City planners, according to the American Planning Association, are supposed to “maximize the health, safety, and economic well-being of all people” in a community.¹ The role of city planners can include being part of the decision-making process that determines the locations of parks, streets, and residential and commercial areas. They develop these plans based on a variety of factors that include looking at demographics, considering economic and environmental impacts, and incorporating community input.
Many reports indicate that autonomous vehicles will be a vital cog in the design of the future city (e.g., World Economic Forum 2018).² As a planner working for the city planning department, you must assess what the deployment of self-driving buses would entail for your city, including its downtown area. Your role is to facilitate a group discussion about how self-driving buses might shape the city’s infrastructure and in the end, to deliver a set of recommendations that will aid city officials in deciding whether or not to participate as a testbed for the self-driving bus fleet.
As a city planner, your main points of prioritization include:
- Maximizing the safety of the public
- Creating a livable built environment
- Describing the impact of self-driving buses on transit-dependent populations
- Encouraging the design of “complete streets” that allow for all types of users, including pedestrians, bikers, and transit riders
- Upholding the tenets of green design and sustainability, which could include encouraging shared rides
- Prompting a resilient economy by improving transportation access to employment centers, particularly for populations that may not have personal vehicles
- Upholding equity principles by expanding access and mobility for all ages, abilities, and incomes
- Addressing concerns related to street congestion
- In addition, during the stakeholder committee phase, you are responsible for ensuring that all of the stakeholders in your group have a meaningful opportunity to voice their point of view. This could involve having each stakeholder provide a brief opening statement. You could also brainstorm a set of potential recommendations as a group, and then allow each stakeholder to weigh in on a proposed recommendation.
- What Is Planning? (n.d.). American Planning Association. Retrieved from https://www.planning.org/aboutplanning/
- Reshaping Urban Mobility with Autonomous Vehicles: Lessons from the City of Boston. (2018, June). World Economic Forum. Retrieved from http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Reshaping_Urban_Mobility_with_Autonomous_Vehicles_2018.pdf
- Eden, G., Nanchen, B., Ramseyer, R., & Evéquoz, F. (2017). On the Road with an Autonomous Passenger Shuttle. Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI EA 17. doi: 10.1145/3027063.3053126. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316615482_On_the_Road_with_an_Autonomous_Passenger_Shuttle_Integration_in_Public_Spaces
- Guerra, E. (2015). Planning for Cars That Drive Themselves. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 36(2), 210–224. doi: 10.1177/0739456×15613591. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283676084_Planning_for_Cars_That_Drive_Themselves_Metropolitan_Planning_Organizations_Regional_Transportation_Plans_and_Autonomous_Vehicles
- Rouse, D., Henaghan, J., Coyner, K., Nisenson, L., Jordan, J. (2018). Preparing Communities for Autonomous Vehicles. American Planning Association. https://planning-org-uploaded-media.s3.amazonaws.com/document/Autonomous-Vehicles-Symposium-Report.pdf