Are big city urban planners preparing for autonomous vehicles?


  • Julian Faid
  • Harvey Krahn
  • Naomi Krogman


Mobility, City planning, Advocacy, Canada, Autonomous vehicles


Given that our urban centres have been dominated by the private car for a hundred years, this paper asks what is next for Canadian cities. Previous research on the future of urban mobility, and specifically city planning and autonomous vehicles, has been from an American or Australian context. Working from a uniquely Canadian perspective, this paper fills a gap in the research by analyzing data from twenty-six semi-structured interviews with Canadian planning professionals from Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto. The interviews discuss how Canadian planners are preparing for new technologies, including autonomous vehicles, and increased privatization. We recommend that large cities move forward with autonomous vehicle research with a goal of improving mobility for all, while ensuring a strong agreement framework with all for-profit mobility providers is in place that requires robust data sharing agreements and appropriate consultation with municipalities before, during, and after launching. Further, planners should further embrace the political realities of their positions and advocate for equitable mobility for all residents both in their day-to-day work and in public engagement settings.