Laurafox 2016S Embed

A 'better car' is not the answer

Laura Fox

Citi Bike, Lyft


Over the last 50 years, climate emissions have more than doubled globally, and we’re seeing the consequences - for example, extreme weather disasters (from drought to extreme temperatures) have increased 5X over the same period.
But why is urban mobility specifically important to solve for?
Transportation remains the largest source of emissions in the U.S., and the fastest growing source of emissions globally (increasing more than 70% since 1990, while emissions from many other sectors declined over the same period). And it’s not just about climate change; the way we currently get from point A to point B is hurting economic productivity. Congestion costs cities like NYC nearly $34B in lost wages annually, and 48% of car trips in the most congested cities are less than 3 miles, a trip length that could be served much more efficiently. And, those short trips are likely to only increase with COVID-related changes to work, when many folks aren’t commuting as frequently.
And a “better individually-owned car” won’t save us. The same car size with an electric battery doesn’t solve urban congestion (favorite illustrations here and here), and big EVs can only reduce emissions from a standard gas-powered car by 50% (compared to an ebike at 92%). And, there are alot of dependencies there: (1) how “clean” the grid is, and (2) grid capacity. For example, it’s estimated that upgrading the grid in the U.S. to support EVs will cost $125B; currently $5B is dedicated to this work in the U.S.’s largest infrastructure bill in decades.
What can “save” our cities and planet? A range of innovative urban mobility solutions across infrastructure and products, for people, businesses, and government, and from micromobility to transit. 
In this talk, I’ll introduce a framework for investing in - and working on - “urban mobility as climate tech” called MORE (maintain, offer, rebuild, enable) that accounts for the layered, complex nature of cities. And, I'll highlight a range of global startups to successful case studies like Citi Bike that bring to life these ideas.
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