Planning for the Autonomous Future

With some historical perspective, transportation planners and policymakers can avoid the mistakes of the past and develop a transportation system that acknowledges the needs of all road users.

1 minute read

November 12, 2023, 5:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

In a commentary published on Route Fifty, Kevin DeGood calls for “a balanced transportation system that also accommodates pedestrians, transit riders and cyclists” as autonomous vehicles become more commonplace on U.S. streets.

While the debate on when autonomous cars will be fully ready for self-driving operations rages on, DeGood argues that now is the time for policymakers to avoid heading “down a path that deepens our dependence on cars at the expense of sustainable, affordable and equitable alternatives such as public transportation, biking and walking.”

The article names several studies of autonomous vehicle technology that fail to include pedestrians, or even pedestrian infrastructure, in their assessments of self-driving vehicle safety. “And that’s the problem. The infrastructure we build today and how we program AVs will shape our lives and communities for generations to come.”

In the early 20th century, when cars were first introduced, policies led to “a transportation system dominated by driving” and laser-focused on moving cars, fast. DeGood warns that “Accommodating pedestrians, transit riders and cyclists cannot be an afterthought. Communities and transportation systems must be built around people, not motor vehicles. A transportation system that only makes room for sophisticated AVs is a system and a future not worth having.”

Wednesday, November 8, 2023 in Route Fifty

Rendering of electric scooters, electric cars, light rail train, and apartments in background.

Arizona’s ‘Car-Free’ Community Takes Shape

Culdesac Tempe has been welcoming residents since last year.

February 14, 2024 - The Cool Down

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

"It's The Climate" sign over street in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Oregon Town Seeks Funding for Ambitious Resilience Plan

Like other rural communities, Grants Pass is eager to access federal funding aimed at sustainability initiatives, but faces challenges when it comes to meeting grant requirements.

February 18, 2024 - The Daily Yonder

Close-up of bottom half of stroller being pushed onto sidewalk with no curb cut by person in jeans and brown shoes.

How Infrastructure Communicates Values

The presence and quality of sidewalks, curb cuts, and other basic elements of infrastructure can speak to much more than just economic decisions.

February 23 - Strong Towns

Greyhound and Amtrak buses at a temporary bus terminal in San Francisco, California.

Despite High Ridership, Intercity Bus Lines Are Eliminating Stations

Riders on the ‘forgotten stepchild’ of the U.S. transportation system find themselves waiting for buses curbside as Greyhound sells off its real estate in many U.S. cities.

February 23 - Governing

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo Residents Push Back on Proposed Cap Park

State and local officials say the $1 billion project will heal neighborhoods divided by the Kensington Expressway, but community members say the proposed plan will exacerbate already poor air quality in the area.

February 23 - Bloomberg CityLab

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.