Post Election Post

Yes, I know this is a blog about transportation but this will be my one time outlet for social justice.  I just can’t keep it in any longer and while I realize I do not have millions or thousands of followers, I still feel compelled to share my voice.

This past election sent many of us into grief for quite a few days and the outcome has many feeling it on a very personal level. I don’t know about you, but I took me several days to through the grief and I was stunned how deeply I felt it.

i-am-with-hherSecretary Clinton’s loss was not just about one woman but the hopes and dreams of so many of us. In her, we held hope for a time that diversity was not a word but the way. It was an opportunity to inspire our daughters and to teach our sons – and to correct the many wrongs that have happened over our careers. This was not the first time a well-qualified woman was passed over for a less qualified man and now, my fears are that it will not be the last but also will lengthen the fuse of the white male reign.  Her candidacy represented the kind of country I want to live in and probably you do too.

But, diversity is not enough – we must strive for inclusion as it does not do us any good to have a woman or lesbian, or Muslim or anyone who looks or lives differently than we do if they do not feel included. We can appoint and hire all we want but if they still feel different, still feel like an outsider, then we have not done enough. Inclusion activates community, compassion, potential and unleashes innovation.

So that is why I believe it is time for business to step up in a much bigger way. Clearly, the new administration is not going to ‘lean in’ for women or those whomuslim-woman-at-work look differently. It is up to business to take the courageous step. Forget waiting on legislation and policy, Corporate America has to be the one to pay equal for the same job regardless of gender.
Corporate America has to be the one who includes women in board rooms. Corporate America has to be the entity that allows and accepts those who dress differently because of religious beliefs. We don’t need another program to bring about change, we need the people who run companies to change. We don’t need gov’t to define the values of our country, we need companies with a ZERO-Tolerance for behaviors that leave anyone feeling excluded because of their race, beliefs, how they dress, and who they love.

I found it quite interesting that last week I was in Boston, with Thoreau’s Walden Pond a few miles away. I found myself thinking about civil disobedience and the Million Woman March scheduled the day after inauguration in Washington. I have heard ‘wait 4, possibly 8 years and it will change’ because the data shows that after 8 years, the pendulum swings. But, no, I don’t want to wait so, I had to ask myself and am still asking myself ‘What will I do differently to help make this country the kind of country I want to live in?’  

I am thinking about a few things.  What are you willing to do? Tweet me @Steph_Armistead with #StillWithHer and see what we can include.

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“The ACs Are Coming! The ACs Are Coming!”

Maybe it’s because I am heading to Boston and Paul Revere comes to mind but if he were here, he would surely join me in the shout out!

Autonomous Cars (AC) or self driving vehicles (SDV) are going to happen and it is time to look at how this is going to change your life.

Thinking about buying a new car? Go ahead. Fully autonomous cars are not exactly happening tomorrow. Or next year. But,  this well may be your final purchase. Why? Because your self-driving Uber is arriving now.  In their ask-for-permission-later approach to doing business, UBER has found a city without regulations and has started implementing SDVs in Pittsburg. Uber is piloting 4 Fusions and plans to add 100 Volvos to the pilot by year end. That’s this year’s end.

Want to take the ‘thank GOD it was uneventful’ UBER ride? Click here.  It is pretty cool.

Last Feb., I attended the GreenBiz Conference in Arizona and had the opportunity to hear the VP of Transportation with General Motors make the point that his grandson, now 11, shcoked-teenwill most likely not experience the milestone of getting his driver’s license.  Yup, soon that 16-year-old driver’s license milestone will become the eye roll  as children of Foundationals ask questions like, “What’s a Driver’s License?  “You mean you had to drive yourself?”  “You owned your own car!?”

How will SDVs change your life? Think about all those hours of driving kids car pool to school or birthday parties. Gone.  And all those hours of commute time can now become productive, maybe even billable, time as you (safely) focus on your phone. And as we age, and don’t want to drive or want our parents to drive, what a great way to retain a level of independence.

Reflection pond atop of Kaiser Center Garage.

Reflection pond atop of Kaiser Center Parking Garage.

“But wait!”  you say. “SDVs and ACs  won’t take cars off the road or reduce particulates in the air! Not true, my friend. Cars will be on-demand and shared by many, not an item owned by one. And GMs first SDV will be electric.   Parking decks? Poof – GONE! Or at least minimized and re-purposed. From parking decks to  parks. More greenspace means less CO2 and other particulates that contribute to unhealthy air quality.

So if we are going to be driven, will auto manufacturers be driven out of business? No more automobile manufacturers?

The production of automobiles isn’t disappearing. but auto makers are. I am not talking about going out of business. I am talking about how car manufacturers are now re-framing themselves. They no longer see themselves as automobile manufacturers but as ‘Mobility Companies”. And they are moving at breakneck speed to get there first.

GM spent $1 billion on a tiny self-driving startup called Cruise Automationinterior.  Ford expects to have the largest fleet of autonomous test vehicles of any automaker by year end.  Toyota struck a partnership with Uber.  Volkswagen invested $300 million in ride-hailing company Gett.

Why?

At stake is a transportation services market that Ford believes is worth $5.4 trillion.  That’s a big pie and it’s not just automakers who want a bite of it.  Apple poured $1 billion into China’s Didi Chuxing,  Google partnered with Fiat Chrysler to outfit 100 Pacifica minivans.  Minivans!

Wow, it’s not your father’s Oldsmobile anymore, is it?

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Going My Way?

I am attending the GreenBiz 2016 Conference in fabulous Scottsdale (dry and mid 70s!) and just learned about yet another ride sharetraffic jam funny app – but there’s a twist.  And it’s a great one. Their go to market strategy will definitely keep more than #onelesscar off the road. And it’s simple easy and makes me kick myself and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” 

What I like about this app is that yes, it is the sharing economy, but it is a B2B app. So, what does that mean? Faster uptake for sharing because the company does the work of promoting the program.

So, take Atlanta for example. If you work at Cox, The Coca Cola Company, Emory or another large  employer etc., your biz signs up at no cost and then you, the employee, connect with those who either live in your ‘hood or drive near your place on their route to the same company where you work! Not the workplace down the street. Your place of work. Boom. Door to door service. Now we’re talking.Plus, chances are you know the person (feels safer, right?) but didn’t know they live near you!

car sharing graphicLike UBER, Task Rabbit, InstaCart and all those other great apps I use, no money changes hands; it’s all done by the app. Secure, safe and sound.

So how much does it cost? Fees are based upon distance and the app makes money off the passenger  – a mere $.30. Well worth it to me! But if you drive one week and they drive the next, it’s a win-win break even.  And for me, it is less than a MARTA commute.  Saves time, saves money. And when time is money…..Plus, I can still work on my documents, presentations, catch up on Facebook (UGH) and stay current on the latest rumor, gossip and scandal happening in Hollywood from someone more in the know than me!

Stay tuned – I hope to join. Because this Earth Day is six years of Going.AWOC – Atlanta WithOut a Car!

Oh, the app? It RIDE.com – simple, right?

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Who Was That Chick in The Red Convertible?

Long time, no post!

Did I give up? Nope – just changed it up.

The collective economy is here to stay and I have been doing my share. Car Sharing, that car sharing graphicis. I struggle with feeling in and out of integrity by car sharing so here’s my story and you can decide for yourself.

Getting around Atlanta WithOut a Car has become routine. I figured it out. I do MARTA, UBER, ZIPCAR and carpool where I can.  Then one neighbor asked me if I would consider driving his second car on occasion to keep the battery charged. After all, it was old and was becoming a nuisance for him to manage since he regularly drove his Lexus.

Enter car sharing. A new adventure for me in car (no)ownership.

So, I agreed to drive his 1995 red 350 SL convertible. Oh, the sacrifice I made keeping  up my agreement to keep it charged. But, to counter the commute, I set up carpooling with an associate from my client’s office 3-5 days a week. I felt better about that but not great. After all, I still filled up with petrol.  That car sharing agreement ended with the onset of summer. Bye-bye convertible driving!

Then, just as that was ending,  another neighbor asked to barter my empty parking space for driving privileges of his second car, a LEFE vehicle– low emission, fuel efficient vehicle.  Since my convertible was off line for me during the summer, I accepted. I still
carpooled although I was much  more popular when I drove the convertible! My LEFE deal is over now that he no longer needs a spare space.

So…. integrity.  In or out?crowded-subway-car-hands-flickr

Some say out, some say in. I say whatever it is, I am still, as of Sept 1, commuting on MARTA and still Going AWOC – Atlanta WithOut a Car!

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One Man’s Fight

Did you know that Henry Ford built the first Model T to run on bio fuel? And that moonshine fueled more than Saturday night dancing?

375px-Pacific-Electric-Red-Cars-Awaiting-Destruction

Pacific Electric Railway ‘red car’ streetcars stacked in an LA junkyard in 1956.

Did you know that prohibition was not just about ridding society of the evils of human consumption, but ridding the market of alcohol that might be used to fuel cars?

Are you aware that between 1928 – 1950, streetcar systems and electric train companies were being bought up by companies funded by Firestone, GM, Standard Oil, and Philips Petroleum – then destroyed and replaced by gasoline powered buses that then ran on the same or similar routes?  Several of these companies were convicted of interstate crimes but by then, the damage to our transportation systems and the fate of our environment was sealed.

brazilDid you know when you pull into a fueling station (note: not referred to as a gas station) in Brazil, you have a choice in the type of fuel? The fleet of flexible-fuel vehicles in Brazil is the largest in the world, and since their inception in 2003, a total of 20 million flex fuel choice at the pumpcars and light trucks have been manufactured in the country. Flex-fuel autos and light trucks represented 87.0% of all passenger and light duty vehicles sold. Recently, I learned that there are 120,000 FFV (flex fuel vehicles) registered in GA yet apparently, the owners do not even know they are FFV.  Why aren’t dealers telling them? Why isn’t there enough awareness?

fueling sation 3I have a vision that in our country where we too will move towards having a choice.  We will move to having ‘fueling stations’ not gas stations. Yes, there is gasoline – AND…an  EV charging station, an ethanol pump, a methanol pump, CNG dispensing and we can then purchase the type of vehicle we want future fuel stationbased on what we believe is best for our economy, our nation’s security and our future.

We have choice everywhere we make a purchase.  Just stroll down the grocery aisle and survey the myriad of choices for soup, cereal, sodas, waters et al.  As Americans, we have always believed in choice and we vote each day on the choices we believe in. Beinmcd'sg ‘at choice’ is very powerful and empowering. We have accepted powerless as the new normal and given away our choice at the pump.

I want choice so, until I am on Flex Fuel, I am Going AWOC – AtlantaWithOutaCar!

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I Am Thinking About Driving a Car!

“What? you ask.  “Are you giving up? Are you really calling it quits?”

Not so, my loyal followers.  Read on….

Recently, I viewed a movie that has had me energized and thinking about alternative fuels and what is possible.  I, as well as a few of my fellow greenies, attended the screening of pump logoPUMP, the Movie. ()

For me, giving up my car in 2010 was meant to be a one year experiment about living in # AtlantaWithOutaCar.  I think it might be time for AWOC 2.0!

When I started this journey, I wanted to live a greener life by reducing my personal carbon footprint, reducing traffic congestion, contribute to a cleaner air quality, and largely, reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil.  (I feel like that last one is a biggie. Until we are self-reliant regarding oil, it seems to me we are compromising our national security. Everything we do from minute to minute relies on oil. Food, clothing, shelter – all contain oil, or need oil in some form or fashion. But I digress….)

I am embarking on a new experiment – Atlanta WithaFCar!

“Alas, what can that be?” you asked in great anticipation.

I haven’t quite worked out the new and catchy acronym, but the “F” is for Flex Fuel flexfulelogovehicles. And it is an experiment.

I learned a lot watching PUMP.  Some of the information was enlightening, some was scary and frankly, some just pissed me off! It did it’s job. It got me thinking and wondering ‘what if…’

The movie professes that almost all cars on our road today can be converted to
20141101_153201Flex Fuel
(E-85: 15% gasoline 85% ethanol) and that there are stations in Atlanta where this fuel is available.

I have two neighbors who are concerned about environmental issues and were intrigued as I was to learn about the ease of converting to Flex Fuel. 

Just buy and install the conversion kit, ‘they say.’ Well, let’s see if it is that easy.

The three of us have embarked upon a journey of research, discovery, experimentation and as always, of transparency so, stay tuned.  We are going to share our journey and what we learn along the way.

Until then, I gotta run.  I need to catch the #181 because I am still Going AWOC – AtlantaWithOutaCar!

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Lessons From the Bus: Don’t Talk to Strangers, Talk to Neighbors

A fellow WithOutaCar shares sentiment I relate to!

amemoryleak

“I hope you have mace,” he told me.
I laughed nervously.
“Thank you for looking out for me,” I said, “but I think he just wanted to talk.”
“You better hope he just wanted to talk.”
A pulse of fear ran through me for a moment at that statement.
I was on the bus and the man speaking to me had just observed a conversation between me and another young man waiting for the bus.

View original post 475 more words

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Making Parking Scarce and Expensive ….

….is the best way to encourage people to walk, take transit and ride bicycles. Thank you, Matthew, for your speaking into what many of us also believe. I am shamelessly re-posting this because it resonates with me and so many. I hope readers will also click on the link to read about how even in cities with extensive transit systems, getting around by transit will not get you around faster than a car

By Guest Columnist MATTHEW GARBETT, a community activist who lives in Atlanta’s Adair Park

As I talk to Atlantans about transit, walkability, and parking – especially parking – I am often confronted with what I have come to call the “Tipping Point Theory of Transit.”

The theory, often summarized with a simple “We’re not there yet”, goes like this:

MARTA is a bare bones system that doesn’t go anywhere, and where it does go, it goes slowly. If we keep building the BeltLine, expanding the Streetcar, and growing MARTA, one day there will come a Tipping Point, when people will begin abandoning their cars for our finally completed system. Until we get there, however, we need to recognize reality and continue to build for cars, especially via parking.

It’s a great theory, and even better politics. We can support transit while pushing the difficult decisions off to the future. Unfortunately, it’s not true. As long as we keep building our city for cars, no matter how much transit or BeltLine we overlay on the city, we will continue to drive for the vast majority of trips.

Matthew Garbett

At some point we will need to choose to make driving more costly. The easiest and most efficient way to do so, with the most benefits, is to dramatically reduce the amount of parking while increasing its cost.

The biggest mistake in the “Tipping Point Theory” is that the key to getting people out of their cars is to make riding transit easier. Easier than what, though? To be appealing to most “choice riders” – those who have access to a car – transit or walking do not need to be easier than they currently are; they need to be easier than driving a car.

Even in cities with extensive transit systems, getting around by transit will not get you around faster than a car.

We’re rational beings, and on a per-trip basis, cars are quicker. Fundamentally, riding transit consists of walking – up to half a mile often, waiting, riding, waiting, riding, and then walking again – often up to half a mile.

When you can step outside, hop in your car, drive, park for free, and be at your destination, which would most people choose?

It’s no surprise that in a comprehensive study of light rail systems built over the last 30 years, the number one factor correlating with reduced ridership was the availability of cheap or free parking along the route. Why ride when it’s easier to drive?

Read the full post…

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