Greg Rogers and Jyot Chadha

Our planning studio was lucky enough to have Greg Rogers and Jyot Chadha come and present the latest developments in new mobility to our class.

Greg Rogers is the Director of Government Affairs and Mobility Innovation at Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE). In this role, Greg advocates for federal and state policies that will enable the safe and expeditious adoption of autonomous vehicles and other emerging technologies.

Greg presented on the opportunities that open up for cities with the introduction of autonomous vehicles. AVs, he pointed out, won’t be a silver bullet for fixing transportation, but they can help in many areas including safety, transportation costs, and carbon emissions. Since the vast majority of vehicle crashes are caused by human error, AVs could mean a significant safety increase and the dynamics of fleet operating AVs mean that AVs are likely to be electric from the start.

Greg also emphasized that taking full advantage of AVs requires rethinking how we allocate urban space to vehicles currently. Right now, significant portions of public and private space is dedicated to storing vehicles for long periods of time. For AVs, short term pick up and drop off zones make more sense than parking, since less people will be driving themselves to their destination and leaving their car.

Jyot Chadha leads the New Sustainable Mobility practice at the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. She works with the fastest growing mega cities in the developing world to understand the disruption taking place in transport today. Her work involves harnessing shared, electric, and driverless innovations for societal, environmental, and economic benefit.

Jyot talked about the opportunity AVs provide us since AV deployment will mean a turnover of a significant portion of the vehicle fleet. She pointed out that we have underpriced personal vehicle use and dedicated lots of public space to their use. The roll out of AVs will allow us an opportunity to rethink our cities.

David Rouse and Veronica Davis

The Autonomous Vehicles in Arlington Studio Class was grateful that David Rouse and Veronica Davis came and shared their wisdom about how autonomous vehicles should and do fit into the existing transportation field.

David Rouse is the Managing Director of Research and Advisory Services for the American Planning Association in Washington, DC. David is active in APA’s Smart Cities and Sustainable Cities initiative, focusing on the implications of autonomous vehicle technology for cities and regions.

David presented to the class on the current research efforts by the APA into AVs and the current planning efforts. He warned that even though we are less than a decade out from the roll out of AV pilots, 95% of large cities have no AV plan. Rouse warned that if cities are not prepared, AV roll out could resemble the dockless scooter and bike systems that have taken cities by surprise and forced local governments to quickly update their rules and regulations.

David pointed out that the new vehicles could resemble dockless vehicles in more ways than just the chaotic roll out, with operators acting more like a technology company than a traditional transportation provider or manufacturer. AVs would likely operate in fleets for short term use by individuals or groups. When planning for an autonomous future, David is adamant that technology should not guide urban design, but instead technology should be focused on serving better human centered design.

Veronica Davis is co-owner of the environmental and urban planning consulting firm Nspiregreen and the co-founder of Black Women Bike. She oversees transportation and urban planning projects for Nspiregreen as well as advocating for multimodal transportation focused on people first.

Veronica was optimistic about the prospect of a shared AV future but also stressed the importance of incorporating sustainable and equitable goals into AV policy from the very beginning and not as an after thought. She pointed out how readily the kids of today are taking up the shared model of bikes and scooters and how these same kids would be the ones using shared AVs in the future.

Veronica also pointed out that AVs would come with downsides as well as benefits. AVs present new road obstacles to people with disabilities and when planning for AVs, its important to consider all voices and include all in the conservation at the table.

Matthew Lesh

Thank you to Matthew Lesh for coming to present to our Autonomous Vehicles Studio Class!

Matthew Lesh is an AV mobility consultant focused on accessibility, equity, transit integration and deployment. He works the transportation consultant Mobility e3 who help communities take advantage of new mobility technologies such as autonomous vehicles. Matthew gave a presentation to the studio about the possible impacts AVs could have on transportation and the built environment.

Matthew presented both the good and bad impacts that autonomous vehicles could have. AVs have the potential to solve many problems that have vexed planners for years, such as paratransit for people with disabilities and bridging the first and last mile connection to transit. To gain the benefits of automation, Lesh said that AVs must be planned to be accessible for all travelers as a priority and that significant coordination by government agencies between private autonomous vehicles fleets may be necessary.