Times Square in New York City has been redesigned with pedestrian areas replacing spaces once dedicated to cars and trucks. Boston’s Central Artery has re-routed traffic to favour pedestrians and bicyclists while creating large public spaces similar to Times Square. Curbside parking is being replaced with painted pathways for bicycles and buses.
In Toronto there is greater focus on public transit. Rapid transit systems are being created throughout the region, many of which include dedicated lanes on existing roads. A regional transit system using Presto may soon make transit simpler and faster for all including those driving automobiles.
New forms of transportation are forcing change. Driverless cars will require narrower streets and can drive virtually “bumper-to-bumper” controlled by artificial intelligence technology to keep traffic moving more effectively than today’s traffic lights. Parking garages and surface lots will be repurposed as their need disappears.
Condominium communities will have to adapt to this future. Fewer parking spaces will exist for automobiles. More road space will be available for ride-share and service vehicles, bicycles, scooters and other personal transportation options. Above and below ground parking areas may one day be used for homes or recreation.
This utopian vision may not be exactly as expected. Driverless vehicles circling a block seeking fares could create gridlock. They may require parking areas to wait between fares. Electric scooters and driverless delivery vehicles may compete for space alongside bicycles, pedestrians, driverless vehicles and other forms of personal transportation.
Urban areas are retrofitting highways to prepare for the future of transportation. Around the world cities are implementing increased parking fees, congestion pricing, sliding-scale tolls that are higher during peak times, and penalties for ride-share vehicles driving with empty seats. There appears to be a concerted effort to encourage use of public and non-automobile transit options.
The city of the future is a moving target. Today’s roads, highways, automobiles and parking systems took decades of experimentation and have never been perfected. We’re now planning for dramatic change to all of this for people not yet born. Things could change. This is a time of experimentation in transportation improvements around the world to prepare for more congested cities of the future.