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The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • Gentrification
  • Volume 18, Number 3
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

Cautious Optimism About Driverless Cars and Land Use in American Metropolitan Areas

Brandon Fuller
New York University

Point of Contention: Driverless Cars
For this issue’s Point of Contention, we asked scholars with substantial knowledge of the topic to argue for or against the following proposition—“Over time, driverless cars will work a huge change in the built environment of the American city. Automated vehicle guidance will so increase the safety and efficiency of the transport system that a large portion of the land and capital currently required for parking, roads, gas stations, and car repair can be released to housing, nonautomobile commerce, foot traffic, and other uses.” Please contact alastair.w.mcfarlane@hud.gov to suggest other thought provoking areas of controversy.


Driverless vehicles will enhance mobility in America’s metropolitan areas, connecting people to a greater set of jobs and amenities. Fleetwide autonomy will mean lighter vehicles, many of which will be electric—reducing the environmental costs associated with many of today’s individual trips in private cars. Driverless vehicles also will create the potential for a big change in the spatial structure of American cities. The accessibility of land on the urban periphery will improve, as will the accessibility of urban land that currently lacks access to transportation services. In addition, land that currently is used for cars—such as surface parking lots—can be reallocated to other uses, such as parks, foot traffic, cycling, housing, or retail goods and services.

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