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Thoughts on AVs and San Francisco

The CPUC approved Cruise and Waymo to fully operate in San Francisco. Alternatively, autonomous murderbots reign of terror begins! My first thought isn't so much on the AVs themselves. Instead, it's "why cars?"

Uber/Lyft have demonstrably contributed to more traffic and more gridlock since they started. This creates more wasted time, more exhaust, more everything. Why not AV buses and trains? As an aside, where are my AV flying taxis? It's 2023 already!

If all these billions of investor dollars were put into better buses, subways, and trains--ahem high speed rail?--we'd have vastly better transit options than yet more cars. I'd almost be ok with private mass transit companies if they moved more people per square kilometer than all these cars everywhere. I think part of the challenge is mass transit is a really expensive endeavour, way beyond the reach of most LPs and investment firms. The timelines are too long, the expenses are high, and the regulatory environment is strict. Yet, airlines exist. 

I'm purposely sidestepping the entire "what do humans do when AVs take over taxi services?" I don't have an answer and there are smarter people than me working through it. And journalists thinking about it too. 

AV trucking, buses, trains, and airplanes will probably have a larger, better impact on our lives than AV cars. Probably better for the environment, too. 

I still don't know about riding bikes around the AV cars. I notice they wait until the last possible second to stop at stop signs. While I'm getting used to it, it still makes me wonder if they're going to stop or plow into me. It's the same when walking in a crosswalk. Friends think it's due to regenerative braking. The car is hoping to maximize regenerative braking and it figures it can stop on the line by applying maximal braking at the last moment. It's a theory, probably not a good one. Either way, it freaks out a lot of people having a really heavy car fly up on them without a human behind the wheel to acknowledge another human and stop in time. 

I'm learning more about urban design and planning whether I want to or not.