The coming onslaught of driverless cars will require dramatic changes to our streetscape, including new traffic management strategies and a reevaluation of curb and other parking spaces, according to a new report by the Regional Plan Association. But they will only do so if city officials can muster up the courage to transfer space traditionally allocated for cars to high-occupancy transit and autonomous vehicles. Even an act as simple as repainting lane markings and replacing worn out signage will help improve self-driving cars’ ability to “see” their surroundings.
There’s an enormous opportunity to correct the mistakes made during the Age of the Automobile, when cities were carved up in the interest of creating more space for cars. It will need to happen in the reverse: roads need to narrow, parking spaces need to be eliminated, and cars need to increasingly become better integrated into the tapestry of transportation. “Cities need to play an active role in this,” said Rich Barone, vice president for transportation at the RPA. “How aggressive it is depends on the city.”
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