Dani Simons runs the Waze for Cities program. Most people probably think of Waze as a navigation app, but it also has partnerships with 1000+ public agencies who are using community-driven data and programs to address mobility, sustainability, and equity challenges. One of Dani’s favorite parts is Waze Carpool. Before she joined Waze, Dani worked for Motivate (the largest bike share provider in the US, recently acquired by Lyft). Citi Bike helped make biking more mainstream and cool. You could see people riding in suits or high heels (or both) through midtown Manhattan and Dani thinks Waze Carpool can do the same thing for carpooling.
What brought you to TDM/how did you get involved in the field?
I’ve been working in sustainable transportation since I graduated college with a degree in environmental science. Right out of the gate I became an Americorp*VISTA member, working on a greenway project in Providence, RI. It was supposed to provide transportation and recreation to a very low income community. I learned so much from that experience about the relationship between transportation, economic opportunity, social justice and public health. I do what I do because I believe the way we build our communities and move around them is key to protecting our planet and also ensuring that more people have a chance to lead happy, successful lives.
Why did you get involved in ACT?
The IPCC report that came out last year says we have a very, very short window to act before we’ve put so much greenhouse gas into the air that our planet becomes inhospitable for humans. We need to keep building more transit and passing better zoning codes, but those things take time. We’ve also got to get better and faster at applying any means we have to reduce single-occupancy vehicle tripstoday. And we can only do that together. I think ACT plays an important role as a convener and a catalyst for all of us.
Within your work, what do you see as the future opportunities/challenges for TDM?
Vehicle miles traveled continues to increase in the US despite the rise of a lot of new services that make it easier to not own your own car for short trips. I think there’s still a need to provide better options for people with longer trips. And we need policies that make it less attractive for people to take these trips by car. New York is implementing congestion pricing (and other cities like Seattle, L.A. and San Francisco are actively exploring it). Many cities are trying to tackle parking pricing. We need to help support and accelerate these efforts.