Driverless Cars Steer Us Away From a Carless Future

Discussions over the potential benefits and drawbacks of driverless cars seemingly overlook one important question, says Allison Arieff: "[W]hy continue to design and plan for a car-based society?"
July 29, 2013, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Many experts, from architects to automobile executives, predict the ascendancy of the autonomous vehicle within three generations," writes Arieff. "Allstate is preparing actuarial tables; Ford, BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan, among other car manufacturers, in an unusual shift toward long-term planning, are seeing the writing on the wall and have developed working prototypes."

"Self-driving cars seemed futurist a century ago; today, it seems out of touch to focus on cars at all," she observes. "Americans are buying fewer cars, driving less and getting fewer licenses as each year goes by. Rates of car ownership are decreasing. Bikeshare, rideshare and carshare programs are gaining in popularity and acceptance, as are transit-oriented communities."

"By becoming so enamored with how technology might transform the car, we’ve neglected to adequately explore how getting rid of cars might transform how and where we live."

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Published on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 in The New York Times
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