As new transit startups take over streets and sidewalks, cities need to step up - Curbed

Earlier today, Uber announced big changes to its app. Now, when users open it, instead of just seeing potential ride-hailing drivers circling their neighborhood for fares, they’ll be presented with additional options, including bike share and public transit.

It’s part of what you might call a multimodal revolution for the ride-hailing giant. Just a few days ago, Uber acquired the San Francisco dockless electric bike-share startup Jump, which will allow users to seamlessly move between two types of transportation—and perhaps even elect to take the bike over the vehicle. It suggests shifting priorities, and changes in the transit tech landscape.

The acquitision was about “championing smart technology for smart cities,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrohshahi said in a statement, as well as bringing together a variety of transit options and reducing private car ownership.

While that all may be true, it’s also a clear sign that Uber and other new transit technology companies are engaged in a battle to control the curb. And as tech companies continue to jockey for market share on streets and sidewalks, local governments need to lead on critical issues—including congestion, pedestrian safety, infrastructure funding—with a cohesive agenda that favors the public good. Studies already show that increased Uber and Lyft usage have increased traffic and vehicle-miles traveled.

The future of urban transit is increasingly multimodal and less reliant on personal car ownership—and it’s one that cities need to take a larger role in shaping.

Considering how much city governments rely on parking revenue—Governing magazine found that the top 25 cities collected nearly $5 billion a year in auto-related revenue in 2016—it’s not only a question of safety, it’s a question of financial stability

“Cities have started to rethink how their streets are designed from curb from curb,” Matthew Roe, designing cities director for the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), told Wired. “It’s the most valuable space that a city owns and one of the most underutilized.”

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