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Peter Calthorpe's Self-Driving Car Dissent

The founder of New Urbanism takes his autonomous vehicle skepticism, and ideas for other solutions to congestion, to the pages of the New York Times.
November 5, 2018, 10am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Automated Vehicles

"Peter Calthorpe thinks Silicon Valley has it all wrong," writes John Markoff for the New York Times. "He rejects the ideas of tech industry visionaries who say personal autonomous vehicles will soon be the solution to urban problems like traffic congestion."

Calthorpe, famous in planning circles as one of the founders of New Urbanism, is adding his voice to a growing chorus of skepticism on the likelihood that self-driving cars are capable of delivering some of the benefits promised by boosters of the technology.

“One thing is certain: Zero- or single-occupant vehicles,” even ones that can drive themselves, “are a bad thing,” he and the transportation planner Jerry Walters wrote in an article last year in Urban Land, an urban planning journal. “They cause congestion, eat up energy, exacerbate sprawl and emit more carbon per passenger-mile.”

Instead of a self-driving car status quo that merely exacerbates the current auto-congested status quo, Calthorpe is promoting ideas, explained in more detail in the article, that evolve the concept of transit oriented development.

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Published on Saturday, October 27, 2018 in The New York Times
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