The Third Transportation Revolution
John Zimmer

Re: Lyft’s vision of how our cities should be

Although I assume one of John Zimmer’s PR people wrote the piece on “The Third Transportation Revolution” (see link above), I’m willing to assume it really is his aspiration to make it happen. My question is, what are the knock-on effects of this sort of transformation (and does John Zimmer ever think about them)?

In a nutshell, Zimmer is the CEO of Lyft, a ride-sharing company which is essentially like Uber and which, like Uber, is getting involved in the field of self-driving cars and thinking about what that means for inner-city transportation. Zimmer paints a pretty picture; he argues that the space and the resources which could be saved if people no longer owned cars could be put to use for nicer purposes like creating more parks. I totally agree. Nevertheless, there is a related question which I feel Zimmer evades: What are all the people employed by the car industry or as taxi drivers going to do?

I totally agree that we need to make drastic changes to minimise our negative effects on the environment and that cities should be built around people, not cars — but what are the people going to do? I have my ideas and the universal basic income movement certainly has their ideas. There are certainly plenty of good answers to this question! What troubles me is that the people who have the power to kick off ‘revolutions’ in our society are not necessarily the ones who consider these questions and the impacts of their actions. Let’s be honest, Zimmer might be into the idea of building a nicer future — but he’s definitely keen on the idea of earning a lot of money from shaping the future and so long as that goal is achieved, he’ll be happy. If his dream becomes reality and we make way more space for parks in the city in future — but these parks are full of homeless people sleeping in them because they can no longer find a job to finance an apartment, I wager to say that Zimmer’s comment will be, “Whoops, didn’t see that one coming! Sorry!” … Full stop.

That’s what troubles me. I might be doing Zimmer an injustice and his PR people actually censored anything critical or reflective in his article before they put it online. To be sure, asking these sorts of questions is certainly uncomfortable — but that doesn’t make it unnecessary.