Mean streets: Self-driving cars will “cruise” to avoid paying to park

Busy day in Santa
Cruz, CA.

As if city traffic and parking isn’t a big enough headache already for anyone who attempts it, along comes another issue. The proposed cure isn’t much fun either.

Autonomous vehicles “have every incentive to create havoc,” a transportation planner says. UC Santa Cruz Magazine reporting.

With no need to park, self-driving cars will clog city streets and slow traffic to a crawl.

However, a policy fix could address these problems before autonomous vehicles become commonplace, says Adam Millard-Ball.

If you think traffic in city centers is bad now, just wait until self-driving cars emerge on the scene, cruising around to avoid paying hefty downtown parking fees.

Even worse, because cruising is less costly at lower speeds, self-driving cars will slow to a crawl as they “kill time,” says transportation planner Adam Millard-Ball, an associate professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

“Parking prices are what get people out of their cars and on to public transit, but autonomous vehicles have no need to park at all. They can get around paying for parking by cruising,” he said. “They will have every incentive to create havoc.”

Millard-Ball analyzes “The Autonomous Vehicle Parking Problem” in the current issue of Transport Policy.

That scenario of robot-fueled gridlock is right around the corner, according to Millard-Ball, who says autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles are likely to become commonplace in the next five to 20 years.

Millard-Ball is the first researcher to analyze the combined impact of parking costs and self-driving cars on city centers, where the cost and availability of parking is the only tool that effectively restricts car travel.

Under the best-case scenario, the presence of as few as 2,000 self-driving cars in downtown San Francisco will slow traffic to less than 2 miles per hour, according to Millard-Ball, who uses game theory and a traffic micro-simulation model to generate his predictions.

“It just takes a minority to gum things up,” he said, recalling the congestion caused at airports by motorists cruising the “arrivals” area to avoid paying for parking: “Drivers would go as slowly as possibly so they wouldn’t have to drive around again.”

Free cell-phone parking areas, coupled with strict enforcement in loading areas, relieved the airport snarls, but cities will be hard-pressed to provide remote parking areas for self-driving cars at rates lower than the cost of cruising—which Millard-Ball estimates at 50 cents per hour.

Continued here [includes short video].

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop

http://bit.ly/2TBopfN

February 6, 2019 at 10:00AM

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