Emerging Mobility: Social Revolution, Environmental Threat?

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If you live in an urban area, you may be familiar with the popular electric scooter as a form of transportation. Maybe you bike to your neighborhood rail station, and ride the train to your office. Maybe you call an Uber or Lyft every morning to get you to where you need to go, or, if you’re money conscious, maybe you share that ride with other strangers who happen to have a similar commute as you. Some of you may be fully electric – taking an electric car or bus to your place of work, with hopes to reduce emissions and your impact on your environment. And very few of you (and we mean only a few) may be driven to work by an autonomous vehicle.
If any of these sound familiar, you can consider yourself part of a revolution. A transportation revolution that is, known as the Three Revolutions – Steering Automated, Shared, and Electric Vehicles to a Better Future by author Daniel Sperling. Sperling uses data to encourage the reader to think about the future sustainability of the transportation system.

But this transportation revolution will not be seamless nor easy. As the saying goes: “There was no shipwreck until the invention of the ship.” While emerging technologies work to reshape the transportation networks, that network’s travelers, policy-makers, transit and transportation managers, and businesses are weighing the advantages of technology and the disadvantages to the environment and communities.

Emerging Mobility Impacts

Colorado’s population and economy continue to grow — the State Demographer’s Office recently reported that Colorado’s population increased by over 487,000 people between 2010 to 2017. By 2040, the state’s population is expected to be well over 7 million people. More people means more impact on the transportation network, straining Colorado’s already-crowded highway corridors and compounding traffic delays that result in billions of dollars per year in economic impact in terms of wasted fuel and wasted time.

Emerging technologies, while providing greater mobility options, also place additional demand on the transportation network. Transportation Network Companies (TNC) like Uber and Lyft use a digital network to connect riders to drivers. Forbes Magazine noted that “…. Uber and growing rival Lyft have captured 70.5% of the U.S. business traveler market.” — in other words, 7 out of 10 travelers have used a TNC. Traffic modelers and transportation planners are forecasting a sizeable impact of the potential additional vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on the transportation network due to TNC trips to pick up and deliver both passengers and parcels. For example, a recent study completed by NREL noted that for every 100 passenger vehicle miles delivered, there was an additional 69 miles of VMT. These additional miles to pick up a passenger or to drive home at the end of a shift are known as “dead-heading.”

E-commerce real-time package delivery also has a growing impact. E-commerce companies like Amazon Flex and UberEats will allow for virtually any motivated driver and vehicle to become an on-demand package or meal delivery service. Use of these new mobility and delivery platforms continues to expand in popularity, volume, and VMT.

Emerging technologies pose risk to the environment, too. Air quality issues are serious in Colorado and, in response to this challenge and that of climate change, the administration of Governor Jared Polis set a goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2040. In order to achieve this goal, the administration established a strategic plan — a key aspect of which is reducing the impacts of vehicles. Strategies to reduce VMT and shift more rides from vehicles with internal combustion engines (traditional fuel-based engines) to electric vehicles will help improve air quality in Colorado.

Senate Bill 19-239

As a result of these emerging mobility changes, the Colorado Legislature passed SB19-239, charging the Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Energy Office (CEO) to convene a working group of experts and representatives to examine the emerging mobility industry and its impacts on emissions and congestion.

CDR facilitated the diverse Stakeholder Working Group (SWG), which met from early summer to October 2019. The SWG considered recommendations on how to incentivize the adoption of zero-emission vehicles, like charging stations and multiple passenger ride sharing strategies. The SWG dove into issues around equity, fees, electric vehicle adoption, reducing congestion, and safety.

Stay tuned for what the future of transportation looks like, especially the next time you take an Uber or have a package delivered.

For more information on mobility and the transportation revolution, reach out to Jonathan Bartsch at jbartsch@mediate.org, Tracy Winfree at twinfree@mediate.org, or Melissa Rary at mrary@mediate.org.

Taber Ward: PhD Bound!

BeBoulderPhotography_CDR-30Taber Ward, Program Manager at CDR Associates, has recently enrolled in a part-time PhD program in the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado, Denver. She is focusing her research on social-ecological transformative planning and learning network design and facilitation.

Taber has spent the last two decades immersed in creating and facilitating sustainable land use networks, private-public partnerships, stakeholder engagement processes, and policy. The opportunity to work with the CU-Denver Planning department reflects her deep-rooted commitment to collaborative community development and planning and implementation. The PhD program will expand her expertise and knowledge base in environmental and health equity, civic and open space protection, public involvement, and regional planning

Taber believes that you have to get your hands dirty to get the job done. The CU-Denver PhD program resonates for that reason because it fosters experiences beyond the classroom to provide community-based field work and research opportunities. The CU-Denver Program also aligns with her desire to bring innovation and systems change through brokering knowledge, finding solutions, and supporting capacity in land use and environmental arenas.

Taber hopes to bring the planning experiences and research skills obtained during her PhD program to her work and depth of knowledge in her position as a Program Manager at CDR. Contact Taber at tward@mediate.org for more information.

May 2020: Facilitation & Mediation of Public & Environmental Conflicts

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CDR is proud to announce that our acclaimed public training program, Facilitation and Mediation of Public and Environmental Conflicts, is now available for registration. The course will take place from May 5th to May 7th 2020, at the Alliance Center in downtown Denver, Colorado.

The three-day course teaches participants facilitation skills, methods of engagement, and conflict resolution theories. It is a deep-dive into practical strategies for reaching agreement with stakeholders and partners — and is taught by experienced trainers who lean on real-world projects to augment the course delivery.

Email CDR or call (303) 442-7367 for more details about the course, or register online today. Our Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 classes sold out – so don’t wait! We hope to see you in May.

A Trip to Alaska

Culture’s a complex thing. And, in a place as unique as Alaska, that’s certainly the case. Marcus Sakey once said, “Nobody is accidentally in Alaska. The people who are in Alaska are there because they choose to be, so they’ve sort of got a real frontier ethic. The people are incredibly friendly, interesting, smart people – but they also stay out of each other’s business.”

In July, Jonathan Bartsch and Jeffrey Range met with and worked with a group from all over Alaska on a National Transit Institute (NTI) course about public involvement in transportation decision-making. What they found was that, although the magnitude of the space in Alaska contributes to a culture of individual freedom, there is also a deep sense of community. The people that Jonathan and Jeffrey worked with traveled from Anchorage, Wasilla, and Fairbanks, and from the private sector, the public sector, and non-profits — a diverse cross section of people, and all interested in how transportation planning can support larger community goals. The question explored was, “How can working with the public more effectively improve transportation decision-making?”

The course participants shared specific challenges they currently experience on specific projects and, collaboratively, the group developed ideas and strategies to support solutions. In a micro-sense, the individuals actively worked to support the others in the group. In a macro-sense everyone in the group did the work they did, in part, because of the benefits their community will experience.

To find out more about using public involvement in transportation decision-making to support community goals reach out to Jeffrey Range at jrange@mediate.org.

Wildlands, Wildlife, and Wildly Working to Provide Safe Passage for People and Wildlife in Colorado

Image by David Mark

Colorado is known for many things but few more iconic than its beautiful landscapes, vast mountainous wilderness, and wild animals. Elk, moose, bear, pronghorn, and many other large mammals travel across Colorado’s landscape in search of habitat, food, water, and a safe place to raise their young. Colorado’s quickly growing population, and the resulting growth of its transportation networks, is in direct conflict with traditional migration routes for many of these animals and herds. When animals and humans meet on Colorado’s roads, the outcome isn’t pretty; there are a number of forces working to change that right here in the Centennial State.

For over two years, CDR has been working with the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and federal agencies, local organizations, sportsmen’s groups, engineers, and nonprofits to establish and grow the Colorado Wildlife and Transportation Alliance. You can see our work with the Alliance evolve here and here.

This past August, something new and exciting happened. Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed Executive Order, D 2019 011, Conserving Colorado’s Big Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors.

“Colorado’s natural beauty and wildlife are part of why so many people love our great state,” said Governor Polis. “This is a step toward better understanding and protecting the migratory patterns of Colorado’s wildlife populations and ensuring we can preserve our treasured animals and their habitats.”

In a Press Release, the Governor’s Office highlighted one of the most iconic wildlife crossings in the state. “Colorado has seen success with a number of wildlife passages around the state, most notably with Highway 9 south of Kremmling through the Blue River Valley. Over an 11 year stretch, there were more than 650 wildlife-vehicle collisions on this section of highway. Through collaboration, a wildlife passage project was completed in November 2016 and consists of two wildlife overpass structures, five wildlife underpasses, 10.4 miles of eight-foot-high wildlife exclusion fencing, 61 wildlife escape ramps, and 29 wildlife guards to help reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions while providing safe passages for wildlife.”

This is important not only to connect animals to their natural habitat, but for human safety as well. In addition to charging Colorado DNR with studying migration corridors and their intersection with Colorado roads, as well as CDOT with incorporating big game migration considerations into planning, the EO also underscores the importance of the Alliance and strengthening partnerships around Wildlife and Transportation issues. This is big news for all Colorado residents – both two legged and four!