All Hail the Robot Car?

The rise of the driverless car is an opportunity to decide what role we want cars to play in our cities.

Jessie Singer
Oct 11, 2018 · 6 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Credit MOTOR Magazine — Arthur Radebaugh image courtesy of AACA Library & Research Center — Hershey, PA

How would New York City have to change to accommodate autonomous vehicles? Is that what we want? Do we even have a say?

To figure out the answer, we asked Sam Schwartz, New York City traffic engineer and author of No One at the Wheel: Driverless Cars and the Road of the Future (out in November 2018 from Public Affairs), to paint the picture.

Image for post
Image for post
Credit MOTOR Magazine — Arthur Radebaugh image courtesy of AACA Library & Research Center — Hershey, PA

The question is not whether New Yorkers will choose autonomous or conventional vehicles, but whether our cities should have cars at all.

Driverless cars have been a hot topic since the late 1950s, when Arthur Radebaugh drew Closer Than You Think, the syndicated Sunday comic strip seen on these pages — but never more so than today, when the technology is revving toward reality. That conversation, however, is largely led by the people who stand to profit from autonomous technology, and for that reason, it asks all the wrong questions. Despite think pieces on the Trolley Problem and op-eds extolling the safety of driverless cars as an answer to our dangerous roads, we are failing to discuss the most important question: whether we want cars — autonomous or not — in our cities at all.

Reclaim Magazine

The Official Magazine of Transportation Alternatives

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store