“If we don’t cease to exploit
our physical environment
and embark on its restoration,
our biology will not only pass away
but we will appear,
to whatever chroniclers take an interest in us,
to have been people who either
had no power to understand their own death,
no desire to do so,
or who simply embraced suicide.”
One of the most significant decisions affecting my life was the one to give up having a personal automobile nearly 40 years ago. My objections were mostly about how wasteful it is for each family to have one or more personal automobiles. The waste in all the material to make each complex machine, the waste of parking areas and so many streets. But the main objections relate to burning so much nonrenewable fuel and the many types of environmental damage done by that.
I also object to how personal automobiles allowed urban sprawl to occur, isolating people and forcing the use of personal automobiles because things were so far apart, and public transportation systems often didn’t well serve areas outside city centers, if that.
Driverless cars are about to be mass produced and many changes will occur. Now would be the time to be discussing some of those possible changes, while we have the opportunity to influence how this evolves.
One of the biggest choices will be what we want our communities to look like. Some people think autonomous vehicles (AV) will encourage even more urban sprawl because people will be able to do work in the car.
Perhaps the biggest issue is whether we will tackle private ownership of AV’s. One of the most wasteful aspects of our current auto situation is that most cars are parked well over 90% of the time. It will be so easy to request to be picked up by an AV, you would think that would encourage significant numbers of people to decide they don’t need to own one. Now would be the time to work with the government and industry to discourage private AV ownership.
Here in Indianapolis we are beginning to experience a little of this. Indy-Blue is an electric vehicle (not autonomous) rental program that has 200 vehicles available in locations all over the city, and not just in upscale neighborhoods, either.