The possible effects of driverless cars on cities

With the advent of driverless cars, here is one take on how they might transform city spaces:

Inner-city parking lots could become parks. Traffic lights could be less common because hidden sensors in cars and streets coordinate traffic. And, yes, parking tickets could become a rarity since cars would be smart enough to know where they are not supposed to be…

That city of the future could have narrower streets because parking spots would no longer be necessary. And the air would be cleaner because people would drive less. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 30 percent of driving in business districts is spent in a hunt for a parking spot, and the agency estimates that almost one billion miles of driving is wasted that way every year…

“The future city is not going to be a congestion-free environment. That same prediction was made that cars would free cities from the congestion of horses on the street,” said Bryant Walker Smith, a fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School and a member of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford. “You have to build the sewer system to accommodate the breaks during the Super Bowl; it won’t be as pretty as we’re envisioning.”

Mr. Smith has an alternative vision of the impact of automated cars, which he believes are inevitable. Never mind that nice city center. He says that driverless cars will allow people to live farther from their offices and that the car could become an extension of home.

Interesting suggestions. Would sprawl be even more acceptable to people if they didn’t have to do the driving themselves? Pair this with the idea that there is a near endless supply of oil/gas and sprawl might be around a lot longer. I wonder if this would also lead to more cars overall and an uptick in miles driven per year, a figure that has been relatively flat in recent years.

But, I think this article doesn’t go far enough in reimagining cities with a major transportation change. Where would parking be consolidated? How might this change how buildings are designed? Are we imagining some sort of Le Corbusier world with large buildings surrounded by parks, a more New Urbanist design with plenty of dense neighborhoods where cars stay toward the outside, or something else all together?

h/t Instapundit

One thought on “The possible effects of driverless cars on cities

  1. Pingback: A country of roving electric car fleets | Legally Sociable

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