Once you start moving around town with little ones, the whole equation changes. We try to be as lightweight as possible, but there is still that stupid carseat. I've tried using Uber for a week in a different city and got really good at installing a carseat in 60 seconds but it's a big hassle. And you have to carry the carseat with you when not in the car.
If the city is dense and there is a desire to reduce cars, this is where public transit shines: your children can either walk or be carried (backpack carrier FTW) without any of the setup/teardown at every single stop. Bonus point: no need to strap/unstrap them.
Apparently, it folds up small and fits into the trunk .
Less accidents = less car seat laws?
And what do you do when you bring your child on a bus or train?
One would think a sufficiently financed car company could build a car with built in car seats as a luxury feature. Stranger luxury features do exist.
If you really want to eliminate parking lots, you have to offer a reliable alternative, such as light rail or subways -- which most intelligent cities have and/or are building more of.
Suburban commute can scale much better with suburban trains. Carsharing/ridesharing/bikesharing can then be used to travel the last mile from home to the station and from the station to work.
Author is Berlin-based, according to his bio.
But for Americans, there is so little public transit in the US, and what little that does exist is so rarely useful, that a large majority of Americans don't even remember to think of it at all -- particularly if your not in a top-20 US city.
But yeah, it's ridiculous that there's no mention of public transport, a system which has many other positive effects and per capita advantages.
You can reduce spots/meters and raise prices and that should solve a lot of the problem. It'll also increase walking/biking/ride sharing.
Also please keep in mind I'm just trying to be constructive with some thoughts I have and books I've read, and not trying to be argumentative.
My biggest problem was that the cars always had 1/4 of a tank of gas, so I was always filling the tank and using 30 minutes to find a station and fill the tank. Whenever I needed a car I needed to plan ahead significantly. Also, there is a stop loss incentive, so you get stressed about having to add extra hours to the car. We found if we are using the car more than 2 times a month its better to own a car.
Also, I hate the concept of calling it 'sharing' there is no sharing here, its a short term rental, all-be-it more convenient than traditional rentals.
I asked ZipCar (many times) to let me buy one of their fleet cars. While it was parked at home or work, I'd be thrilled if someone else could use it. I'd only ask that I got priority reservations (commute, errands, day care, etc).
My notion, at scale, would have solved the ZipCar's capital problem. And renting out my fleet car would have offset my own expenses. Win/win.
But no one seemed interested.
(This notion doesn't solve your empty tank problem. That'd piss me off.)
Also, any savings in parking needed is going to be eroded by road congestion - in a perfect scenariao cars are all going to be moving around most of the time. That seems like a much worse problem at present - roads are often at peak usage, while reducing parking is only a cost-saving feature.
I agree though - if your cities are already gridlocked, this won't make them somehow less gridlocked. You still need mass transit, cycling and walking no matter who's driving the cars.
I disagree. Human drivers use roads very inefficiently: they overreact, have high latency and drive overly selfish.
Computers can drive cars closer together, can maintain higher speed with the same safety margins and without causing traffic jams by overbreaking, and they have no problems obeying traffic laws (and thus won't cause a literal gridlock).
The only reason why self-driving cars won't notably reduce road utilisation is because of induced demand
So either the traffic patterns allow pickup to be optimized to do much better than doubling the car-miles, or traffic patterns are so that it doesn't matter.
(of course that's overly simplistic, but I don't see how it's a less valid simplification than yours)
The important case of commuting toward the city is interesting. Car-sharing breaks completely there - everybody starts work at about the same time (commute traffic confirms this). So we'll need as many shared cars as we already have. No savings at all.
Any savings comes down to off-commute traffic. Its a second-order effect. Maybe even too insignificant to bother with the complexity of sharing.
If people are going from everywhere to everywhere, there will be almost no extra cars.
Yeah, when all directions are congested it will add a lot of very short trips.
Something interesting to think about is logistics optimization. I have nothing against the big brown trucks but it should somehow be possible to haul my amazon packages from distribution center in the city by the railroad tracks to the burbs. Or distro center to distro center package movement.
Author here. You are completely right, I didn't include self-driving time in the second table. To correct my omission, let's add a column for 3X utilization where self-driving cars spend half of the time driving alone.
Shared self-driving car (3x)
Used: 3 x 5% x 2 = 30%
Number of cars in the city: N/3
Parking places needed: (N/3) x 70% = N x 23.3%
Parking reduction: (N x 95%) / (N x 23.3%) = 4.07x
So, in that theoretical case, we would need 4x less parking. However, this is just a rough calculation, for better precision you would use some traffic simulation application.
Thanks for feedback!
Of course with proper scheduling, this worst-case could be chipped away to get better numbers. The best case is nearly zero deadheading (with likelihood of nearly zero). Some kind of curve could be constructed? I'd love to see that too!
In many European cities, parking area could be converted into additional lanes by removing a few marker lines. Reduced demand for parking area can increase throughput too, in these cases.
Yes, using a tiny, shared commuter car is great when all you do is go to and from work with the occasional errand run in between. But what about people who are actually enjoying their lives rather than merely surviving? The author mentions this and then completely fails to address it:
> Because there are two times in a year when you go camping, you commute to your work in a large sedan or SUV. Alone. When picking a shared car, you use the lowest common denominator—the smallest car that will get you to your destination. And two smart cars fit in a single parking space.
So what does our camping friend do? Give up something he enjoys so we can all commute and park more efficiently? Great idea! As if work/life balance isn't already terrible enough, now we're going to shift the burden of parking and transportation management to individuals rather than local governments!
And what about the millions of people who drive from the city to the coast during the summer? And the people who drive to the mountains in the winter? And all the other people who have destinations or hobbies that the author didn't consider because they don't conveniently fit into his calculations?
Rent a SUV for his camping trip. Or a real offroad vehicle because he no longer has to make the "needs to be city compatible" trade-off, making offroad driving actually fun.
And that doesn't even take availability into consideration. What happens when spring finally arrives and everyone wants to rent an SUV to go camping on the same weekend? And then summer arrives and everyone wants to head to the shore for a few days? Will our commuter-oriented system be able to accommodate that exodus of vehicles for extended periods of time? Or will people be stuck at home because they don't own a car? I think that's the main thing people fear in a car-sharing scenario: being trapped.
Must be a terrible fate, being a straw man living in a black-and-white world where personal property of vehicles is completely outlawed just because it's less convenient for the majority of people.
> What happens when spring finally arrives and everyone wants to rent an SUV to go camping on the same weekend? And then summer arrives and everyone wants to head to the shore for a few days?
I'd ask the people who figured it all out for public transit systems several decades ago. We already manage to have enough trains and planes, how hard can it be to model the same for cars?
> I think that's the main thing people fear in a car-sharing scenario: being trapped.
Seems like you've missed the point entirely.
> I'd ask the people who figured it all out for public transit systems several decades ago. We already manage to have enough trains and planes, how hard can it be to model the same for cars?
Good joke. This isn't even close to true in the U.S.
What's so difficult to understand? People fear being trapped by their lack of a car. If they want to go to the beach for the weekend but there are no cars available Fri-Sun, they're stuck at home.
It's spread fairly evenly over the summer months in most locations. And not everyone has a SUV for camping. Some just need the huge storage to pack skiing equipment or similar, which tends to have different seasons.
It only takes one big weekend to require the peak number of cars.
For everyone stupid enough to try it, there's two people waiting for the next few weekends.
In summary, Cambridge's parking expansions were frozen in the 70's to help bring car pollution under control.
Just thinking briefly about the unintended consequences (e.g. more sprawl) makes me think that it would do more harm than good for the ultimate goal. Instead, address the root issue - make it incredibly easy, convenient, cheap, and enjoyable for people to get from point A to point B.
* Fan out from a transit stop. You need to layer on buses, bike share, and/or car share. And whatever you add needs to have ADA accessible and family friendly options. I love my Hubway key but if I have my kids with me, I have no place to put them [+].
* Building or expanding the damned thing. In particular for me, Boston is sabotaging itself by not aggressively expanding and maintaining its transit system.
* Changing American mindsets. Even in cities with relatively good transit systems, there's a mindset that it's dirty, for poor people, or too expensive compared to driving/parking. Car-sharing is a familiar concept for these people: I'm an American, I drive a car to places.
Just like how more public transportation only serves to move more people, not get vehicles off the road. Any savings in congestion is re-filled by people who weren't driving because their threshold for traffic was too low.
Also, is the existence of this effect justification enough to stop us from changing anything?
It makes economic sense in Japan, but without federal/state/city bonuses incentivizing the solutions you describe, why would an American promoter dig underground at a ten/hundredfold cost while they can just use the cheap available space?
Since I leave for work a bit later than my neighbors, there's rarely a car nearby when I want one (though obviously, if I wait long enough, one usually shows up, if not, there's still uber at twice the price). By the time I get home from work, the neighborhood is flooded with them again, exactly when I don't want one.
Being able to "accio car2go!" would be perfect.
If you ask an engineer you'll get an extremely technologically ambitious complicated system of just in time short term rental logistics, and being engineers they'll handwave away the whole social engineering cultural stuff because that's not on any microcontroller datasheet or EE resume I've ever read. Ah well, build it and they will come. Maybe some authoritarian demands to have the government punish people who don't subscribe to my private profitable service. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with good ole authoritarianism?
If you ask a social sciences type they'll whack the engineer over the head with a 2x4 and ask why we're not applying existing proven legacy technologies for remote working and distributed offices and VPNs and flex time. My employer already has something like 50 offices nationwide, why can't they scale to 2000 including one in my suburb for me and the 30 or so coworkers living here, why do we have to drive to the big city coworking office of 300 people? Most of my work is with coworkers in other states I've never met, why can't I do that from home, for all I know they're already working at home!
If you think its going to be easy to get people to give up private automobile ownership, have I got a homework assignment for you, try getting them to support remote working. It "should" be much easier, so if you can't social engineer 90% of the population into working at home or locally, then you have no point in even trying to socially engineer a new transportation system. Stick to daydreaming about flying cars.
Ditto the supermarket comparison. I used Peapod for years, nothing bad to say. I don't need to invent a nationwide network of short term loan self driving self cleaning distributed dispatched GPS guided semi-autonomous cars to buy a head of lettuce. I just want cheaper Peapod. It works, its cheap, and cheaper would be nicer. Trying to social engineer people into having peapod hand them a head of lettuce is likely a heck of a lot easier than social engineering a new transport system. Wake me when 90% of the population has been social engineered into the simpler task of using peapod for food, then maybe I'll expect a success at re-engineering the entire transportation system.
After all, if you didn't require people to drive, they wouldn't need overloaded roads or parking lots... The obvious solution isn't a fancier car, its less driving.
For a start, the latter one already exists on several cities.
And here's where enters the engineer, for making the public transportation more convenient than driving. Technology changes culture all the time - you just need to get it right (and yes, UX is a big part of getting it right).
But if you want to concentrate on remote work, you have my support. Just don't try to put other people down because their work isn't aligned with it.
Its that old advice about minimizing attack surface. Rube Goldberg machines are cool but not good engineering.
The simplest solution I see for parking lots is to cover them and generate power. Also keeps them dry and, in warm climates, cooler.
Relatively inexpensive (and becoming ever more so). Quick payback. Minimal modification of extant real estate and behavior.
There you go.
Something not considered often is an old telecom problem of trunk utilization based on random access and special event access using Erlangs of capacity per hour or something. My wife used to program PBXes and its quite complicated and interesting corner of math. There being a car there for you when you want to leave is both a very complicated and very calculable problem and its possible to calculate something legit and honest not just make up numbers or run simulations. With respect to my "car" sharing at home depot it gets to the point of calling ahead and reserving the truck and starting the rent meter before I even leave my house... I drive a cute little Yaris what am I going to do if I buy 2500 pounds of paving bricks and the truck is rented out from under me while I'm standing at the cash register? They're not going to load the pallets into my trunk... This is a problem for car sharing at supermarkets and the like; its 90 degrees outside and you just bought ice cream and there's no rental car within 5 miles because of some sportsball game on the other side of the city. Hmm. So the parking lot is still full of cars waiting for drivers. I would not be comfortable going somewhere without having an iron clad plan to return.
Another aspect of children is I have sad news that all your problems are not over when the car seats go away. Now you "must" be there to pick them up at a certain time or the police are called, etc. The cross country race isn't going to wait for you while you wait an extra 30 minutes to get a rental car. And being a very well paid and very busy dude, that 30 minutes as a fraction of my total time off per day or week is worth a hell of a lot of money to me aside from family friction vs scheduled activities. Suddenly "old faithful" the indestructible and infinitely reliably privately owned car is looking very attractive. How much would you pay to get an extra hour of relaxation per day? Ask a new parent for a likely shocking result. Cars are expensive, but worth every penny and more.
I find rental stressful. The clock is running! Unload those bags quicker. This railroad crossing just cost me $2.75 in waiting. I gotta return this thing in 30 minutes or pay another hour and I'm 25 minutes away. Maybe people burning irreplaceable hydrocarbons should be stressed out. But again, I'm well paid and have little time to relax and stress reduction is valuable to me an I can certainly afford it, so I could see buying my own used beater truck to haul stuff around once a month or whatever. I don't think I'll do it, but its not that unreasonable. You only live once and getting stressed out about stuff that is a solved and affordable problem isn't worth it.
A final problem which doesn't apply to me and my "car" sharing truck is if you hyper optimize car sharing until it actually works, abstract out the task of driving, etc, you end up with bus and taxi service. All that mental self pleasuring to merely poorly re implement something that worked a century ago. Skip all the product development and upheaval and just get a monthly bus pass and be done with it. You'll get faster more reliable cheaper safer cleaner service.
I really really want to get out of Europe for all this socialist crap. It's getting on my nerves.