Time to Take the Self-Driving Car Seriously?

So far, only a small minority of major cities have considered self-driving cars in their long-range transportation plans. The question is, should policymakers embrace them or stand in their way?

November 24, 2015, 5:00 AM PST

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Google Self-Driving Car

Ed and Eddie / Flickr

Citing a report from the National League of Cities, Kim-Mai Cutler contends that many American cities are ignoring self-drivers in their long-range planning. "What's even more surprising is that only 3 percent of these cities' transit plans are even taking into account the impact of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft even though they already operate in 60 of the 68 largest markets in the U.S."

Prospects for autonomous vehicles are intimately tied to land use policy. "The concern is that if suburban governments shirk at designing better, more compact physical space, the additional efficiencies and comforts of self-driving cars will just induce longer mega-commutes and more sprawl, which is bad for the environment."

Much of this hinges on whether self-driving cars (if they catch on) will be privately owned or shared via a transit-like utility. "It's concerning because no one actually knows how much efficiency self-driving cars can really provide. It could be a repeat of the 1940s when streetcar lines in U.S. cities like Los Angeles were dismantled to make way for cars and buses."

Monday, November 9, 2015 in TechCrunch

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