It was a humid, overcast day in Miami, and I needed to get from the city’s crowded downtown to the trendy, mural-splashed neighborhood of Wynwood. I pulled out my phone, tapped an app, and hailed a self-driving car. A few minutes later, a Ford Fusion crowned with cameras and high-powered sensors crawled up to the curb. The street sign above me read “No Parking: Autonomous Vehicles Only.” Good thing: I got in, buckled up, and away we went.
WASHINGTON — The advent of ride-booking (or “ride-sharing”) services, such as Lyft and Uber, has revolutionized how people earn money and, of course, how they get from point A to point B.
The answers, unfortunately, are not abundantly clear: Child-restraint guidelines vary nationwide.
“It can be a challenge to figure out what the rules are for transporting kids in a ride-share vehicle, as the laws vary from state to state,” said Justin Owens, a research scientist at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s Center for Vulnerable Road User Safety.
“Where the confusion comes in is that in most of those states, it is unclear whether those laws also include ride-share vehicles — if ride shares are counted as taxis or not.”
The District is designating curbside space for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft at locations across the city — an effort to reduce the number of vehicles that stop to pick up and drop off passengers in bike lanes, crosswalks and travel lanes.
The District Department of Transportation is adding the pickup and drop-off zones at five entertainment hot spots where visitors are dependent on the services to get around. Those sites are the nightlife hub of 14th and U streets, the National Zoo and Georgetown in Northwest, the Wharf waterfront development in Southwest and Union Market in Northeast.
The 24-hour-a-day zones will also be used for commercial loading, officials said. They are expected to go live later this year, following a public comment period and the installation of signs.
Electric cars hit a new global sales record in 2017 — 1 million cars sold, with more than half of that in China — but there may be a hitch to mass adoption: the number of adequate charging stations available. Before consumers take the plunge on a new electric car, they need to know that they can charge it.
The number of electric charging stations in the US is small but growing. As of September 2018, there are an estimated 22,000 public charging stations in the US and Canada that are classified as level 2 and DC fast charging. (Typically, fast-charging stations supply 60 to 80 miles of range for every 20 minutes of charging.) By comparison, there are seven times more gas stations: about 168,000, according to FuelEconomy.gov.
Jaguar, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benzare all launching high-profile electric cars in 2019, and practically every major automaker is staking its future on lineups of fully electric vehicles. The rapid decrease in the price of batteries — more than 70 percent between 2008 and 2014 — and the introduction of more mass-market EVs is certainly encouraging some consumers to consider switching to electric. If these cars are going to be successful, though, drivers have to know they can recharge them.
Uber announced a slew of new safety features Wednesday intended to give both riders and drivers peace of mind when using the app.
The biggest change is a system called “Ride Check.”
Uber says it’s an extension of the GPS system that tracks riders and drivers within the app — only now, it will be leveraged to detect possible crashes and anomalies such as unusually long waits. The system will send an alert to both the rider and driver asking whether there’s an issue, and give them the option to contact authorities or reach Uber’s safety line.
Uber says the feature is tuned to “flag trip irregularities beyond crashes that might, in some rare cases, indicate an increased safety risk.”