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  1.  

    RichLL

    If the government stops access to your home then they have taken something from you, and must compensate you.

  2.  

    RichLL

    Yes, the article “outlined all the negative effects of the use of automobile” and none of the benefits.

    AKA bias.

  3.  

    JustJake

    Sure it does. A percentage, but not the majority, sign up for Uber driver duties. A larger percentage don’t, and won’t. Try moving away from absolutes in your reasoning.

  4.  

    Alex Brideau III

    I agree that driverless trains are already a normal adopted technology, but it’s a pity there’s been resistance to them at least here in LA. But I think it’s time we took another look at moving in that direction.

  5.  

    murphstahoe

    Interesting. So you are saying that people are willing to sign up to drive for Uber and shuttle people around in their own cars, but they would not be willing to use that same car to make money for them without them even having to be in the car?

    That makes no sense.

  6.  

    murphstahoe

    OK fine. You can drive on the street where you live, or park in your garage. Other than that, you cannot drive.

  7.  

    murphstahoe

    The irony of this is that we have a group trying to level self driving cars to torpedo transit projects – if we believe that self driving cars will come to fruition we should be ceasing any road widening projects or the building of any parking garages.

  8.  

    murphstahoe

    which is worse – knowing you have no control, or thinking you have control when you have none?

  9.  

    murphstahoe

    I am not free to ride my horse down US-101. Why do you hate my freedom?

  10.  

    JustJake

    In the socialist suggestions that are proposed here as alternate solutions, no one would be paying “full price” for anything either. Transit is subsidized, housing is subsidized, streets are subsidized, whether for bikes, walking or what have you. Growing corn is subsidized. The constant refrain that those who operate cars are not “paying the full price” is distracting and does nothing to further progress.

  11.  

    Cali Curmudgeon

    OK, make that “Total Grade separation”. No crossings to look out for, a la BART.

  12.  

    Alicia

    Why would the takings clause have any importance to changing the way we allocate public property?

  13.  

    Alicia

    Trains by definition operate on restricted rights of way. That’s inherent in the definition of a train, just as it’s inherent that we are talking about a machine that flies when we refer to airplanes.

  14.  

    Frank Kotter

    If you were paying full price for to operate your car, I bet you would seriously consider it.

  15.  

    Frank Kotter

    I was just about to reply that scabies infected pants shitters is a societal problem and not a public transport problem. In Germany presently, I have yet to encounter either on the bus or train – a few dogs, but that’s it.

    However, in the live free or die America, it seems that anything rich is good and anything not is infested with something.

  16.  

    Frank Kotter

    ‘Driverless cars also don’t have to do things like circle for parking’.

    Currently, they could be programmed to just keep driving in perpetuity until you summon them. This would be the worst case scenario. What would allow actual efficiency is a totally networked city where streets speak to cars. Considering the dismal track record of public/private partnerships in this field and American’s general disgust of government as a problem solver and driver of innovation, I think this possibility for an actual improvement on the status quo is a LONG way off.

  17.  

    Frank Kotter

    Personal mobility does not exist in a vacuum. While the private automobile (or even shared/on call automobile) fits your ideals, it has an effect on more than just you and your personal transportation.

    I’m not sure why you are taking use with the article as it never took a stance that transportation is ‘bad’ it is a basic human need. This article simply outlined all the negative effects of the use of the automobile and gave a critique of what is lost by the coming focus on driverless cars at the expense of all else.

    To use another expression – try taking the chip off your shoulder when thinking about policy.

  18.  

    RichLL

    Agreed. When people tell me that transit can and will be better so I should give up my car, I always reply “OK, great, build that totally different, totally better transit system, and then maybe I’ll consider giving up my car.

    But I’m not going to trust the same people that delivered crap transit to somehow suddenly miraculously deliver great transit.

  19.  

    RichLL

    Before cars we had horses. Technology changes but the joy of freedom and independence does not

  20.  

    RichLL

    “Reclaim the parking lane”?

    That implies that those parking lanes were once not there. But they always were – the roads were designed to be wide enough so that cares can park (i.e. stop when they reach their destination).

  21.  

    RichLL

    I am not aware that people in those cities are told by a bureaucrat that they can no longer drive along the street where they live, nor no longer park in their garage.

    And those countries don’t have a takings clause anyway

  22.  

    Cali Curmudgeon

    Where rights of way are certain, yes. But otherwise?

  23.  

    Sean Hussey

    Your reasons that driverless cars will be awesome are a lot more accurate than some of the other reasons I’ve heard. I’ve even seen people say driverless cars will solve public transportation problems, except it doesn’t help those who don’t own a car.

    Bus unions won’t allow driverless buses to save costs. For example, BART trains can run without drivers and yet they don’t, so no help there.

    Some mass transit users are finding themselves against driverless cars simply because antitransit people are saying these cars will replace mass transit. They’re actually saying we shouldn’t spend money on transit now because driverless cars will replace mass transit. The problem is they won’t. Driverless cars will actually be more expensive than regular cars at first. And someday when even cheap old cars are driverless, they will still be hundreds or thousands more than a bus ride.

  24.  

    mx

    Driverless trains are used in public transit systems across the world every day.

  25.  

    mx

    Given how bad humans are at driving cars without killing or injuring people, it’s not hard to believe that driverless cars will be safer (and much of the autonomous technology out there right now is really advanced safety technology, like automatic breaking and lane drift prevention). You don’t have to be that good to be better than humans at this.

    The real issue is the liability model: driverless cars won’t be perfect. Let’s say we cut the amount of damage in half, which while not great, represents tens of thousands of lives saved, hundreds of thousands of injuries prevented, and hundreds of billions of dollars in damage avoided every single year. That’s a win, but all of a sudden the liability for all that carnage we accept every day is all on carmakers, rather than diffused across the population and the insurance market. Nobody has a great answer for how we deal with that yet.

  26.  

    datbeezy

    This is terrible. Mobility is an unassailable good; you might as well try to argue that medicine is bad because God decided who lives and dies.

    I’m happy your mobility needs are being met – but try looking being your own nose when thinking about policy.

  27.  

    Andres

    Well, then obviously you haven’t really paid attention to the relevant scientific literature.

  28.  

    Eric Panzer

    Even for an editorial, this piece is very long on opinion and short on facts, or even solid reasoning to support its conjectures.

    “Cars, no matter how propelled, will still be atomistic, privatized, individualistic forms of mobility that undermine arrangements based on
    cooperation.”

    Why is this necessarily the case? It seems equally if not more likely that transportation network companies (TNCs) (e.g., Lyft and Uber) will eventually adopt autonomous vehicles, and will subsequently be able to offer even greater convenience and cost savings to typical households. Why own one or more autonomous vehicles that will still spend much of their day sitting idle when you could instead own zero cars on the days you don’t have to drive, while having access to a virtually unlimited number of cars on the days where everyone in the family needs to go their own way. Theoretically, as more people are enticed to use TNCs due to lower costs (labor currently still accounts for about 60% of the cost of using Lyft or Uber), the opportunities for convenient sharing of rides will increase, further driving use of these services, and their replacement of individual vehicle ownership. In this admittedly optimistic scenario, vehicle miles traveled could actually fall in absolute terms.

    “Driving a car under unfettered conditions will continue to be a form of mobility that usurps public space and crowds out modes of transportation that are more egalitarian, such as public transit, and superior for decarbonizing transport, such as bicycling.”

    Again, why will this necessarily be true? If autonomous vehicles are capable of dropping of passengers and then parking themselves, street parking will be all but obsolete. All we would need are drop off zones, and then even individually owned cars could go park elsewhere. Yes we might need more parking structures and those are expensive, but I think the benefits of turning street parking into protected bicycle lanes, or transit lanes, or just expanded sidewalks would far outweigh the costs of new garages–especially if we could price the parking in those garages properly.

    “If big tech and its political allies really want to help make our cities more livable and reduce greenhouse gases, here’s a modest proposal. Instead of focusing on making it easier to drive, focus on making it harder. We can start by installing governing devices into all cars–driverless or not.”

    I hope the author intends this as satire a la Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” because there is really nothing modest about this proposal. Right now we can’t even get people to support bond measures or higher gas taxes to fund alternatives to driving. How can he possibly thinks it’s realistic to expect people to support proposals that would not only potentially cost them a lot more, but also seem like immense government intrusions into their lives? I agree that we need to carefully consider the impacts of autonomous vehicles and work hard to ensure they do not undermine our livability or climate goals. But I also think that the way to do this is by trying to encourage technological developments and policy regimes that push autonomous vehicle use in positive directions, rather than trying to fight a losing Luddite battle of resisting new technology.

  29.  

    p_chazz

    But most places are not like Paris so it’s not an apt comparison. Even if you live in a major city, if you are not on a major transit corridor, you are lucky to have a bus every 30 minutes. And I think the crazypants thing has gotten worse. Especially on BART.

  30.  

    hailfromsf

    FWIW, they’re already racking up thousands of miles with far fewer incidents than your average driver.

    What’s really promising about them is that they aren’t limited to 2 eyes, 2 ears, a slow brain, and having to communicate to other drivers with nothing but a horn, turn signals, and a brake light. Furthermore, they won’t get drunk, sleepy, angry, distracted, suicidal, or lazy. We obviously aren’t there yet, but no question they are on their way to becoming vastly superior to human drivers.

  31.  

    gneiss

    I miss my MTV!

  32.  

    Cali Curmudgeon

    “Cars, no matter how propelled, will still be atomistic, privatized, individualistic forms of mobility that undermine arrangements based on cooperation. Driving a car under unfettered conditions will continue to be a form of mobility that usurps public space and crowds out modes of transportation that are more egalitarian…”

    I am trying to recite the above in my best Slavic, or make that Germanic, accent.

    As it stands, they can’t even get driverless *trains* down, and that should be vastly easier. Before we speculate about the far future, let us focus upon the here and now, yes?

  33.  

    Kevin Peter Johnson

    The notion that driverless cars will indeed be safer is lost on me. There is no real-world data supporting that claim and it seems to be overly-optimistic. Until large fleets of driverless cars operating in complex urban environments can be studied over time and proven to be safer, I don’t believe it. By the time we figure out if they are safer or not, it may be too late. I’ll keep supporting the tried and true idea that more people walking, biking, and using transit makes cities safer, more livable, and more sustainable.

  34.  

    GDT

    In 50 years from now, it can be as easy as an optional app legislated to be preinstalled into all drivereless cars. Optional opt-in. Just 5% of people activating this app, would probably instantly fill the streets, NYC-taxi-fleet-style, very densely, all the way out to the suburbs. Car maker keeps 30%, you keep 70%. Something like that.

    You fall behind in a mortgage payment, or you need to send kids to school, or you now move to the Big City and don’t need to use the car as much. Perhaps, 95% of Americans won’t opt-in, but 5% will…and that’s enough to fill the road with near zero-wait hails.

  35.  

    JustJake

    Driverless cars… they don’t extinguish the desire of American consumers to OWN their cars. It will continue to be a reflection of style, taste and wealth. The notion that AV cars will somehow lead to fleets of generic bot-cars that people ride in, interchangeably, isn’t accurate. If I own an upscale BMW AV, it isn’t going to be performing taxi duty when I’m out of it. Sure, there will be some fleet type usages. How much that model prevails is yet to be determined.

  36.  

    GDT

    I totally agree that mass transit will never be made obsolete. I am all for more bike infrastructure and speed governors (easier when humans can focus on devices/work/play rather than trying to drive fast).

    But let’s also factor in driverless car-sharing and driverless minibuses. Instead of summoning your own car from far away, you’d summon the nearest shared vehicle — or pay less to summon a “loose bus route” minibus carpool. Basically a cross between a bus and taxi. There’d be enough them that many carpool routes would fit your itinerary with only a few minutes delay.

    Car manufacturers could pre-install an optional “drivereless uber/rideshare/careshare” app into your car. So when you are at work, or need to pay the bills — your car goes off nearby to do hail service for others. You’d opt in (optional). Car company would say, get 30% of the revenue. You’d keep 70% of the revenue. You’d have robo-maid services (car cleaning, car maintenance, lost & found) to keep your car clean and organized, if needed, before it came back to you. Good if you’re struggling to pay bills or need to pay for your kid’s university, or decide you don’t need the car as often.

    By having carshare/rideshare serve nearby, you don’t send cars shuttling far away. You’d replace city parking with carshare/rideshare pickup spots instead. (parking spots = cars to be hailed)

    You’d price it so that you pay less for bigger-mass transit, pay a little more for minibus, and pay dearly for solo-occupant. Price it properly, since taxpayers are paying for the road…

    But we should not depend on self driving cars, and we should still continue to expand transit (I agree with that diagram) and bike infrastructure. However, since self-driving cars are coming anyway, let’s make sure we put them to “proper use”….

  37.  

    murphstahoe

    Ask Rome, Florence, London, etc…

  38.  

    murphstahoe

    Most Americans liked the physical experience of holding a record/cassette/CD in their hands and putting it in a music playing device too. Ask the record companies how that’s going now.

    “Most Americans” – over the age of 40.

  39.  

    murphstahoe

    In places where public transit is prioritized, the problems you describe don’t exist. I don’t feel robbed of agency when in Paris, I just go down to the subway and a train comes.

    The crazy pants crapping thing is so overplayed.

  40.  

    murphstahoe

    What’s the big lift we face to change infrastructure? Parking. Moving people to car fleets is the easiest way to get rid of the parking. And that’s easiest with AVs.

  41.  

    RichLL

    What is your estimate for the amount of compensation that a city would have to pay to residents if it restricts vehicular access to residents’ homes?

    Because what you are suggesting is a taking.

  42.  

    Jason

    Driverless cars also don’t have to do things like circle for parking. So cars that can let you out and then drive themselves to a parking spot should, presumably, make it a lot more politically viable to do things like remove curbside parking and reclaim the parking lanes for expanded sidewalks or bike lanes.

  43.  

    Major Sceptic

    There are other avenues to minimise excess traffic in cities, for example removing access to private vehicles on certain sections of road through parts of the city , allowing other forms of public transport, pedestrians, bikes, taxis, buses, trams or light rail. There is no need to cut the legs of the motoring public, just restrict some areas.

  44.  

    RichLL

    Don’t overlook another factor – most Americans really really like cars and driving. While commuting on 101 during rush hour can suck, the average person loves the freedom and control and independence that cars give them. Driverless cars, even if they stop killing Tesla test drivers, take away that control.

    Do you envisage NASCAR and Formula One going driverless? I don’t.

  45.  

    RichLL

    The danger of socialistic solutions is always the authoritarian nature of any proposal. At least on the roads I feel i have some control, Under a 1984 scenario I know for a fact that I have none.

  46.  

    LongTom

    1. Driverless cars encourage bicycling by making it far safer than it is now.
    2. Driverless cars are far more efficient; even if the current fleet remains gas-powered, its unlikely that the allure of self driving cars would increase per capita miles driven enough to offset efficiency gains.
    3. Driverless cars will enable sightless, aged, and other people currently too challenged to drive or use public transportation a new degree of independence and salf-reliance.
    4. At a minimum, every trip by a driverless car that replaces a trip in a human-driven car lowers the probability of another driver, pedestrian, bicyclist, or road crew worker being killed or maimed.
    5. Prying Americans out of their gas guzzling SUVs with more frequent buses or bike lanes is is a hopeless fantasy. The transition away from individual car ownership will be successful to the extent that the advantages of individual ownership can be duplicated.

  47.  

    p_chazz

    As a non-driver and frequent public transit user I’m afraid that “engaging with the rest of our community” is a euphemism for encountering people who have crapped their pants, are infected with scabies or are just plain batshit crazy. It can also mean getting beaten up or robbed. These are all major disincentives to using public transit. As long as these factors plague public transit, it will seriously limit people’s willingness to use it if other alternatives exist.

    Public transit also robs a person of agency–the ability to do what you want when you want to do it. People enjoy and prefer the sense of autonomy that “atomistic, privatized, individualistic forms of mobility” provide. They don’t want to live in your socialist utopia.

  48.  

    Kevin M

    Right, but I think you know very well just how massively expensive option #2 is if we’re talking about moving curb, which is why it’s not happening on a grand scale despite more support for it than ever. We may get there – eventually – but it’s not a legitimate counter to #1 to me, which will largely be funded by the private sector.

    If you’re talking about taking parking for #2 instead of moving curb, well, that would be a lot easier if #1 advances a bit…

  49.  

    LongTom

    Here on Planet Earth, we try not to waste time with authoritarian fantasies that have no chance of being realized, even if someone were hare- brained and dictatorial enough to want to. Problems like those presented by private car ownership are best solved by widening peple’s options, not narrowing them.

  50.  

    gneiss

    It is likely that the same sales pressures that brought us large SUVs and more powerful cars in the wake of increased engine fuel efficiency will exist for autonomous vehicles as well. People still want to get to their destinations quickly, regardless of how many distracting things that they can do along the way. This means that there will be immense pressures on car makers to have their cars drive fast and aggressively. The technology exists for AV to do things like drive more closely to other AV’s, negotiate intersections without stop signs or stoplights, and react more quickly than humans can, particularly in conditions of low visibility. All things that do not bode well for those outside of cars because they allow vehicles to travel faster. It’s entirely plausible for our streets to become more dangerous for people outside of cars then they are now rather than safer, because few will want to be in a friendly but super slow Google car if there’s a AV version of a Dodge Challenger that gets to your destination twice as fast.

    I understand that urban designers see AVs as a way of making our streets safer because they will “see” people, drive more safely and act as a better taxi, but I don’t see the technology playing out that way in the suburbs where most people in this country live and virtually everyone buy cars. In those areas, people will still want to own cars, because summoning a car still means having to wait until it arrives. Also, car makers can make far more per unit selling to individuals than to fleet owners, so why bother changing an ownership model that has worked for other 100 years?

    We can already see how this may play out, with Tesla already blaming the driver who died while is car was in AV mode. How do you know that someone walking outside of a crosswalk won’t be blamed for their own death, because the “got in the way” of an AV?