PhD Candidate, MIT Department of Urban Studies & Planning, Co-founder LivableStreets Alliance
Topic: Will we shape the impact of new transportation technology or will we let the technology shape us? Will we repeat history or learn from it?
It is impossible to conceive of a modern world without the automobile. It is so entrenched in all daily experiences even for those who don’t drive regularly but cross streets on foot or sit in a bus stuck in traffic. We have permanently altered the physical landscape with roadway and parking infrastructure, and significant suburban development patterns, that have proven very difficult to reverse. But we as a society were steadfast as we cleared away the obstacles of progress (namely people, neighborhoods, and nature). In retrospect, should we have been more thoughtful about the implications of mass automobility on society and been more proactive with policy? Now, seemingly out of nowhere, the potential for commercially viable autonomous vehicles has been thrust upon us. Mobility service providers, technology manufacturers, government policy-makers, academics, and civil society advocates are now scrambling to understand and prepare for all aspects of its implementation. We are collectively at serious risk, though, of repeating mistakes of the past.
Jeff Rosenblum is a PhD candidate at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, studying the role of advocacy on government policy making and issues of equity and justice in evaluating the accessibility provided by urban transportation systems. He is conducting a randomized control trial study in the Boston area to investigate the impact of providing subsidized fares to low-income transit riders, collecting daily travel diary information using an automated texting ChatBot. He is currently teaching a class in Land Use & Transportation at MIT, and co-teaches “Sustainable Transportation Planning,” a summer course held at TU-Delft in the Netherlands through Northeastern University. In 2004, Jeff co-founded LivableStreets Alliance, an urban planning transportation nonprofit advocating for better transit, walking, and biking and served as Executive Director until 2007. He then worked for the City of Cambridge until 2014 managing large street redesign projects, coordinating regional planning efforts, and launching a transit planning practice within the city. He has participated in the Bicycle Subcommittee of the National Committee on MUTCD and has been active with NACTO. He has served on MassDOT’s Transportation Advisory Board and Boston's Complete Streets Advisory Committee. Prior to founding LivableStreets, Jeff worked on sustainable development projects in Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East, and is a former researcher for the Business & Sustainability group at Tellus Institute. Jeff holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering and Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.