Are Driverless Cars and Complete Streets on a Collision Course?

David Alpert tamps down the recent enthusiasm for the coming age of the self-driving car by asking what its impact will be on pedestrians and street life.
March 8, 2012, 5am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Reacting to a recent story by Emily Badger on the expected efficiencies to be gained by the automation of driving, and a thrillingly elegant simulation of free-flowing traffic at a signal-less intersection, Alpert frets for the pedestrian. Where in that elegant symphony of 24 lanes of seamless traffic is someone supposed to cross the street, or enjoy a stroll?

"Driverless cars, therefore, are poised to trigger a whole new round of pressure to further redesign intersections for the throughput of vehicles above all else..." laments Alpert, "If autonomous cars travel much faster than today's cars and operate closer to other vehicles and obstacles, as we see in the Texas team's simulation, then they may well kill more pedestrians."

While excited about the potential benefits of driverless cars, Alpert anxiously wonders about the dividend for all those liberated from driving.

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Published on Monday, March 5, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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