Listen to the Talking Headways Podcast

Quote of the Day

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: We assume families don’t want to live downtown, we therefore don’t design for family, and, sure enough, families don’t come, or they don’t stay.

Brent Toderian, Vox

How Self Driving Cars Will Change Our Cities

Kelly Wong, March 10, 2015


Self-driving cars are getting a lot of publicity–and for good reason.

Some think that driverless cars will completely reshape our cityscapes. With fewer traffic accidents due to human error, autonomous vehicles would change the car repair and insurance industries. Ride-hailing companies like Uber and car-share companies like Zipcar could be transformed. One of the biggest changes, however, will be that cities won’t need nearly as many parking facilities. While there will still be a place for private car ownership, many major cities will end up having surplus parking space that can be turned into parks or even repurposed for new commercial uses.

But no matter how transformative they are, autonomous cars are unlikely to replace mass transit. One big reason is because mass transit is simply more efficient in terms of density. In cities, where space is both limited and expensive, a bus or train that can carry dozens or even hundreds of passengers will always be more efficient in terms of space and cost. And because more and more people are moving to cities, the real innovation that may come out of autonomous vehicle technology might not be the cars, but self-driving buses. After all, the US road system was built for cars, and it works just as well for buses.

Some experts fear that self driving cars will promote sprawl. Long, arduous commutes incentivize living near urban centers, but if commuting by car became much easier, the allure of city life might give way to the appeal of lower costs and bigger homes in suburbs. Many projections estimate that self driving cars could roll out as soon as the early 2020s, and since we’ve seen the effects of sprawl on health and economic mobility, it’s a big concern that planners will need to deal with soon.


Subscribe

To Receive The Direct Transfer in Your Inbox Daily

Annual Subscription - $150/Year

Sign up for an annual subscription to The Direct Transfer Daily at a discounted rate. This gives you The Direct Transfer in your email every week day for 48 weeks.

Monthly Subscription - $15/Month

Not sure if you want to commit to a year? Sign up for a monthly subscription to The Direct Transfer Daily. This choice allows you to unsubscribe after a few months without the annual commitment.

Student Subscription - $60/Semester

Sign up for a student subscription to The Direct Transfer Daily so that you can receive these article links in your email for five months during the fall or spring semester.

Enterprise Subscription - Coming Soon

Coming soon! Ask us for more information on an enterprise subscription to The Direct Transfer Daily so employees at your company receive the links every week day for 48 weeks.

Learn More

Top Links

of the past 48 hours

Video of the Day

Friends of The Direct Transfer

Welcome to The Direct Transfer

What Can We Help You Find?

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.