» Self-driving cars could alter how we get around—and also change the way our cities work.
Even the concept of a self-driving car is enough to get people talking in raptures about the potential for a utopian future society. It could fulfill the promise of “personal rapid transit” transportation planners hoped to provide decades ago, offering personalized point-to-point service without the hassle, congestion, or crashes involved with driving.
The autonomous vehicle, some predict, will replace many of today’s forms of transportation and radically expand mobility by allowing people, including the young, old, and disabled, to get around without having to walk, without having to know how to drive, and without having to wait for a bus or train. Operating without a driver and using electricity for power, the autonomous vehicle could be cheap to operate and environmentally friendly. It could, in fact, replace car ownership for many households.
We’re years away from the
Continue reading Will autonomous cars change the role and value of public transportation? »
» A major roadway is advanced, in violation of the consensus-based plan.
Yesterday, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) policy committee voted to approve the addition of a major new highway to the regional plan document. If built, the Illiana Expressway will run 47 miles between I-55 and I-65 in Illinois and Indiana, about 10 miles south of the existing built-up area of the Chicago region.
The project was supported by the relevant state departments of transportation as an essential complement to the existing mobility system and an economic development tool. But the decision to add it to the regional plan suggests a breakdown in what had been until recently a metropolitan-wide consensus about which projects to fund. Though the adoption of the project does not mean the end of the plan, it does imply that sticking to a regional plan in the face of political
Continue reading In the Chicago region, a setback for regional planning »
» Even as Dallas finishes work on a new light rail line, plans for a new highway along a parallel corridor advance.
This summer, Dallas’ Orange Line will be extended five stations northwest of downtown. The light rail service will expand what is already the United States’ longest such network and improve connections between central Dallas, the suburb of Irving, and — in 2014 — Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Yet billions of dollars in new construction have barely increased transit use; just 4.2% of the city’s commuters use public transportation to get to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. If there is one city that proves that simply building transit does not attract people to transit, this is it.
Investments in Dallas’ road infrastructure might provide some explanation for the situation. An astonishing seven grade-separated highways extend radially out from the city center in all directions.* This is a
Continue reading A Tollway in Dallas and the Absurdity of Building Duplicative Infrastructure »
» An all-electric, point-to-point system could revolutionize how we think about the automobile and significantly reduce the need for private cars in our cities.
American urbanites have already become quite familiar with the concept of car sharing through the rapid expansion of companies like ZipCar and I-Go; the ability to rent a car at a reasonable price at any time from a location within walking distance of home or work has dramatically reduced the need for at least some people to own private vehicles, since it covers the gap in service not provided by transit: Trips that are out-of-the-way, that require moving heavy goods, or that occur at inconvenient times. This is great for cities and for people, since not only does it reduce the need for parking, but it reduces vehicle capital expenses for everyone, since the cost of purchasing the car is effectively shared among many
Continue reading Car Sharing 2.0 Leaps Forward in Paris »
» To what degree can we rely on people getting into strangers’ cars to reduce the congestion on our highway networks?
Outside of the biggest, densest cities, transit generally underperforms; with smaller populations, less significant destinations, more diffuse congestion, and far more available parking, there is often little motivation for people to abandon their cars in favor of jumping on the bus or the train. As a result, the work commuting mode share for public transportation in most metropolitan areas in the U.S.is less than 5% (only five regions have shares above 10%).
Carpooling, on the other hand, attracts more than 7% of work trips in all major metropolitan areas. In many places, where public transportation options just are not particularly appealing, sharing an automobile with another person can be an excellent commuting alternative, especially for people who cannot afford to own their own vehicles.
But how useful can carpooling be
Continue reading Ridesharing as an Alternative to Transportation Capacity Increases »