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✊🏙 Positive aspects of e-bikes 🚲 Apple's ‘town square’ ambitions 🍎 Resignation hits Sidewalk Toronto 👋

Hey urbanists, A bit of a long issue this week looking at e-bikes, Apple stores, and a high-profile r
October 7 · Issue #54 · View online
Radical Urbanist
Hey urbanists,
A bit of a long issue this week looking at e-bikes, Apple stores, and a high-profile resignation over Google’s “smart city” project in Toronto, so I’ll keep the intro short. I recommend looking at that third story, especially if smart cities are of interest to you. Public opinion in Toronto has shifted Google’s project over the past year — and for good reason.
Have a great Sunday, and don’t forget to check out the other reads near the end.

Should we welcome e-bikes?
As dockless bike and scooter services invade Western cities, e-bikes are becoming more common. Should they be welcomed, or shunned?
A prominent cycling advocate was criticized in July for calling e-bikes “white-privilege gadgets,” but there are a lot of reasons that they may play an important role in the future of urban mobility.
Auckland University’s Kirsty Wild says that walkers will travel about 3km, cyclists about 5km, but people using e-bikes will go up to 15km per trip because they go faster and they’re not as demanding as a regular bike. Plus, women are more likely to use e-bikes: just 20% of regular cyclists are women, 27% of those using Auckland’s Northwestern cycleway, but 41% of e-cyclists.
A story in The Guardian also recently profiled disabled cyclists in Cambridge and explained why bikes (sometimes specially configured) can be a great mobility option for disabled people. It’s not hard to imagine how e-bikes might make mobility even easier for disabled people and seniors, as well, by reducing the amount of energy that will need to be exerted to use them.
And let’s not forget that not only is cycling cheaper for the individual, but it also benefits society by reducing the money that cities have to spend maintaining and supporting automobility.
Apple wants to become the town square
In 2016, Apple started renovating some of its flagship stores to reflect its new “town square” concept to make them not just commercial spaces, but meeting places where people could go spend time and take classes. But do we really want the world’s first trillion-dollar public company controlling public space?
As part of this push, Apple is trying to place its stores in even more historical buildings and popular gathering spaces. Angela Ahrendts, the executive in charge of its stores, likes to cite Starbucks as an example of how private companies can become meeting places, but admission comes at a price.
A new piece on Curbed takes an in-depth look at the company’s retail ambitions and the new store it will soon be opening in the Carnegie Library in Washington, DC. I also previously wrote a piece on the same topic, but my focus was on the backlash to proposed stores in Melbourne’s Federation Square and Stockholm’s Kungsträdgården.
Resignation hits Sidewalk Toronto project
On Thursday, Saadia Muzaffar, co-founder of Tech Reset Canada, resigned from Waterfront Toronto’s Digital Strategy Advisory Panel citing its failure to address fundamental issues with the Sidewalk Toronto project. Criticism of the partnership with Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs to develop a “smart city” neighborhood on Toronto’s waterfront has been growing steadily over the past few months, and hopefully Muzaffar’s resignation will finally force Waterfront Toronto and the City to address it.
Muzaffar’s resignation letter is worth a read.
There is nothing innovative about city-building that disenfranchises its residents in insidious ways and robs valuable earnings out of public budgets, or commits scarce public funds to the ongoing maintenance of technology that city leadership has not even declared a need for.
In the aftermath, other advisors spoke out in support of Muzaffar and the criticisms she leveled at Sidewalk Toronto. Jim Balsillie, former CEO of Blackberry, also penned an op-ed on Friday in which he echoed Muzaffar’s concerns and expanded on Waterfront Toronto’s failures.
It’s absolutely clear that Google wants to integrate its tech into urban infrastructure, but that doesn’t mean residents need to hand their cities to the massive tech giants and let them do whatever they want. Indeed, in Toronto there is a growing movement to get governments to develop their own tech instead of outsourcing that task to tech monopolies. Here’s hoping they succeed.
Other great reads
📈 The UN says 55% of people live in urban areas; the European Commission says it’s 85%. Who’s right?
🗳 Quebec’s new right-wing, pro-highway government could cause problems for Montreal’s desire to add a new metro line and improve its transit system
🇸🇪 Dockless bikes and scooters are poised to invade Stockholm. VOI claims 30,000 users made 35,000 scooter trips in its first three weeks.
🛴 Lime will soon launch scooters in New Zealand; Bird will do the same in Mexico City and Brazil
🔒 New US voluntary standards for self-driving car makers allow them to keep safety records private
🇮🇩 Jakarta, Indonesia could implement road pricing in 2019
🇨🇦 “Discrimination is not at the same level as in the United States, but that doesn’t make it any better for those who face that problem here.” Segregation is a problem in Toronto too.
🇳🇴 Oslo’s initial plan to ban cars was met with backlash. Instead, it raised congestion fees and slowly removed on-street parking — and it’s working
📸 The most cost-effective bus-lane enforcement? Cameras that issue hefty fines.
🚇 Expert panel recommends Paris not make public transit free
🚅 Who needs Hyperloops and short-haul flights when you can have trains that go 600km/h?
🇫🇷 France is increasing driving fines and reducing speed limits
✊️❤️ Thanks for reading. You can follow me on TwitterMedium, or Instagram for even more!
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