New Technology Can Change The Way Cars Take Up Space In The City

When modern people discuss the problems that urban areas face, one of the biggest challenges is always space. There’s never enough of it, and if you think you have enough, just wait until tomorrow.

Believe it or not, one of the biggest occupiers of space in cities is the car. Think about it: when you commute alone, ⅘ of your car is empty. When no one is  driving on that four lane highway, it’s just an asphalt desert. When you have a parking space at home and at work, but you park at the grocery store, the two other spaces are left unused. Many downtown areas set aside up to 60% of their space for car-related areas and services. That’s an overwhelming percentage considering the constriction of living space in urban centers.

IMAGE SOURCE: VOX

Well, the city of San Francisco seems to have some interesting ideas about that. As part of a contest for the Department of Transportation, San Francisco tried to reimagine what their city would look like with more ride-sharing services and better public transportation, and less cars and car-related space. The result is breathtaking. There’s suddenly room for more parks, more bike lanes, and more greenery in general.

IMAGE SOURCE: VOX

 

IMAGE SOURCE: VOX

It’s a lovely dream, but how do they actually want to get people to implement it?

Actually they laid out a three-step process to incentivize people to give up their cars. Step one would be to make people want to ride share more, perhaps by creating special lanes that only those cars could drive in. Step two is making the service affordable in a way that makes it accessible to the lowest income families, perhaps by making things like 6 passenger vans more common. Finally, step three is moving the city to automated electric vehicles, all of which would run on a city grid, which would make them more efficient and cut down on traffic.

All of this means a cleaner, more open, and more pedestrian-friendly city. Though San Francisco didn’t win the contest, they did make a big impression on city planners and forward thinkers alike with their proposals. Who knows, the future modern city could be completely carless!