New Report: Rethinking Streets in an Era of Driverless Cars

"Rethinking Streets in an Era of Driverless Cars" presents ideas about how city planners, policy makers and community residents can begin thinking about street transformation in an AV era.

February 1, 2018, 7:00 AM PST

By schlossb


Melpomene / Shutterstock

The next wave of transportation technology is coming quickly—the autonomous vehicle (AV) or driverless car. As a new transportation technology, AVs are likely to disrupt long-established patterns of urban development, transportation choices and the use of streets. This is the moment for all levels of government to revisit the fundamental purposes of transportation, to take stock of our transportation systems and policies, and attempt to do transportation better. In particular, autonomous vehicles present new and unique opportunities for fresh thinking about how streets are used—by whom, how, and to what ends.

This newly released, and highly accessible, paper shows how planners and policymakers can seize the potential of autonomous vehicles to rethink streets and accelerate a transformation of the public right of way to better public use. Autonomous vehicles offer an entry point into society-wide conversations about transportation, the functions of cities, the use of streets, and how all this impacts equity, environment, social cohesion, happiness, economic health, resiliency, and more.

Cities wield the power—most critically, by regulating one of their largest assets, the street—to channel this disruption in support of wider social, environmental and economic goals. The choices that cities make over the coming years will set the terms of the sustainable transportation debate and establish priorities and practices of society for generations to come.

This new report is available as a free download as a part of the Urbanism Next research series. Urbanism Next is an initiative of the University of Oregon's Sustainable Cities Initiative (SCI) that focuses on how autonomous vehicles, e-commerce, and the sharing economy will influence the form and function of cities, or the "secondary effects" of these technologies on how and where we live.

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