Wilshire Boulevard Study, Los Angeles, United States
Perkins+Will

The advent of autonomous technology has led some to predict that by 2030, 95% of all miles driven will be served by shared, electric autonomous vehicles. At the request of Lyft, a, Perkins+Will, in collaboration with Nelson\Nygaard, examined the potential impacts of such a fully autonomous shared environment on street design in a major city such as Los Angeles. 
 
24% of the land area in Los Angeles is currently dedicated to the movement or storage of cars. This space is used inefficiently (70% of cars carry a single occupant), and the experience for those not in cars is poor – pedestrians and bikes are often crowded out with transit being subjected to regular crippling delays.
 
The City of Los Angeles is looking to the future, with a goal of having half of all trips made by public transit, walking, and biking by 2035. By using policy incentives to move people from single occupancy vehicles to shared mobility, transit, and walking and biking, large amounts of public space  could be made available for open space, protected bike lanes and wider sidewalks. Harnessing technological advances will allow us to design streets for people , not just for cars.
 
A new vision for Wilshire Boulevard on the edge of the walkable Westwood / UCLA neighborhood demonstrate these possibilities. Today it serves as a major arterial street and feeder to the 405 Freeway.
 
In this study two modality scenarios were considered: the existing condition, and a shared fully autonomous scenario. A key to understanding the redesign of the street cross section is the change in the design metric  from vehicles-per-hour (vph) throughput to a people-per-hour (pph) throughput. This change moves away from the current bias towards SOV’s to favoring multiple occupancy vehicles.   
 
With an enhanced autonomous BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), bike lanes and pedestrian environments, in conjunction with a multi-occupant “Lyft-Line” adoption rate of 50%, the estimated through-put of Wilshire went from the current 29,600 pph to 77,000 pph in a considerably more bike and pedestrian friendly environment. This represents a people throughput increase of more than 250% in a street cross section with a 30% reduction in travel lanes. Beyond these spatial and mobility improvements, this shift to more efficient technology alongside an increase in active transportation will help the region meet its goal of 21% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.  
 
These outcomes are by no means guaranteed. Without active intervention on the part of the community and public leadership, the shift to autonomy may simply bring more of the same congestion issues we see today. This scenario is presented as an inspiration and represents just one example of a potential positive outcome with the shift to shared autonomous mobility, based on the specific vision and demands of the City of Los Angeles and Wilshire Boulevard. When scaled up to multiple streets in multiple cities, a proactive approach to policy and design could bring wide-sweeping positive change to streets and the public realm in the near future.

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