Sunday, January 24, 2016
Honolulu might start planning now for automated ride sharing
Our Honolulu city government seems to me to be neglectful of the plight of both drivers and pedestrians. We should start planning for a future where there are fewer, not more, cars. That future is coming for many mainland cities, but it's not inevitable.
Let's look at now and at the future we could have.
The roads are congested already, with many commuters forced to spend long hours on their way to or from work each day. Instead of taking measures to mitigate congestion we are allowing it to overwhelm us.
At the same time Honolulu seems either unable or unwilling to get its act together on street maintenance. Potholes plague even short trips. Painted lines, arrows and even crosswalks are allowed to disappear.
We also don't seem to mind killing off pedestrians. Why do we end up at or near the top of the statistics each year? It seems that a certain number of "incidents" are required before an intersection is provided with adequate safety features. Requiring human sacrifice before the city acts is unconscionable. Yet that is how we do it.
The future will include ride sharing and later, driverless cars. Both, if nurtured by a city government with foresight, could make a real difference in our daily lives.
A comprehensive article on this future is in Mother Jones, An End to Parking. Please have a look at it.
On the mainland driverless cars will face weather issues for some time. Right now the east coast is suffering through a major snowstorm. Driverless cars will have problems with even a little bit of snow. Honolulu does not have snow. So let's push for early introduction of those driverless cars.
In the meantime, although regulatory issues still exist, we should smooth the way for ride sharing using smartphone apps. They (technically at least) offer the promise that the number of cars on the roads could actually be reduced in the near term.
Before that will happen, though, things will get worse. All the new housing set to be built west of the city center will increase the number of cars on the roads.
Transit will not help. Unless the number of parking spaces in office buildings in town is drastically reduced, which is not likely to happen, each of those spaces will be occupied by a car.
Driverless or not, ride sharing and ride pooling has the potential to replace individual commuting and so combat congestion. You could be texting or catching up with the news on your way into town. What will make this dream (which of course is nothing new) workable is the availability of smartphone apps coupled with suitably low pricing.
So please check out the Mother Jones article--it has a lot to say about this.
... and we still need to fix all those potholes.