Authors: Susan Shaheen, PhD and Adam Cohen
Date: May 21, 2018
In an automated future, cities could change in three fundamental ways:
- The density of urban centers is likely to increase, as shared automated vehicles impact reliance on private vehicle ownership and use. Even if privately owned, automated vehicles would no longer need to be parked in a city’s highest valued real estate. Instead, these vehicles could self-drive and park away from residential, employment, and other activity centers. As such, auto-oriented land uses, such as parking, gas stations, and auto dealerships, could be redeveloped into housing, offices, and other land uses following principles of highest and best use. The four criteria guiding the highest and best use of real estate are: 1) legal permissibility, 2) physical possibility, 3) financial feasibility, and 4) maximum productivity.
- Suburban and exurban areas are likely to expand, particularly in regions with high costs of living and a lack of affordable housing. With telecommuting growth, fewer work days in the office, and automated vehicles, longer commutes could become less of an impediment. Vehicle automation has the potential to transform commutes from lost driving time into productive hours that could be spent working, relaxing, or resting.
- A reduction in parking is likely, although estimating the precise reduction is difficult and will likely be regional based on automated vehicle ownership rates, the built environment and walkability of a city, and the availability of high quality public transportation and on-demand mobility options. Parking is a very expensive addition to most real estate projects, and the vast majority is unpaid with no return on investment. A reduction in parking demand can free up land and capital to make other property improvements, such as increased density and public spaces.