Urban planning

Expert Voices

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

cars in shopping mall parking lot
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.

Expert Voices

Ride-sharing and AVs will prompt cities to rethink the curb

downtown San Francisco street with car, bus and streetcar traffic
Downtown San Francisco. Photo: Gili Yaari/NurPhoto via Getty Images

With more and more people turning to ride-hailing options, shared bike systems or motorized scooters — and with the advent of autonomous vehicles looming — urban planners and policymakers have started to rethink the curb.

The big picture: Historically, the curb has been the meeting spot for most buses and taxis, but curb space has increased in value. To take full advantage of this prime real estate, the use of curbs will have to be modified to make entries and exits easier, more efficient and better for the environment.

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