Although the potential impact of autonomous and electric cars has been talked about extensively on technology blogs and podcasts, I’ve seen little discussion on urban planning and architecture sites. How might our cities change as a result of new road transportation technologies? How might technology change cycling? Here I explore the ideas of Benedict Evans and Horace Dediu and add a few of my own.
Autonomous cars may yet be 5-10 years away from reality. And what currently works well in sunny California may not work quite so well in rainy Manchester or worse. Similarly, if algorithms are trained in the US where ‘jaywalking’ is a crime, I’d want to see how well they can learn about London’s rather more anarchical pedestrians crossing the road anywhere, any which way.
Autonomous cars will vastly reduce accidents, injuries and deaths and the subsequent costs on society. If roads are safer might cities become that little bit less stressful? Would there be a psychological shift for potential cyclists? True autonomous cars won’t require fixed traffic lanes but I’d imagine that cyclists would still prefer the safety of their own lane.