Trend Watch November 2018

Muji Driverless Bus-tw

Muji’s driverless shuttle bus:

Japanese brand Muji has unveiled designs for an autonomous all-weather shuttle bus, called Gacha, set to run in three cities in Finland by 2020.

Muji provided the aesthetic design, wanting it to look “friendly” and inviting, with autonomous driving technology by Finnish company Sensible 4.

“We are developing these vehicles so that they can become part of [the] daily transportation service chain,” says Harri Santamala, CEO of Sensible 4, in Fast Company.

“Autonomous vehicles can’t become mainstream until their technology has been insured to work in all climates.”

The bus features a curved, cubic externior, with no discernable distinction between its front and back. A band of LED lights act as headlights, and signal to pedestrians and other drivers.

The bus is expected to be launched in Helsinki in March 2019, and if testing is successful, rolled out to Espoo, Vantaa and Hämeenlinna. For more details and images, see Dezeen.

Baltimore Complete Street-tw

Baltimore to use Complete Streets to Promote Racial Equity:

Baltimore City has introduced a new Complete Streets Ordinance aiming to make streets safer for all users, moving priority away from cars.

The City found that “Baltimore spends a disproportionate amount of money on streets designed only to move cars.”

Measures will include adding bike lanes, intersection bulb-outs and narrowing lanes to assist pedestrians and cyclists in moving around the city, no matter which neighbourhood they call home.

The Ordinance, says Baltimore, should have the greatest effect in historically disenfranchised neighbourhoods, which have fewer drivers and more pedestrians.

“In every historically red-lined, majority African-American community in east and west Baltimore City, the number of households with no vehicle access is greater than 50 per cent,” wrote Council Member Ryan Dorsey.

Those neighbourhoods, he says, disproportionately bear the impacts of streets oriented for drivers, such as safety risks and air pollution.

According to the report, black cyclists are 30 per cent more likely to be killed on Baltimore roads than white cyclists. Latino cyclists are 23 per cent more likely.

Black pedestrians are 60 per cent more likely to be killed, and Latino 43 per cent more likely, than white pedestrians.

Complete Streets often have slower speed limits, wide and maintained sidewalks and crosswalks, accessible street furniture, pedestrian focused lighting, protected bike lanes, bus lanes and bus shelters, and beautification like trees and plantings.

Streets Blog reports that the policy also calls for the planning process to made more equitable, with recommendations to include community groups in the process, hold meetings in accessible locations and ensure sufficient translation services are provided.


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