Sidewalks and Footpaths 'Functionally Obsolete' in the Near Transportation Future

With so much attention devoted to how technology will change roadways and vehicles, less speculation has attended to the ways technology will change walking.
July 14, 2018, 9am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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U.S. Department of Agriculture

"In the future, footpaths may remain physically similar, made of asphalt, concrete, or brick, but how they are used, and what we know about how they are used, will change – if change isn’t already afoot," according to an article by David Levinson.

Levinson, who usually blogs at Transportist, commences the analysis at the curb. As already playing out in U.S. cities, transportation network companies and self-driving cars will add to the number of pick-ups and drop-offs along curbs. "These uses are prescribed by regulations but there is a strong argument to be made that many of these regulations are poorly applied, or no longer appropriate given changing patterns of use and demand," writes Levinson, also citing the work of Coord in developing a cloud-based system to bring some structure to the chaos. 

Levinson's analysis also gets into the proliferation of new forms of mobility like e-bikes, electric scooters, and delivery robots—all jockeying for position on sidewalks. All this analysis leads Levinson to the conclusion that the humble footpath is "functionally obsolete" in the face of these coming technological advancements.

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Published on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 in Foreground
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