Everyone is invited to learn about new technologies with us through our Future School online learning program: New Mobility 101.
This program will introduce you to new mobility technologies through short videos and quizzes. After the last module, you can take a final quiz and earn a certificate to show off your future thinking skills.
From February to May 2021, a new module will appear every month along with a quiz and other resources to learn more. Receive an email when a new module is online by joining the mailing list above. Encourage your friends and family to join us and discuss these topics with them.
Transportation including the SkyTrain, electric trolleybuses, and devices like e-bikes have helped shape our cities. Motorized transportation – first streetcars, and later automobiles – allowed cities and regions to grow beyond the early compact settlements accessible by walking and animal-led transportation.
For most of the 20th century, cities were designed for travelling by car. In Vancouver, we've done a lot of work in recent years to make more room for other transportation modes and to increase choices for residents.
Our city and region continue to grow, and we have a fixed amount of space to fit in new competing demands. New technologies– like bike-share, car-share, and transit apps – are already changing the way we get around, and fully driverless vehicles could one day be a reality.
Shared services provide users access to vehicles or personal mobility devices as needed, without the costs of owning and maintaining a vehicle.
Shared vehicle services often include car-sharing, bike-sharing, and electric scooter-sharing. In 2018, 34% of Vancouver residents were members of at least one car-sharing service. As Vancouver’s bike-share system has expanded, it has also grown in popularity. There was a 30% increase in bike-share trips between 2017 and 2018.
As these changes begin to shape our transportation system, the City and Province must work together to manage the use of our streets and sidewalks. The Province has allowed ride-hailing and is considering changes to the Motor Vehicle Act that would also allow e-scooters to operate in the City.
Electric vehicles (EV), including personal mobility devices like e-bikes, are an important component of our transition to renewable energy powered transportation. In BC, 9% of all light-duty vehicles sold are EVs, the highest market share in North America.
Work is underway in Vancouver to support these types of vehicles with a public network of charging stations and related infrastructure. Other personal mobility devices may also need to share this infrastructure in the future.
Connected technologies use wireless networks to connect to infrastructure like traffic signals and signage, with other vehicles, and with other devices and systems. These connections can provide warnings, alerts, and other information to people traveling on the street or nearby.
Many newer vehicles on the road already have systems that allow the driver to make a call or plot a route. You may already be able to lock a car-share vehicle or call a ride-hailing vehicle from your phone.
The levels of driving automation range from partially automated with features like cruise control (common on our streets), to fully autonomous vehicles that are capable of self-driving in all conditions (not yet in production). Some vehicles can already park themselves or brake automatically and several companies have vehicles that can drive on their own in controlled environments.
Ontario is the only Canadian province that currently allows testing of highly automated vehicles on public roads. In Vancouver, we tested the Electric Automation (ELA) driverless shuttle for a week in 2019 to learn about the technology and the public reaction to a driverless shuttle.
As technology changes, public transit will remain a high-capacity people mover and, especially in times of stress, an essential way to keep everyone moving. Channeling technological improvements to ensure transit is equitable and accessible will always be a top priority.
Vancouver has long been at the forefront of new transit mobility like the automated SkyTrain. Today’s buses look very much like buses from the past, but TransLink continues to advance new technology by adding zero-emission vehicles and transit priority systems to its fleets.
The last decade has also seen an explosion of new technologies and devices that help transit users travel the “first and last miles” between home and their nearest transit stop. Shared technology allows us to travel one-way by bike, e-bike, e-scooter, or ride hailing vehicle without having to own these devices. Through these shared options, we can choose how we want to get to or from transit stations. Connected and automated vehicles may even allow us to make these last mile trips together in automated shuttles that travel the routes passengers need.
But will all these new trends really make transit more accessible? Often shared mobility services do best in dense urban areas with higher demand. Lower density communities on the periphery may never see the same level of service, if they see the service at all. That leaves the transit system to reach these residents in areas that are the most expensive to serve.
More trends will emerge and should be incorporated in our transportation system to improve access to the transit in an equitable way.
Walking, cycling, and micromobility are important to sustainability in urban environments – they are convenient ways to get around for short trips, and for connecting with transit or shared vehicles for longer trips. Micromobility refers to ways of getting around on small, wheeled devices. This includes human-powered devices like skateboards, push-scooters, and inline skates, as well as electric devices like e-scooters and hoverboards. Some are new and some have been around for a long time.
Shared and connected technologies are also changing micromobility. We can find where we want to go, plan a route and locate the nearest bike share station. In the future, connected technology and sensors may be able to improve road safety for active travel users by adjusting crossing signal times or street lighting as they walk, roll, or ride by.
New ways of getting around also present new challenges to managing our streets and public space. As the video mentions, micromobility devices can create hazards depending on where they travel and park, especially for people using wheelchairs and other mobility aids. The comfort of these groups and other groups that experience significant barriers to travel (such as fears of harassment) should be top of mind as we introduce new devices to our city. Regardless of the mode of transportation used, it is important to consider how everyone can reach their destination safely and comfortably.
We’re going to dig deeper into automated and connected technology. You can learn the basics in Module 1.
New automated and connected technologies may dramatically change our experience of travelling in a car. We might no longer need to steer, brake, or even navigate our vehicle for portions of our trip. One day, vehicles may even be able to travel without a driver.
What does that mean for those who travel or gather on our streets? In the best scenarios for the future, we can imagine increased accessibility and independence for youth, seniors, people with limited mobility, and people without driver’s licenses. There are also opportunities to decrease traffic enforcement, improve travel options outside of rush hour, and look at ways to improve personal safety for all.
However, there are many worries as well. Will automated and connected vehicles help us work toward the City of Vancouver’s Vision Zero goal, to have zero traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries? Major advances in technology will be needed to have vehicles react quickly in all types of weather and to everyone on the road, especially those walking, biking, and rolling. Connected systems must also be secure from cyberattacks and resilient enough to function during emergencies.
Preparing highly automated technology ready for unpredictable real world conditions is a continuing challenge. Careful consideration will be needed to ensure these systems are safe and reliable for everyone on our streets.
Predictions for timelines of road-ready, fully self-driving vehicles are always changing and there are many different ideas about when that will be. We will likely see automation first in highway driving – the timeline for more complex urban settings is likely much longer.