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Frequent PT commenter Neil21 is now a contributor for Strong Towns.  In his recent column – Marginal cost of transportation: robotaxis and sprawl repair – he discusses a common perception:

Political discussions and public investment decisions begin to assume that everybody comes with a machine; they conflate ‘driver’ with citizen, and relegate non-cyborg humans to a category of ‘other’, the ‘pedestrian’ who isn’t naturally considered first in site layout or public space design …

He eventually segues to one of his passions: the robocar.

Many urbanists really hate Google’s self-driving car, because they believe the stories told by the most naive techno-fetishists. Stories like streets full of robocars, safely nose-to-tail at 100mph and happily dancing past each other at intersections. …

Not to worry, explains Neil:

The availability of robotaxis in a community will provide two great boosts to sprawl repairers. Firstly, the cost of insurance for human-driven vehicles within city limits will rise hugely. Secondly, parking lots and travel lanes will far more easily be removed as ownership declines. As the boomers die off, their car consumption will not be replaced.

“How many Jakriborgs is that?” is a common urbanist’s riposte large scale park-and-ride developments. Jakriborg is a new Swedish community, built adjacent to a rail line and designed as a complete town. It fits on just a few acres, about the scale of a large parking lot. Imagine any park-and-ride you know and picture, within the decade, a fleet of fifty robotaxis shuttling back and forth from cul-de-sacs to rapid-transit, while the parking lot is Jakriborg’d.

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Jakriborg

Jakriborg (map here)

Full article here.