Vulnerable Road Users

Brave New Road: The Role of Technology in Achieving Safe and Just Transport Systems

Co-sponsored by the University of South Carolina School of Law

How can new technologies help correct the many equity and equality issues facing our transportation system? How can we ensure the deployment of new technologies doesn’t exacerbate these existing issues?

Over the course of March, April, and May, experts and advocates will join together to discuss how to ensure emerging transportation technologies (Such as automated vehicles (“AVs”), micromobility, connected infrastructure, and unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs”)) are deployed in ways that focus on justice and safety for the communities they are operating in. This focus will include experts from a number of disciplines and focus on the safe systems approach, civil rights, equity, and the law and policy considerations related to those issues.

Information on all of the experts participating in this conference is available along with links to their work and other recommended reading.

Week One - March 23 and 24
Does Newer Mean Better? - The Present and Future of Emerging Transportation Technologies
Tuesday, March 23 – 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM Eastern

Emerging Transportation Technologies, a Primer

A write-up of this panel is available here

Expert participants will provide an overview of emerging transportation technologies, focusing on AVs, micromobility, connected infrastructure, and UAVs. The discussion will include details on how these technologies work, their capabilities, and the technical, legal, and policy challenges they face when deployed in public. 


Emily Frascaroli, Managing Counsel, Product Litigation Group, Ford Motor Company (US)

Expert Participants:

Jennifer A. Dukarski, Shareholder, Butzel Long

Nira Pandya, Associate, Covington

Bryant Walker Smith, Co-Director of Law and Mobility Program, Associate Professor of Law, University of South Carolina Law School

Wednesday, March 24 – 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Eastern

A Conversation with Paul C. Ajegba, Director, Michigan Department of Transportation

Join us in conversation with Paul C. Ajegba, P.E., Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. Director Ajegba will discuss MDOT’s work with emerging technologies, as well as how the agency pursues community input and involvement in its projects, before taking time for audience Q&A.

Week Two - April 1
Getting From Here to There - Communities, Emerging Technologies, and Transportation Equity
Thursday, April 1 – 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM Eastern

Transportation Equity and Emerging Technologies

A write-up of this panel is available here

Expert participants will highlight the inequalities and equity issues that exist in our transportation system, how to prevent new transportation tech from exacerbating these issues, and how new tech can potentially help correct those injustices.


C. Ndu Ozor, Associate General Counsel, University of Michigan

Expert Participants:

Robin Chase, Transportation Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Zipcar

Dr. David Rojas-Rueda, MD, MPH, PhD, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University

Dr. Regan F. Patterson, PhD, Transportation Equity Research Fellow, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

Week Three - April 6 and 7
Where Do We Go From Here?
Tuesday, April 6 – 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM Eastern

Justice, Safety, and Transportation Policy

Building on what we’ve learned from the first two weeks, participants will focus on examining how transportation policy is generated and how policymakers can take a more active role in how new technology is deployed and used. This includes policy issues like policing, street and city design, and their intersection with technological adoption.


Ellen Partridge, Policy & Strategy Director, Shared-Use Mobility Center 

Expert Participants:

Justin Snowden, Mobility Expert, Former Chief of Mobility Strategy for the City of Detroit

Kelly Bartlett, Connected and Automated Vehicle Specialist, Michigan Department of Transportation

Kristin White, Connected and Automated Vehicles Executive Director, Minnesota Department of Transportation

Wednesday, April 7 – 12:00 PM to 12:30 PM Eastern

Challenging Algorithms in Court: A Conversation with Kevin De Liban

Join us for a conversation with Kevin De Liban, Director of Advocacy at Legal Aid of Arkansas, who will discuss his work on a successful challenge to Arkansas’s use of an algorithm to make decisions on Medicaid home-care benefits. Kevin will discuss how to approach legal challenges to algorithmic decision-making and what that could mean for emerging technologies. 

Cargo Bikes in NYC

These past few weeks millions of people
went online, added various items to their cart, and hit “submit order.” From
Thanksgiving until the end of December, the volume of packages hitting the road
will be substantial. With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and holiday shopping all
taking place in a short time span, the resulting packages will cause delivery
trucks in heavily populated cities to disrupt road traffic more than ever.

New York City (NYC) has the highest population density
of any city in the United States with over 27,000 people per square mile. Not
only is NYC the most populated, it also has more packages delivered than
anywhere else in the country. There are nearly 1.5 million packages delivered
a day in NYC and during the holiday season that number climbs even higher. When
making deliveries, trucks park in bus lanes and bike lanes, double-park, cause
a significant number of cyclist accidents, and contribute to congestion.
Additionally, delivery trucks pollute the air by sitting in traffic and idling
its engines throughout the day.

Delivery companies and the Department of
Transportation (DOT) are recognizing the rate people are ordering online and
have begun to realize that large trucks may not be the most feasible option to
navigate the busy streets. Recently, the city approved a new program in which
cargo bikes operated by Amazon, UPS, and DHL will be allowed to make deliveries
for the next six months. The Commercial Cargo Bike Program consists of around
100 pedal-assisted, electronic cargo bikes that are ready to
replace some of the delivery trucks on the road.

“There’s no doubt the rise in deliveries has caused chaos on our streets–but there are plenty of thoughtful solutions out there to make our streets safer and more sustainable. I’m excited to see DOT exploring this new technology which will help bring NYC’s freight and delivery systems into the 21st Century. I look forward to seeing these cargo bikes on the road and working with DOT in the near future to take a comprehensive look at how we manage these deliveries.”

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson

The goal of the program is to monitor and
collect data on how the cargo bikes handle the streets by looking at the cargo
bike’s speed, size, parking, use of bike lanes, and effect on overall traffic
in Manhattan. The data will be assessed by the DOT to determine whether a more
permanent implementation of cargo bikes is appropriate for NYC. In the
meantime, cargo bikes are permitted to travel on the street and in bike lanes
at a maximum speed of 12mph as well as park in existing commercial loading
areas without paying the meters. According to DHL, their cargo bikes can hold 300 pounds, which depending
on the size of the packages, could be around 100 to 150 shipments per day. For
each cargo bike put on the road, there is meant to be one delivery truck taken

large cities such as Paris, London, Dublin, and Seattle, have found success in
using cargo bikes. UPS has cargo bikes in over 30 cities all over the world. In NYC, however, Amazon
is at the forefront of the cargo bike movement. Amazon’s cargo bikes comprise
90 of the initial 100 bikes deployed for the program and they hope to add more
soon. Amazon began putting their cargo bikes on the streets before the
Commercial Cargo Bike Program was officially approved. Their cargo bikes were
first put to use ten months ago for Prime Now grocery deliveries.

The convenience, flexibility, and
efficiency of cargo bikes make them just one of many possible solutions for
package delivery in densely populated cities. Now that cargo bikes have the
support of NYC and the DOT, residents might begin to see some much needed
relief to the vehicle congestion caused by too many trucks on the road.