Greg Lindsay's Blog

January 01, 2020  |  permalink

New London Architecture: Future Streets


New London Architecture — a museum of sorts and think-tank concerned with the urban realm of London — has published a report to coincide with its current exhibit on “Future Streets.” I’m grateful to be one of the many smart people consulted as part of the research, and gratified to see a few of my arguments made it into the final draft. To save you the time of searching, I’ve cut-and-pasted them below. The first concerns my long-standing worries ride-hailing will cannibalize transit:

Perhaps the most concerning threat Uber poses is its potential to undercut public transport in London. Some early research from the US suggests that TNCs are moving trips away from public transport, walking and cycling to rideshare services.20 However, another study conducted in London showed that Uber was actually complementing the introduction of the Night Tube. This was on the basis that more Uber trips were being taken from tube stations during ‘Night Tube’ hours, indicating that instead of taking a cab home the whole way, people were now using the Night Tube for most of the journey, and then transferring to an Uber for the last mile.

However, the recent IPO released by Uber states in no uncertain terms that they see public transport as a key competitor and that public transport riders are a key part of the market they seek to win over. Greg Lindsay, director of applied research, NewCities, argues that this should come as no surprise, given that TNCs such as Uber are only profitable in highly dense urban contexts such as central London. He argues that in lower density areas Uber still has to highly subsidise all journeys.

The second involves fears of “privatizing the streets:”

Even if road pricing is effectively implemented for CAVs, Greg Lindsay argues that it potentially puts in motion a dangerous precedent in which every inch of street space is progressively adopted into a market system for the pricing of its use. It is contended that such a model may lead to the unintended consequences of the complete privatisation of all street space in the city. This would contradict the idea that the street is the most radically democratic of all spaces in the city. Moreover, Greg Lindsay notes that it may lead to situations where only companies with greater purchasing power are able to afford the cost of operating on the streets, thus creating a monopoly of service. This might mean that one ridesharing company becomes entirely dominant and therefore able to set the price of rides as they wish.

You can download the entire report here.


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Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is the director of applied research at NewCities and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot CoMotion.  He is also a partner at FutureMap, a geo-strategic advisory firm based in Singapore, a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.

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