Could Autonomous Vehicles Add to Congestion? Maybe, Say Planners

The car-riding public may not be the only ones with self-driving car jitters these days. City planners — those people who set public policy around how our cities develop — are also raising questions about what autonomous vehicles could mean for parking, traffic and other perennial urban development issues.

“Many planners speculate that since autonomous car occupants no longer need to waste the time spent in their vehicles, they may drive more miles,” said William W. Riggs, a professor of management at the University of San Francisco who focuses on city planning and transportation.

“This could have the adverse impact of expanding cities beyond their existing boundaries, gobbling up open spaces, moving people away from downtown areas which are rich in commerce and culture and heightening socio-economic divides,” said Riggs in an interview with Government Technology following the 2018 National Planning Conference last month, where Riggs participated in a panel discussion about what AVs could mean for the future of cities.