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Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

America is overparked. In Los Angeles, for example, there are 9 parking spaces for every car. Nationally, 250 million adults have access to more than 700 million parking spaces. That adds up: The U.S. dedicates an area the size of Connecticut to parking.

The big picture: As an alternative to personal car ownership, self-driving cars will allow cities to be rebuilt around people. Ride-sharing fleets in particular could transform the use of valuable urban real estate, turning the asphalt jungle back into spaces communities can use for anything from dedicated bike and scooter lanes to on-street parklets or even housing.

Today, the average vehicle is in use only 4% of the time. By contrast, studies suggest that self-driving fleets will be in use more than 75% of the time. A more efficient fleet means less time parked — and more space to repurpose. In San Francisco alone, over 50 parklets have sprung up across the city since Rebar Group converted the first parking space back in 2005.

When self-driving cars do need to park (at low-demand hours, for instance), they can do so more precisely than a human. While parking lots currently budget around 325 square feet per car, Audi estimates that self-driving cars will shave as much as 30% off that number, saving roughly 2,000 square miles of parking.

They will also save riders time: In Westwood Village, a shopping strip in Los Angeles, consumers spend approximately 95,000 hours each year circling for parking — that’s 11 years of wasted time, in just one small stretch of roadway.

What to watch: As shared and autonomous vehicles continue to change our transportation choices, we should expect to see the footprint of our cities change with them.

Jody Kelman is director of the Self-Driving Platform team at Lyft.

Go deeper

The consumer's massive "war chest"

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Economists expect the pace of economic growth to cool off now that government transfer payments like stimulus checks and emergency unemployment benefits are in the rearview mirror. But evidence suggests that the U.S. consumer is sitting on a lot of financial firepower that could be a key driver of growth in the quarters to come.

Why it matters: U.S. consumer spending is massive, representing about 70% of GDP.

The Fed takes on its own rules amid stock trading controversy

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New disclosures that showed Fed officials were active in financial markets set off a firestorm of criticism. Now the Fed may overhaul the long-standing rules that allow those transactions.

Why it matters: What officials actively traded was sensitive to the Fed decisions they helped shape, including the unprecedented support that underpinned a massive financial market boom.

Clarence Thomas says Supreme Court could be "most dangerous" branch

Justice Clarence Thomas on Thursday, during rare public remarks at the University of Notre Dame, warned against politicizing the Supreme Court.

Driving the news: Thomas, the court's longest-serving member, said that the justices do not rule based on "personal preferences" and that politicians should not "allow others to manipulate our institutions when we don’t get the outcome that we like," per the Washington Post.

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