Invest in buses already…


What we need are not more energy-efficient cars or self-driving cars or, as president of Lyft, John Zimmer fantasized, privately owned fleets that are available for hire, but fewer cars entirely. We need people biking, walking, taking buses and trains and subways, or otherwise riding in something besides a free-ranging, 3,000-pound metal exoskeleton with an error-prone operator, digital or human. If safety is often cited as a prime reason for developing autonomous vehicles—about 36,000 Americans die in car accidents every year—then perhaps a better way of saving lives is to have fewer cars on the road, replaced by mass transit and other public options.

In contrast to all the hype and expense of autonomous vehicles—along with the regulatory and technical and economic uncertainty—bicycles, sidewalks, and public transport work exceedingly well. They are known quantities that can be strengthened and made more accessible with a fraction of the resources that have been poured into A.V. research. They are safe and enhance the urban experience. They contribute few, if any, emissions and don’t enrich a handful of oligarchs at the expense of the common interest.

Excerpted : Jacob Silverman/May 3, 2021 The New Republic