More Parks, Less Parking? Our Autonomous Vehicle Future
December 02, 2019
By Megan Agnew
Picture your morning commute where you no longer have to stressfully clench the steering wheel. Instead, you can sit back and do some work, read a good book or catch up on some sleep. While we may not be at the level of The Jetsons just yet, the way we get around is already drastically changing.
Last month, the Commercial Real Estate Development Corporation (“NAIOP”) held an event titled “The Future of Mobility: Autonomous Vehicles & Parking Trends.” Joe Brancato, Vice Chairman of Gensler, opened with a presentation on the future of cities and the game-changing impact of driverless cars. With rideshares, such as Uber and Lyft, electronic scooters and e-bikes, transportation is already changing. Brancato stated that by 2035, the majority of the population will travel via rideshares and self-driving vehicles. Autonomous vehicles will include the capability for intra-vehicle communication and sharing of traffic data, such as safety issues and delays. Vehicles will be able to park within inches of each other, resulting in a decreased demand for parking space.
There should be a variety of positive byproducts from autonomous vehicles. There will be more electric vehicles, leading to a reduction in carbon emissions. A decrease in human-error car accidents could save thousands of lives each year. However, challenges—such as legislative support, cybersecurity, insurance and overall safety—still exist and must be negotiated.
What does this mean for the future of real estate?
Widespread autonomous vehicles will change the ways we currently live and how we think about transportation. Existing parking lots, parking garages and car dealerships may give way to redevelopment space. Gas stations may become electric car battery exchanges or charging stations. Brancato stated that roadways and streetscapes will be redesigned to be more pedestrian-friendly and human-centric. Less parking could mean more green space. Developers are already starting to plan for converting parking space into a completely new-purpose space in the future.
Following Brancato’s presentation, a panel discussion (moderated by Jeremy Neuer of CBRE) provided some local insight. Panelists included Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna; and City of Newark Deputy Mayor Allison Ladd. Mayor Menna discussed how parking has been a long-standing issue for Red Bank. Although current demands show a need for additional parking, previous plans to build a parking structure have been abandoned as a result of the changing trends in mobility. Deputy Mayor Ladd recently joined Newark’s Department of Economic and Housing Development, coming from Washington, D.C.’s, Department of Housing and Community Development. Ladd noted the differences of traveling around D.C. versus Newark, such as D.C. residents’ use of bikes, buses and motorized scooters. Newark developers are now rethinking plans to meet current zoning requirements for parking, while planning for a future when parking may be obsolete.