Whether they are are autonomous, self-driving or "shared" like Uber and Lyft, they are still congestion.
Many readers were unimpressed when I wrote, Why we don't need electric cars, but need to get rid of cars , trying to make the point that whether they are are autonomous, self-driving or "shared" like Uber and Lyft, they were still congestion. My favorite comment was "Cars=freedom. Why do you hate freedom?"
Then there is this, a wonderful ad for Uber that was developed by Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors for Asian markets, to try and make the point that when one uses Uber, there is less congestion. From Adweek:
“If the situation in Asia’s cities continues like this, they risk coming to a complete standstill in only a few years,” said Brooks Entwistle, chief business officer for Asia Pacific at Uber. “Ridesharing can be an important compliment [sic- should be "complement"] to public transport and private cars when reducing congestion as well as freeing up city space used today for parking spots. By putting more people into fewer cars, we can unlock our cities and their full potential. But it requires that we all work together.”
I am not certain that this message is actually the one that comes through, particularly since as Charles Komanoff notes in Streetsblog, ride sharing services like Uber are actually increasing congestion."The new ride services, known as transportation network companies, or TNC’s, last year caused a net increase of 600 million vehicle miles traveled in the five boroughs — a 3 to 4 percent jump in citywide traffic."
Also writing in Streetsblog, Angie Schmitt notes that it is not convincing.
By stripping away the gloss, anonymity, and cultural connotations of car exteriors and leaving only their bulk, the ad brilliantly highlights why moving around in single-occupancy vehicles is so absurd in an urban context. There’s just not enough space for everyone to get around this way.
Let's face it: it's not enough to just make them self-driving or pretend that they are shared. We have to figure out how to get rid of most of them in our cities.