AV symposium seeks to develop policy for cities and address mobility for all

How will driverless cars and other autonomous vehicle (AV) technology change the way we plan cities?

On October 6, 2017, 85 of the nation’s top thinkers on AV gathered at the National League of Cities (NLC) headquarters in Washington, D.C., to discuss and plan for the impacts of AV on cities and regions.

This event — a collaboration between APA, NLC, Mobility E3, George Mason University, Mobility Lab, the Eno Center for Transportation, and the Brookings Institution — was convened to set the direction for future research, education, and other efforts by identifying policy needs to get cities and regions ready for a revolutionary new technology that will transform the way we think about transportation, transit, and land use. (View the agenda, speakers, and attendees at www.planning.org/research/av/.)

Managing Director of Research and Advisory Services David Rouse kicked off the eventwith a brief summary of how we have worked through the first phase of exploring the possible implications of AV and have moved into the next phase of developing solutions. Kenneth Petty, FHWA director of planning, then spoke about the need to change how we think about transit and technology in order to improve safety, mobility, and efficiency. Jeff Tumlin, principal and director of strategy with Nelson\Nygaard, shared the pros and cons of the future revenue model for AV and the need for cities to consider congestion pricing to counteract urban sprawl.

Discussion panels throughout the morning tackled three questions:

  1. How can autonomous vehicle technology expand access to healthcare, employment, education, and recreation for users of all ages, abilities, and incomes?
  2. How will autonomous vehicles impact the transportation ecosystem?
  3. What are the potential benefits and costs of widespread deployment of autonomous vehicles for cities and metropolitan regions? ​

Lisa Nisenson of Alta Planning + Design presents as part of the land use and built environment panel along with David Rouse, Nico Larco, and Jeff Tumlin. Nisenson was one of the most-quoted attendees of the event, with Twitter users crediting her with: “Scooter share is a thing,” “Rarely does any effort get funded or off the ground unless it’s in the comprehensive plan,” and “We’re gonna get hacked, but not if we’re on our bicycles.” View all tweets about the event using the hashtag #AVConnect. Photo by Jennifer Henaghan.

Attendees spent the afternoon in a scenario-planning exercise led by Kelley Coyner and Lisa Nisenson. The scenario put attendees in the shoes of a planning director whose council members are anxious about AV and how it will affect the city’s transit, infrastructure, built environment, and economic competitiveness.

Participants identified specific subtopics that would need to be addressed in the areas of equity and access, the transportation network, and land use and the built environment. They also identified the best examples of work that is currently being done in cities to address the three main areas of concern (such as Seattle’s $0.14 per-ride charge on transportation network company rides — Uber, Lyft, and similar rideshare models, or South America’s bus-only streets).

David Rouse, FAICP, opens the symposium with a recognition of how quickly AV technology is moving and the need to begin strategizing solutions for cities and regions. With him onstage are Kenneth Petty, Jeff Tumlin, and Kelley Coyner. Photo by Jennifer Henaghan.

Over the next three months, the six convening organizations will use the discussion and insights gained from the symposium to draft a playbook of actions (to include key issues for land use planning, transportation planning, and fiscal impacts) and an agenda for further research. The playbook will be shared with all symposium attendees and made available to the public by mid-December 2017.

APA is also preparing a searchable, curated resource collection on autonomous vehicles (including reports, webinars, and more from symposium attendees) that will be released in early November 2017. This resource collection, part of APA’s Research KnowledgeBase, will be made available to the public at www.planning.org/knowledgebase.

As momentum grows on Capitol Hill and among industry leaders for AVs, APA is working on a variety of fronts to help planners prepare for AVs and to ensure good outcomes for local communities. To help shape federal legislation and regulatory action on AVs, the APA Legislative and Policy Committee is working on a set of policy principles that is anticipated to be released in early 2018.

This winter, Zoning Practice will focus on the likely impacts of autonomous vehicle on local planners. Author Don Elliott, FAICP, will discuss the need to plan for a world in which the roads will be shared by AVs and non-AVs in an upcoming issue of this publication, which is available by subscription or individual-issue purchase at www.planning.org/zoningpractice.

In addition, APA’s Planning Advisory Service (PAS) will release a PAS Report on autonomous vehicles in 2018. This in-depth report by Timothy Chapin, Jeremy Crute, William Riggs, and Lindsay Stevens, AICP, will offer planning practitioners a detailed investigation of AV technology and the associated challenges and opportunities it poses for planning, the built environment, policy making, and infrastructure. All 37,000-plus APA members and PAS subscribers will be able to download the report, and others may purchase a PDF version at www.planning.org/pas/reports.

Top image: Jeff Tumlin of Nelson\Nygaard delivers the keynote address. Photo by Jennifer Henaghan.

Jennifer Henaghan, AICP, is APA’s deputy research director.

Kelley Coyner

Kelley Coyner serves as a senior fellow at the Center for Regional Analysis and Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. A veteran of public, private, and nonprofit sectors, Coyner has served at all levels of government and in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. She has served as an expert on a variety of transportation and performance evaluation research panels of the National Academy of Engineering and The Transportation Research Board. She has a long history in the transportation field, including service as the administrator of Research and Special Programs at the U.S. DOT. She is the former executive director of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and previously served as chief of staff to the National Capital Region’s Senior Policy Group on homeland security and emergency management. A native Texan, Coyner holds a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a law degree from University of Virginia.


David Rouse, FAICP

David Rouse, FAICP, is a certified planner and registered landscape architect with over 30 years of private, public, and nonprofit sector experience in community planning, design, and implementation. As APA’s research director, he oversees the Planning Advisory Service and the three National Centers for Planning (Green Communities, Hazards Planning, and Planning and Community Health). Prior to joining APA Rouse was a principal of WRT, a nationally recognized planning, urban design, landscape architecture, and architecture consulting firm based in Philadelphia.


Kenneth Petty

Kenneth Petty is the Director for the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Office of Planning. He is responsible for leading and advocating for the statewide, metropolitan, rural, and tribal transportation planning program and is responsible for directing the development of policies, regulations, directives, and techniques to carry out the planning process. Prior to this position, he served as the Planning Capacity Building Team Leader where he provided strategic direction in developing Federal regulations and policies relating to the implementation of performance-based transportation planning programs. He develops and delivers products and services that provide information, training, and technical assistance to transportation professionals responsible for planning for the needs of the nation’s surface transportation system. Ken has 21 years of experience with FHWA, including 15 years in the FHWA Office of Planning. Ken has a Master’s Degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of the District of Columbia.


Jeff Tumlin

As principal and director of strategy with Nelson\Nygaard, Jeff Tumlin is an expert in helping communities move from discord to agreement about the future. For more than 20 years, Tumlin has led award-winning plans in cities from Seattle and Vancouver to Moscow and Abu Dhabi. He helps balance all modes of transportation in complex places to achieve a community’s wider goals and best utilize their limited resources. He has developed transformative plans throughout the world that accommodate millions of square feet of growth with no net increase in motor vehicle traffic. Tumlin is renowned for helping people define what they value and building consensus on complex and controversial projects. He provides residents and stakeholders the tools they need to evaluate their transportation investments in the context of achieving their long-term goals. He understands that managing parking and transportation demand is a critical tool for revitalizing city centers and creating sustainable places.


Brooks Rainwater

As senior executive and director of the National League of Cities’ Center for City Solutions, Brooks Rainwater drives the organization’s research agenda, leadership education, and community engagement efforts to help municipal leaders create strong local economies, safe and vibrant neighborhoods, world-class infrastructure, and a sustainable environment. As an advocate for strong local leadership, Rainwater often speaks and writes on the subject, and has published numerous reports and articles on innovative solutions that lead to vibrant and successful cities. His recent research and interests include advancements in technology and city innovation, the sharing economy, and how the rise of state preemption is impacting local authority.


Darnell Grisby

Darnell Grisby is an expert on the emerging urban mobility landscape and its impact on economic development. His work has been featured in the New York TimesWall Street Journal, National Public Radio and other outlets. He is an experienced practitioner of the complete set of tools to influence policy. He was named among the “Top 40 Under 40′ by Mass Transitmagazine, a Next City Vanguard, is a graduate of the Urban Land Institute’s Regional Land Use Leadership Program and has degrees from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a native of Riverside, California and currently resides in the walkable core of Washington, D.C.


Jana Lynott, AICP

Jana Lynott is responsible for the development of AARP policy related to livable communities adopted by the AARP Policy Council and Board of Directors. Lynott is the project director for AARP’s Livability Index, a first-of-its-kind online tool designed to help communities better serve their residents across the lifespan. She received her master’s in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia. She serves on the Transportation Research Board’s Safe Mobility for Older Persons committee and the Transportation Cooperative Research Program’s Development of Open Data Standards for Demand Responsive Transportation Transactions project panel.


Laurie Schintler

Dr. Laurie A. Schintler is an Associate Professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. At the school, she heads up the Digital Analytics Center at the Center for Organizational Performance and Integrity, and is an Associate Director of the Center for Study of International Medical Practices and Policies and Director of the Transportation, Policy, Operations and Logistics masters program. Dr. Schintler is Councillor-at-Large for the Regional Science Association International and a founding member of the Regional Science Academy. She is also recipient of a patent for “System and method for analyzing the structure of logical networks” and co-founder of the company Fortiusone (Geoiq), a geospatial data intelligence company initially focused on developing analytical solutions and tools for homeland security. Dr. Schintler received her Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.


Paul Mackie

Paul Mackie has been communications director at Mobility Lab since 2012. Previously he was climate change communications director at The Nature Conservancy and director of media relations at the World Resources Institute. Mackie has been quoted on transportation issues by USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, NPR, and many others. He has spoken at many conferences, including MIT’s Disrupting Mobility, Innovate Raleigh, and various state and national transportation events. Mackie received the 2015 Excellence in Advocacy Award and 2013 Presidents Award from the Association of Commuter Transportation.


Stephen Buckley, AICP

Steve Buckley currently serves as the northeast regional manager for WSP’s Planning, Environment and Traffic practices. Buckley is a licensed engineer and certified planner, and has over 20 years of experience in many aspects of the transportation industry, including design, operations, maintenance, policy, planning, programming, and funding. Buckley most recently served as general manager of transportation for the City of Toronto. Previously he led the Transportation Division of the Philadelphia Streets Department and was the director of policy and planning for the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities for the City of Philadelphia.


Paul Lewis

Paul Lewis is vice president of policy and finance at the Eno Center for Transportation. In that capacity, he directs Eno’s policy research programs, including paper development and event organization. He received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Ohio Northern University and his M.S. Transportation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Kevin Vincent

Keith Vincent was chief counsel of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from 2009 to 2015 as part of the Obama administration. He is currently director of regulatory and safety affairs for Faraday Future, a new California-based electric vehicle manufacturer.


David Dixon

David Dixon is a senior principal and urban design group leader at Stantec. Residential Architecture Magazine named Dixon to its Hall of Fame as “the person we call to ask about cities.” In recent years he’s led planning in post-Katrina New Orleans, transformed strip malls into new suburban downtowns, and initiated a broad reappraisal of the role of density in building more livable, resilient, and equitable communities. A sought-after expert in urban planning and design, Dixon is well known for helping create new, mixed-use urban districts (in both cities and suburbs) and the planning, revitalization, and redevelopment of downtowns.


Nico Larco

Nico Larco is an associate professor of architecture at the University of Oregon and is a co-founder and co-director of the Sustainable Cities Initiative, a nationally and internationally awarded, multidisciplinary organization that focuses on sustainability issues as they relate to the built environment. Larco’s research focus is on sustainable urban design and how technological advances are changing city form and development. Larco has received numerous national and international awards for his work and was recently a Distinguished Fulbright Scholar in Spain.


Lisa Nisenson

Lisa Nisenson has 20 years of experience in sustainable city design and helping cities adopt innovation. She currently leads Alta Planning + Design’s New Mobility Group and is founder of GreaterPlaces, a tech startup aggregating all aspects of city design in one site and forthcoming mobile app.


Linda Bailey

Linda Bailey is the executive director of NACTO. Prior to this position, she was the federal policy advisor for New York City Department of Transportation for six years, where she was also a key advisor for NACTO. In her role at NACTO, she works on policy initiatives based on member city priorities at the national and federal levels, which include everything from regulatory support for innovative design to automated vehicles. Before working for the City of New York, she worked for six years on national research projects regarding the intersection of the environment, health and transportation. Bailey has a master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan.


Brian Hoeft

Brian Hoeft is the the director of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada’s Freeway & Arterial System of Transportation (FAST). He is also an instructor with the University of Phoenix and has taught coursework on intelligent transportation systems at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas.

For more information on this effort, or to suggest a resource for the KnowledgeBase, contact Jennifer Henaghan at jhenaghan@planning.org.