- Twenty-two cities have joined the second year of Transportation for America’s Smart Cities Collaborative to work together and find ways to handle the rise of autonomous vehicles (AVs), deal with concerns around preemptive laws at the federal level and work with private mobility companies that provide transportation services.
- More than 50 cities applied to join, and of those accepted into the program, 12 were part of last year’s inaugural cohort of cities. Last year’s group tackled challenges related to AVs, shared mobility and how to use data to manage complex transportation networks.
- The 22 participating cities are: Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Boulder, CO; Centennial, CO; Gainesville, FL; Houston, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Los Angeles, CA; Madison, WI; Miami-Dade, FL; Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; Santa Monica, CA; Seattle, WA; Toronto, ON; Washington, DC; and West Sacramento, CA.
Industry experts and city leaders have noted issues facing urban areas do not respect jurisdictional boundaries and can often have knock-on effects in neighboring communities. It is noteworthy that some cities in this year's cohort are close together geographically, as they can continue to work together. "The Collaborative is a terrific venue for cities to work cooperatively, share our thinking, and develop solutions to our common challenges," Evan Corey Costagliola, New Mobility Program Manager at the Seattle Department of Transportation, said in a statement.
As well as discussing how to handle the proliferation of AVs on their streets, perhaps one of the biggest issues facing the cities in the collective is the role of Congress. The US House of Representatives passed the SELF DRIVE Act on a voice vote, but similar legislation in the US Senate – the AV START Act – appears to have stalled.
US Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, was one of five Senators to send a letter last month expressing concerns around the safety of AVs. And with the recent death in Tempe, AZ of a woman hit by an AV, there is always a possibility lawmakers will take further action.
Group representatives will meet for the first time in Denver on April 16-17, with organizers promising "a variety of interactive workshops, both with each other and with industry-leading transportation experts. From there, the participants will receive direct technical assistance and share the results of their projects with the rest of the Collaborative to drive best practices across the country." And as cities look to work with the business community and academia and such partnerships continue to blossom, it will be interesting to see what this collaborative comes up with.