Over the past year we’ve reported on stories about the global rise of startups like Uber and Lyft to the feasibility of driverless cars in the near future. While cities nationwide continue to innovate new ways of revitalizing transit and technology brings transportation into a new realm of possibility, CityLab’s Eric Jaffe takes a look back at some of the most recent highlights:
Self-driving car takes on the city
Last April, Google’s famed autonomous car progressed from driving on simple highways to the twists and turns of city streets. In late May, the company also unveiled a compact version of its self-driving car with a goal on the horizon of testing it in California. With such progress in one short year, Google is on track to bring those cars to a city near you.
U.S. embraces high-speed rail
Super fast trains made a splash this year after California’s state budget made room to break ground on its longstanding plan for high-speed rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco, receiving 25 percent of California’s cap-and-trade revenue each year moving forward. Some reports estimate between $3 and $5 million in funding annually. The state also announced a winning bid and set a groundbreaking date next month on Jan. 5, 2015. That’s a big commitment to moving forward. But elsewhere in the country, high-speed rail projects have gained traction including a Dallas to Houston line and the beginning of construction on the Miami to Orlando route.
Say Aloha to driverless transit
The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is blazing the trail in the U.S. for the first wide-scale urban transit system that is automated. While driverless transit has popped up in cities throughout the world, Honolulu is the first American city to begin soliciting bids for nine stations, including designs for one at its airport. The concept, as experts point out, enables trains to run closer together and provides many safety advantages.
Bicycles go electric
Municipalities have made major advances on enhancing roads to include safe bike paths, and in Cambridge, Mass., a bike company has made strides on creating a new type of bike that could transform the industry. The Cambridge-based mobility company Superpedestrian developed and began taking pre-orders on its Copenhagen Wheel, which turns existing bikes into electric-power bicycles. As CityLab reports, experts estimate the product has the potential to put the U.S. as one of the world’s top e-bike markets within the next two decades.
New York’s “Vision Zero” safety plan
The Big Apple took a page out of Sweden’s playbook earlier this year when Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Vision Zero, a plan to bring the city’s traffic-related death and injury statistics down to zero. The city has rolled out several regulations as a part of the plan, including reducing speed limits to 25 miles an hour. San Francisco is also pushing a similar strategy.