Oct 17, 2018

How self-driving cars will help solve America’s parking problem

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.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 1,430,453 — Total deaths: 82,133 — Total recoveries: 301,385Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 399,081 — Total deaths: 12,907 — Total recoveries: 22,461Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Acting Navy secretary resigns over handling of virus-infected ship — Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill — Trump said he "didn't see" memos from his trade adviser Peter Navarro warning that the crisis could kill more than half a million Americans.
  4. States latest: California Gov. Gavin Newsom is confident that more than 200 million masks will be delivered to the state "at a monthly basis starting in the next few weeks."
  5. Business latest: America's food heroes in times of the coronavirus crisis. Even when the economy comes back to life, huge questions for airlines will remain.
  6. World updates: China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown.
  7. 2020 latest: Polls for Wisconsin's primary elections closed at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, but results won't be released until April 13. Thousands of residents cast ballots in person.
  8. 1 Olympics thing: About 6,500 athletes who qualified for the Tokyo Games will keep their spots in 2021.
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African Americans are disproportionately dying from coronavirus

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams at a Coronavirus Task Force Press news briefing. Photo: Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has highlighted the disproportionate impact the novel coronavirus is having on African American communities, telling CBS Tuesday "many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID."

Driving the news: Several states and cities have reported that African Americans are dying from the virus at higher rates than any other racial demographic. Not all agencies have released a breakdown of data, but the virus is spiking in cities with large African American populations, including New York, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee and New Orleans.

Wisconsin won't be declaring a winner tonight

A Wisconsin poll worker wearing PPE guides people through a line outside of a polling place. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Polls for Wisconsin's primary elections closed at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, but results won't be released until April 13 due to a back-and-forth on absentee voting amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The big picture: Democratic Gov. Tony Evers attempted to delay the state's election in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 in polling places. The Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned his order Monday and said the election must be held on Tuesday as originally scheduled.