Been following this Tumblr thing for a while now. Good stuff. Go look!
This article assumes that driverless cars will be here pretty soon, maybe a few years from now and is concerned with what to call them.
This one is much more realistic. Google has made impressive progress, but apparently their cars can’t even handle rain. The media hypes this as the solution to all transportation problems … and by media, I mean wide-eyed transportation bloggers.
Let’s assume that these things drove themselves as well as the average, barely trained US driver. What then? What problem do they solve? Not GHG emissions since once they drop you off at your destination, they’ll drive around until they find a place to park, racking up vehicle-miles (but not passenger-miles!). If they don’t reduce VMT then they don’t reduce congestion. So what’s the upside?
Oh, and then there’s liability. I don’t see the public being OK with not holding the vehicle owner responsible when their driverless car mows down a Brownie troop at a cross walk. I’m also pretty sure the manufacturers won’t accept liability either so who is responsible? Will states just exempt owners and manufacturers from any liability? Yeah, I don’t see that.
First, I am a Jarrett Walker fanboy. Just no way around that. I think his doctorate in literature lets him think in a particular way about how planners think and talk. That’s what this whole article is about.
Interestingly, his aircraft analogy applies to other fields, too, when there are discussions of what is to be done; I see it in IT, for example. What I really like, though, how he fleshes out the analogy. I’ve been in many discussions where plane-crashers have derailed a high-altitude discussion (sorry for the mixed metaphors!).
Last, he’s obviously been to Norman! See the quote.
For example, if land use planning is nothing but development approval, then stuff will get built, project by project, without any attention to the aggregate consequences of that development — on traffic, on livability, on natural resources, etc.