Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

If we wanted to build the ideal city and cost weren't a concern, we could really expand on the use of underground for transportation. The best cities for humans tend to have great subway systems, but in theory we could do a lot more. Basically all parking and most arterial roads could be underground, leaving above-ground an almost-entirely pedestrian paradise. Sure, driving in an endless tunnel doesn't sound terribly pleasant, but the idea is to get people from A to B efficiently, then out of the car. Unfortunately building this kind of infrastructure under existing cities would be prohibitively expensive.

Under a new town you might be able to do it much more cheaply (which isn't to say cheaply in an absolute sense), but of course the economic incentive isn't there at that point.

That said, with services like Uber, and much more so, driverless vehicles, hopefully the desire to bring a car along wherever we go will begin to ebb in the near future, making the narrow street vision described here much less of a compromise. I imagine those times when you need a car to get somewhere, spending some of the time weaving around through carts and pedestrians would be much less frustrating if you can kick back and read a book while it's happening. Even more though, there would be less concern of servicing parking for these sorts of regions, so you could still have a few arterial roads to get in and out, far less wasted parking space, and no need to build underground mazes to accomplish it.

Unfortunately, putting fuel driven cars underground is incredibly dangerous. One major fire could asphyxiate many people. Even in reasonably small tunnels there have been major disasters: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont_Blanc_Tunnel

Good point (although you would hope better ventilation could help with that?) Regardless, we should be (finally) seeing more electric cars in the near future (not that they can't catch fire). Anyway, I don't think underground road situations are actually practical, just that it would be nice to use that third dimension more in an ideal world.

Yea, current electric cars don't really solve the problem as batteries are prone to fire. If we want underground vehicles, we need wire connected electric.

AKA subways, really. And cities with excellent subway systems really do come close to this ideal. It makes it feel like anywhere in town is walkable.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact