NACTO Introduces New City-Planning Guide for AVs, Takes a More Skeptical Approach

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【Summary】The National Association of City Transportation officials revealed a new city-planning guide for urban areas that are preparing for autonomous cars.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Sep 16, 2019 6:00 AM PT
NACTO Introduces New City-Planning Guide for AVs, Takes a More Skeptical Approach

In addition to changing how humans will get around, autonomous vehicles are also set to change how cities are organized . It's more than just having to rethink parking garages and cutting back on roads for lower numbers of automobiles, but further down to how crosswalks and curbs are implemented . Cities have a lot to think about if they want to ensure that urbanites and self-driving cars live harmoniously.

NACTO's New Guidelines Are More Reasonable
When the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), which represents a total of 81 cities in North America, published its first planning guide, it was a bit of a stretch. The organization envisioned more parks, more green areas positioned directly next to residential homes, and smaller roads for just delivery vehicles. Safe to say that it was more of a dream.
Even if it was a little farfetched, cities need to be ready for the increase in autonomous cars. If automakers, ride-sharing companies, and delivery organizations introduce autonomous cars when they say they will, things are going to get congested quickly. So, in light of that, NACTO has published a new version of its autonomous vehicle-planning guide. The document is 131 pages long and provides cities with what the organization with critical information on preparing for autonomous cars.
As Wired claims, the report is a little more specific this time around. For one, the guide states that cities should introduce road pricing – a policy where drivers are charged a certain amount of money to travel through specific parts of the city throughout the day. London has something in place now, but it's centered on emissions.

A Plan Is Needed
In the name of sustainability and equity, along with a goal of serving the public first, NACTO believes that autonomous vehicle companies need to share data with cities. Allowing private companies to hold on to data gathered from autonomous cars, as Wired points out, doesn't like cities see how long people are traveling for, where they're going, or whether they enjoy the rides or not.
Lastly, another major point that's made in the guide is when state or federal law takes precedence over local control. As the outlet claims, locals in Austin voted to kick Uber and Lyft out of the city, but the decision was overturned by Texas' legislature. Transportation officials, according to NACTO, need to be in control of how companies test, deploy, and demo their autonomous cars .
The whole point of the guide is to show and provide cities with a path of what urban areas should do to keep autonomous vehicles from being a nuisance.
"We're again reminding everybody that the point of all [developing technology] is cities and places that are good for people, that are sustainable, that are equitable, that thrive," said Kate Fillin-Yeh, director of strategy for NACTO. "And that's not going to happen if we double down on the mistakes we made with the invention of the car."

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