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CityLab
Transportation

Do Driverless Cars Need Their Own Roads Around Manhattan?

A concept for AV expressways promises to reduce travel times, but falls into an old trap of car-centric planning.
An imaginary fleet of self-driving cars cruises through Manhattan, while pedestrians cross overhead (Edg)
An imaginary fleet of self-driving cars cruises through Manhattan, while pedestrians cross overhead (Edg)

New York City traffic has never been a relaxing experience. But over the past few years, a hobbled subway system and a massive influx of Ubers and Lyfts has made the situation even worse. The same has happened in other cities, including San Francisco and Seattle, causing politicians and citizens to point fingers at the transportation network companies. Yet these very same companies promise to deliver cities from their traffic woes in just a few short years with fleets of shared autonomous vehicles.

A new proposal from the architecture and engineering firm Edg envisions how New York City’s infrastructure might change to accommodate that vision. It also sheds light on the temptations that might sway planners away from human-centered urban design and back toward more modernist, auto-centric practices in the age of autonomous vehicles.