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The Mountain West Gathers at Gig Con 2023
Revel heads west, NYC sharpens sporks, downtown drifts
Curbivore and The Rideshare Guy are proud to support Gig Con 2023, August 4th & 5th in Denver, Colorado. This unique community event brings together the leaders and hard working personnel powering the delivery and mobility revolutions throughout the Mountain West, and nationwide.
Join State Representative & Transportation Committee Member Stephanie Vigil, founders and execs from Solo, Para, Dumpling, Curri, Stoovo and Moves, as well as advocates from the Drivers’ Rights Movements, transportation unions, prominent gig work Youtubers and hundreds of delivery / mobility app leaders and the gig workers that make their businesses possible. Registration now available.
Select sponsorship packages are still available. Reach out today to ensure your brand is well represented at Gig Con 2023.
HOT INDUSTRY NEWS & GOSSIP
Delivery bots profitable? Those sidewalk servin’ robots are proving to be a viable business, as both Cartken and Starship are now in-the-black in select markets (and a third startup has whispered to us they are as well, but they’re not ready to make the news public.) Adding to the week’s fun: Refraction AI is expanding its partnership with Chick-fil-A, a fast food purveyor known to be so popular it jams up traffic. And Starship is the first PDD player to work with fellow Estonian Bolt, Europe’s scrappy alternative for ridehail and food delivery.
Let’s get physical: Virtual kitchens have taken a battering as of late, notably last week’s dismembering of Nextbite. This week it’s VDC that’s in the hot seat, as the company’s star brand (and arguably the most popular virtual restaurant industry-wide) MrBeast Burger was publicly disowned by figurehead MrBeast. He’s since walked back some of the tweets (nondisparagement clause, anyone?) but his complaint struck at a consistent issue for the industry: managing quality across disparate kitchens with varying level of training and buy-in. Another issue is that while these brands soared during lockdowns, these days folks are hungry for in-person experiences (perhaps the same reason the metaverse is struggling…)
This one’s for you curb nerds… Open Plans just released a must-read analysis of the curb management policies in 12 cities nationwide. If they can innovate in Omaha, surely you can make it work in your town as well! (Also maybe it’s time we collectively retire the “chaos” and “curb” alliteration.)
“Go West, young man” - Looks like we’ve scooped this story: Revel is plotting its SoCal launch. The company is on the hunt for a “Design Project Manager” and a “Acquisition Manager, Energy & EV Infrastructure” in Los Angeles, as the company looks to put the $176 million it raised last year to good work. Folks might recall that Revel has gone through a few pivots — moped sharing, EV sharing, ebike rentals — but its DC fast charge network seems to be the company’s long term play.
How safe are your streets? New analysis from StreetLight charts the distribution of average speeds in major cities. Slower streets are not only safer, they’re of course more economically vibrant as they’re conducive to outdoor dining and street life. The real question is what do these numbers look like when you aggregate entire metro areas, and how much is due to policy versus just congestion…
Prime’d: An FTC lawsuit alleges that Amazon duped millions of consumers into enrolling into its Prime service, and then made opting out so difficult that internally it was referred to as the “Iliad.” If the Feds win this case, expect a not insignificant decline in delivery traffic…
Carrot, meet stick: NYC is advancing its plans to cut down on delivery waste, as it recommends that restaurateurs and 3PDs be fined up to $250 if they include utensils and condiments in orders where customers had opted-out. Businesses still have about a year where they’ll only receive a warning, it’s July of 2024 when the sporks really get sharpened.
Superblocks head to SoCal: Barcelona has garnered praise for its “superblock” system that directs car traffic out of neighborhoods and repurposes interior roadways for city living. Now L.A. wants to give it a try, with Councilor Kevil de León championing a “park block” for his district. Given the city’s habit of deferring to councilors on transportation and land use decisions, this increases the odds of something actually getting built, as KDL shows no signs of stepping down. Quick - which of the two photos below is SoCal, and which is Barcelona? (Don’t cheat and try to read the map text; answer is at bottom of newsletter.)
What is Wonder? Marc Lore’s well-funded delivery startup continues to shift gears. First it gave up cooking in trucks, then it pivoted to operating elevated food courts in affluent markets. Now it appears to be going all-in on memberships, where customers can get free delivery or prioritized pickup.
Housing policy is climate policy: Fast growing Austin just hit a record “feels like” heat index of 118 degrees. Every house not built on the coasts means another family baking in the Southern sun. And every day Austin kicks the can on its transportation plans, those bus stops get more sweltering. 118 degrees, we can just feel the acoustic guitars and wide brimmed felt hats melting…
Hyper local: It’s no longer good enough to deliver to a specific address, now you need to get accuracy down to the atomic level. Domino’s is rolling out “pinpoint delivery” on the promise that you can now get your pizza delivered to an address-free beach, campground, or public park. (Notably the example photo shows someone getting Domino’s in Prospect Park, which would not be out first choice for pizza in Brooklyn…)
Parking poor, money rich: A new report on “America's Urban Future, Post-Pandemic” is full of useful data on the diverging prospects of various American metro areas both pre and post pandemic. One chart that caught our eye: more economically productive cities don’t festoon their downtowns with asphalt parking lots.
What do you call four monorails? Bangkok has long had a famously puny mass transit system, especially compared to peer Asian cities. They’ve slowly been rectifying that, with a mix of heavy rail, light metros, express trains and monorails. This week the Yellow Line, the first of four planned monorails, officially opened. Adjusted for purchasing power, the construction cost works out to about $145.9 per kilometer.
Downtowns on the move: Greater Greater Washington shares the story of how DC’s downtown has drifted a mile or so west in the past century, due to a mix of shifting preferences and biased urban planning. The same patterns can be seen in downtowns across the country: in Philly it’s drifted from east to west of City Hall; in LA it’s climbed Bunker Hill; in Manhattan it’s leaned from the East River side to the Hudson side. Not to mention the rise of new centers that eclipse the economic importance of “downtown” as a whole: Midtown Manhattan, West LA, the towns dotting SF’s peninsula. We used to build infrastructure that kept up with these changes, now we use zoning to try to lock cities in amber…
Buses & The City: Friend of the curb Matthew Daus is hosting a great looking event for the transport sector: “Buses & the City: The Future of the Motor Coach Industry.” East coast Curbivores should stop by on June 27th to hear from the BUS4NYC Coalition, the Bar Transportation Law Committee, and a mix of EV charging, congestion pricing and mobility hub experts.
Connecting the Dots in Delivery: Not in NYC? Instead tune in to “Connecting the Dots in Delivery - Charting the future of Delivery as a Service" featuring yours truly, Joyride’s Andrew Miles and Whizz’s Ksenia Proka. Airs 10 AM PT on 7/18, register now.
A few more links: RTO enters “desperation phase” - let’s stop kidding ourselves, they’re not coming back. British hospitality giant invests in 12 “street food” startups. You love to see it: Santa Monica’s extrusion machine installs 3,000 feet of concrete-protected bike lane in one day. You hate to see it: some parts of Southern Brooklyn haven’t gotten a new bike lane in 129 years. Teamsters authorize strike, but inch closer to deal with UPS. Arrivederci - Uber Eats pulls out of Italy. MD Governor Wes Moore revives Red Line transit project killed by Republican predecessor (elections matter!) Cincinnati explores streetcar extension. Automated bus stop enforcement finally comes to California. New Yorkers rally to fix McGuinness Blvd. In not shocking news - 92% of restaurants support delivery fee caps. More of this please: JOCO and Grubhub open delivery worker rest area. About a million dollars per foot.
Photo quiz answer: The beautiful mixed-use pedestrian paradise on the left is Irvine, California; the highway-scarred single family home hellscape on the right is Barcelona. ¡Maldito!
Until next week!
- Jonah Bliss & The Curbivore Crew
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