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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

7 mins ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.

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