How can cities prepare for the future of transportation and technology? According to Harriet Tregoning, managing change and designing for adaptation are the best ways to prepare. Tregoning is the former principal deputy secretary of the Office of Community Planning and Development at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Transportation in cities is increasingly being changed and driven by technology. The primary technology that has impacted transportation systems has been the automobile itself. Our current places are a product of the automobile. With the advent of autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, which are summoned using smartphone technology, we are entering a new phase of disruption. The automobile is privately-owned and extremely wasteful. According to the automobile industry, automobiles in the U.S. are drive around 5% of the time and parked for the remaining 95% of the time.
During her time with the District of Columbia Office of Planning, Tregoning worked to make DC a walkable, bikeable and livable community that was globally competitive. When it was time to redo zoning codes, she and her team reduced the total amount of parking for the first time in over 50 years. Parking utilization rates are dropping in many cities and the existing parking structures could potentially fill the demand. In areas with low utilization, the walk scores were high. In areas with high utilization, the reverse was true. Automation of vehicles is the very near future and city planners must look to the future.
Automation of vehicles could mean the elimination of many types of jobs: taxi drivers, delivery drivers, drivers for public transportation, etc. Losing these jobs would have a very real impact on the livelihood of citizens. Cities will need to take a long look at the long and short term impacts of any type of planning and policy changes.
To read more from the interview with Harriet Tregoning and her thoughts on the future of transportation infrastructure, check out the article.