So, given what they already know, city officials are surely taking steps to steer us away from an all-autonomous gridlocked hellscape—right? Alas, no. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Planning Association, very few local leaders are working to anticipate the effects of self-driving cars. And though the arrival of these vehicles en masse could still be decades away, the authors write that now is a rare window of opportunity for cities to write policies that tackle both the unwanted effects of AVs as well as other big civic challenges.
To assess AV preparedness, the authors of the paper, MIT urban planning scholars Anne Hudson, Jinhua Zhao, and Yonah Freemark (who is also an occasional CityLab contributor) surveyed transportation and planning officials in 120 Americans cities (all with populations greater than 100,000 residents), and reviewed the published land use and transportation plans of the 25 largest among them.