Interesting article about the relation between cars, cities and ourselves.
You should like it veen
I do like it, thanks. It's a nice (albeit biased) summary of a bunch of AV-impact-related literature that I've read.
So the crux of this story is that autonomous vehicles (I use AVs because it is much less cumbersome) provide an enormous leap forward in the amount of vehicles we need to get the transportation we want. The UITP research that I keep referring back to estimated the amount of vehicles, in a shared-ride system, to reduce by about 90%. A fleet of AVs has a bunch of other interesting advantages, too: its maintenance can be done much better; the vehicles can be made electric; more reliable and sustainable (because now that makes financial sense); they can just drop you off anywhere so all parking can be gone; the fleet can consist of all sorts of vehicles of dozens of types, depending on what you need right now; taxes and other road pricing measures can be greatly simplified and easily introduced.
Those are just some of the effects that I happen to recall right now. But I do really wonder at what cost this revolution will happen. The folks over at UITP put it dryly: 'Managing the transition will be challenging'. It is uncertain what the increase in demand will be when suddenly, everyone at any age can travel across town for a few bucks in a timeframe that makes public transport blush. It is not known who will control this city-size transport fleet and what power this party will hold over local governments. It is not possible to estimate the commuting consequences that AVs will bring - so far, every increase in speed and ease meant that people started living further from where they work. That second transportation revolution also held a great deal of promise, gave the nation a great deal of freedom and changed cities as they knew it completely. We now know that wasn't always for the greater good - just ask any urban planner whether they think suburbs made cities better.
So I'm not convinced that AVs will be the magic bullet that allow us to make our cities better overnight, as much as I hope it is. I mean, just imagine what the Robert Moses of AVs would do. Who says the space that's freed up is used to make cities livable and not just to build even more housing/shops?