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.