A recent UK study has looked at the transformative implications of self-driving vehicles on cities. The authors found that shared autonomous vehicles could increase available urban space by 15 to 20 percent, largely through the elimination of parking spaces. Today central London has about 6.8 million parking spaces and a parking coverage of around 16%! Many large cities have even larger coverage ratios for parking space of up to 30%. Freeing up this space would make our cities greener, increase quality of life and also create the potential for additional housing.
Autonomous vehicles will also make the rural communities more attractive because shared travel to nearby cities becomes widely available, affordable and does not lead to loss of productive time.
The authors also consider autonomous vehicle only development areas and highways that are limited to autonomous vehicles. This could reduce costs as lane markings and signage would no longer be needed, the lanes could be narrower and throughput per lane would be higher.
Overall the authors from a cooperation between professional services firm WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff and architect planners Farrells conclude that autonomous vehicles will be transformational: Future mobility may be headed to a shared pay-as-you-go transport system. The study provides many key points which infrastructure planners and legislators need to consider!
Source: “Making better places: Autonomous vehicles and future opportunities“, 2016 by WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, Farrells