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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Ride-share congestion at airports, stadiums and shopping malls may be foreshadowing the chaos at popular destinations if AVs begin making most pickups and dropoffs.

The big picture: As transportation options diversify to include more car-sharing, ride-sharing and AVs, cities will need to invest in new infrastructure to keep traffic flowing safely and smoothly at transportation hubs and other high-activity areas.

Background: Curbside management has become an issue, as ride-sharing has elevated accident risk and traffic congestion in pickup and dropoff zones. A proliferation of passenger AVs in urban areas could compound the problem.

  • In the short term, the "polite behaviors" of AVs, like yielding when cut off, could encourage drivers to more aggressively jockey for prized space on the road.
  • Longer term, “door-t0-door” service requests could overwhelm popular destinations, leading to designated dropoff points farther from destinations.

Where it stands: Many airports and large venues already have designated ride-sharing zones and systems of lanes and signage to help maintain order. But they will need to convert parking space into zones for loading and other uses, such as recharging areas that can be leased to AV fleet operators. These solutions could address congestion and also make up for venue losses in parking revenue.

  • Some airports and cities are currently exploring replacing their existing Automated People Mover systems with shared-use AVs that would operate on existing roads in order to save operational costs.

What's next: Eventually, high-density venues may opt for more distant dropoff zones connected to the venue by electric autonomous shuttles. These could provide "last-mile" transport and cut emissions levels.

  • In the near term, areas with needs for new parking garages should build them with this future in mind, so that the garages can be more easily converted to offices, apartments or other spaces as the need for parking declines.

Jim Barbaresso is SVP of intelligent transportation systems at HNTB, an infrastructure advisory firm.

Go deeper

Biden gets mixed grades on revolving door

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden is getting mixed marks for his reliance on industry insiders to staff his administration during its first 100 days.

Why it matters: Progressives have leaned on the new president to limit the revolving door between industry and government. A new report from the Revolving Door Project praises him on that front but highlights key hires it deems ethically questionable.

Exclusive: Sen. Coons sees new era of bipartisanship on China

Sen. Chris Coons. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Jan. 6 insurrection was a "shock to the system," propelling members of Congress toward the goal of shoring up America's ability to compete with China, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told Axios during an interview Thursday.

Why it matters: Competition between China's authoritarian model and the West's liberal democratic one is likely to define the 21st century. A bipartisan response would help the U.S. present a united front.

By the numbers: States weighing voting changes

Data: Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law; Cartogram: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Georgia is not alone in passing a law adding voting restrictions, but other states are seeing a surge in provisions and proposals that would expand access to the polls, according to data from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Driving the news: Just Wednesday, the New York State Assembly passed a bill to restore voting rights to convicted felons who have been released from prison.