Can cars be programmed to behave “socially?” Should they be, or is the advent of robotic driving an opportunity to shift norms and expectations toward a greater degree of adherence to roadway rules? Will programming vehicles to be strictly rule compliant make CAVs “roadway wimps,” always giving in to more aggressive roadway users? Would that kill the acceptance of CAVs from a business perspective? Is reform legislation required to permit CAVs to mimic human drivers?

More generally, is the advent of CAVs an opportunity to reshape the way that all roadway users access roadways? For example, could the introduction of automated vehicles be an opportunity to reduce urban speeds? Or to prohibit larger private vehicles from some streets (since people may no longer be dependent only on their individually owned car)? These questions are simply illustrative of the sorts of problems our class may choose to tackle. Working in interdisciplinary groups, our graduate students will attempt to identify and solve the key legal, regulatory, technological, business, and social problems created by the interaction between CAVs and other roadway users.

As always, our class will rely heavily on on the expertise of folks from government, industry, and academia. We welcome any suggestions for topics we should consider or experts who might provide important insights as our students begin their discovery process next week.