Picked up from Modacity: Vancouver Prepares For a Driverless Future That Includes Extra Space for Walking, Cycling, and Transit
Taking its reputation as a North American leader seriously, the City of Vancouver’s Transportation Division has now started to consider the various ways that driverless cars will impact their important work. “In April 2016, Council asked us – as staff – to report back on the current affairs around automated, connected vehicles, and to suggest ways we can be more proactive as the technology evolves,” recalls Dale Bracewell, the City’s Manager of Transportation Planning.
Bracewell and his team spent the next few months researching the challenges and opportunities presented by autonomous vehicles, including the commission of a comprehensive, 93-page report authored by UBC SCARP (School of Community and Regional Planning) grad student Cail Smith, and funded by the Greenest City Scholars program.
The resulting 27-slide summary – created by Senior Transportation Planner Paul Krueger – entitled “Automated and Connected Vehicles: Implications and Next Steps”, was presented to Council during their final session of 2016.

For Bracewell, this document marks the beginning of the process, rather than the end: “This is the first of what will likely be a few times we need to report back to Council,” he clarifies. “We need to ensure we are proactive in meeting our Transportation 2040 goals, and whether there are policies in the City’s toolkit to help minimize the risks and pressures automated vehicles might put on those goals.”


  1. WHY do people keep saying that automation means “fewer cars”???? It MIGHT mean fewer vehicles, but it WON’T mean less TRAFFIC, because (a) just as many trips will still need to be made, and (b) people who don’t car share or use transit today are unlikely to want to share a ride in an autonomous vehicle in the future. In fact, autonomous vehicles cruising for parking spaces or making return trips to pick up more rides are likely to increase traffic.

  2. It’s been determined by several different studies that a significant amount of traffic in destination areas is people looking for parking. That will go away. Deadheading vehicles will be going against the rush, therefore not adding so much to “traffic”.
    But I think the bigger change is that many more people would find it reasonable to ditch car ownership. There would be less self-identification with their car if they’re not driving it, and a car, more or less, on demand without the high cost of ownership would be an attractive option.
    When people give up owning cars, everything changes.
    I really wasn’t sure I was ready for it. But once I took the leap I wondered why I didn’t do it sooner. I still do car share, but I drive a small fraction of what I used to. I believe that is a plausible outcome.
    But it’s also true that it could go the other way in far-flung suburbs with poor transit.

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