August 26, 2016 by Benjamin de la Peña
July 31, 2015 by Benjamin de la Peña
Photo: Leaders from Knight communities touring Copenhagen last year.
Knight Foundation’s Community and National Initiatives Program returns to Copenhagen, Denmark, this September with civic innovators from 13 Knight communities. Knight grantee 8 80 Cities will take 27 civic innovators to “one of the happiest cities on earth” for five days. Tour participants will experience Copenhagen’s excellent bike and pedestrian infrastructure and learn how various city agencies, nonprofits and the private sector have worked together to cultivate the city’s robust public life.
This year’s participants represent Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, N.C.; Columbus, Ga.; Detroit; Grand Forks, N.D.; Gulfport, Miss.; Lexington, Ky.; Long Beach and San Jose, Calif.; Macon, Ga.; and Miami, Tallahassee and West Palm Beach, Fla. They represent local government, the private sector, nonprofits and local foundations. Invitees include:
· Andy Davis, active transportation coordinator, The University of Akron
· Scott Scarborough, president, The University of Akron
· Jordan Moore, bike program manager, Sustain Charlotte
· Tony Lathrop, chair, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission
· Isaiah Hugley, city manager
September 8, 2016 by Benjamin de la Peña
March 17, 2014 by Benjamin de la Peña
Photo credit: Benjamin de la Peña.
I was at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., recently for a meeting convened by the New Cities Foundation and Google. About 100 of the top transportation experts from around the world were in the room to discuss the future of urban mobility. There were urbanists and designers, engineers and economists, researchers and city officials, such as Mayor Chris Coleman of St. Paul, Minn.
Google, of course, took the time to show off its autonomous vehicle, aka the “self-driving car.” Its current incarnation is a white Lexus SUV, nondescript except for the spinning LIDAR contraption where the luggage rack should be and a Google logo with a smiley car painted on a rear passenger door. Some of us even got to ride the cars. (Sadly, not me.)
In the parking lot where the tech giant was showing six of these smiley robot cars were dozens and dozens of yellow bikes that belong to Google’s campus-wide bike sharing service. It was fascinating that while the engineers talked up the robot cars, other Googlers were quietly coming and going via the yellow bikes in the background.
The Google engineers also didn’t talk about the big Google buses that were streaming in and out of campus at the start and end of the day. These buses were huge tourist coaches, white but without the Google logo or smiley face and trying to be as nondescript as a 40-foot bus can be. Googlers were patiently waiting to get on these contentious buses that would shuttle them, mostly to San Francisco and Oakland, but also to San Jose and Marin County. Some of the bus waiting areas had tables with power outlets so the Googlers could juice up their laptops.