Showing posts with label urban planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label urban planning. Show all posts

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Autonomous Cars and the Future of Cities


 With autonomous or even semi autonomous cars in 120mph+ pelotons on existing freeways and Musk 120mph skates in tunnels in LA, whole metro areas are sprawlsville.  The American life style will not be changed to urban living.  Ford, General Motors, and all the rest will still be around in 2100 promoting sprawl. 

 The car is the most important surviving public status symbol, and Americans at least are not going to give that up.  They will drive less especially locally but providing rides between urban nodes will still be an important status indicator.  Cities, especially new cities, will evolve out of the suburbs with high density urban nodes around regional amenities with complete urban services, restaurants, service establishments and high density housing at all price points for those who choose to live and possibly work in an urban node.   But the majority of the population will still be economically and ethnically segregated in single family homes and low density apartments in the suburbs. The current pattern for office commercial segregated in suburban campuses will continue for the forseeable future. Even working class cars will be high speed semi-autonomous and urban nodes will still require high density autonomous parking for residents and visitors.     


 Freeways will evolve to narrower lanes restricted to autonomous vehicles, with high speed lanes running in pelotons for efficiency and throughput.  Current freeways of three lanes or more with a breakdown lane in the center can in the near future convert to two or more high speed lanes, one transition lane and leave one wide lane with a breakdown lane for non- autonomous cars at existing speed limits and entrance and exit. Transition lanes would have restricted access and egress and would be separated from the conventional lane by a Jersey Barrier those shaped concrete vehicle diverters used in construction zones.  All that would be required to facilitate this transition would be to improve the roadbed in the high speed and transition lanes.  Autonomous cars exist today capable of 120-150 mph and transit vehicles soon will be once the need for them exists.    

 Autonomous cars can park in high density parking lots on floors limited to small SUVs by floor spacing, served by elevators.  Garages for autonomous vehicles only may be constructed over a major intersection with an existing freeway which is already served by transit and close to developed commercial centers.  The garage may be built over the freeway.  The passenger access floor will have bus clearance for larger vehicles also at high density enabled by autonomous control.  Pedestrian and bicycle access is over the existing sidewalk space on the cross street and transit access over a lane of the cross street.  Cars will enter from freeway access ramps to car lanes inside the garage next to the pedestrian/bikeway. Once passengers exit the car for local transportation and tell the car computer their expected departure time the car will join a cue to an elevator, tandem or more, at the far end of the garage to access parking floors. Exiting cars would use the same elevator with circulation on all floors in the same direction.  Driverless autonomous cabs would be available at the freeway nodes for those needing them. 

Infrequent transit nodes using grade separated bike, pedestrian, local transit and transit access car traffic as entry to the transit garage. This would create a local traffic and transit interface with high speed autonomous transit which would use existing on ramps to access the high speed lanes.  These transit nodes would evolve rapidly to high density urban centers.  Cities and suburbs should plan for and encourage these high density urban transit villages. 


 The Upper middle class will commute from their tract mansions to suburban commercial campuses, or to the city for work on the high speed freeways, using the existing freeway access and local streets for last few mile access as necessary.  

  Service workers and others with minimum wage employment will commute from now remote suburbs, car or vanpooling as needed where high speed transit is unavailable.  

  Depending on what happens with UBI and "Medicare for All" the workers displaced by robotics and the existing poor will die or move to now dead rural communities.  Assuming UBI and Medicare, the revived rural communities will become vibrant villages of local commerce and art most of which will generate excess funds for local amenities.  

Merc. 2017/08/06/ Opinion San Jose NeedsTransit on the Creek


The city of San Jose is planning major new development along Stevens Creek Boulevard as part of its Stevens Creek Urban Village Plan, which will come before the City Council on Aug. 8. As elected leaders of the other two cities along the boulevard, we believe the corridor needs significant transit improvements that are lacking in San Jose’s current plan.
Transit follows residential density.  Always has and always will.  Cupertino and Santa Clara have no residential density on Stevens Creek Blvd and have no plans to build any and are blocking the Urban Villages in San Jose.  This call for transit is hollow at best.

We respect San Jose’s interest in economic development and welcome projects that bring new vitality to Stevens Creek. However, we think it would be irresponsible to approve the Stevens Creek Urban Village project without an effective traffic mitigation plan along the Stevens Creek/280 corridor.
 A viable traffic mitigation plan is included in a supplement to the Implementation Section of the Stevens Creek Urban Village Plan which involves signal timing on Stevens Creek to provide a smooth dense traffic flow Eastbound on Stevens Creek from Stern to Saratoga and beyond to I-880.  

 Without the disruption of through right turn traffic from Kiely and Albany trying to get into the left South I-280 turn lanes in less than a quarter mile Saratoga Ave has ample capacity to handle through southbound traffic from Stevens Creek and San Thomas Expressway.  

 Traffic mitigation for the Urban Village will close Urban Village streets including Kiely and Albany to through traffic freeing up the local streets for local vehicles and bikes in shared lanes and pedestrians on improved sidewalks.  Current through traffic from Cupertino on Albany would be handled by the improved signals on Stevens Creek to Saratoga. Current through traffic from Santa Clara now using Kiely will be redirected to Saratoga via Stevens Creek and San Thomas all of which have ample capacity to handle the redirected traffic.   


Friday, August 19, 2016

The Future of Suburban Living

As the top 20% crowd into the cities, voluntarily as that is where all the good stuff is within walking distance including most of the jobs that support the top 20% what happens to the suburbs that they leave?  Property values crater, and it becomes reasonable for the bottom 80% to achieve the American Dream of suburban living.  Rents in the strip malls and local shopping centers crater along with the property values, and become affordable for bodegas, Dollar stores, and other services catering to the lower income groups.  Assuming existing transit is maintained, (roads don't matter) as travel outside the neighborhood is mainly for jobs serving the 20%.  The 20% will insure it is maintained as they don't use it anyway and they need the service people who are gentrified out of the city.  

The current suburban standard of 4-5 bedrooms and 2-3 baths will serve an extended family of many as well as it serves the current family of 3.  The family room or a big downstairs room will be turned into a dorm for the kids and the adults will occupy the 4-5 bedrooms.  The modern luxury kitchen will easily serve dozens as well or better than it serves 3.

One can expect the current suburban developments to become ethnic enclaves, since once the block is busted and prices crater further, friends and families will join the blockbuster and remake the development to serve their needs.  The fences will come down and the large backyards will connect to be a big playground for the neighborhood.

It is happening as we chat, many suburban neighborhoods and cities connected by transit to the urban core are now ethnic enclaves, and the white homeowners are taking the money and running while the money is still there.  The elderly to "Adult communities" and the working ethnics are blockbusting a new community for their ethnic group.