Transportation Innovations Reduce Pollution and Improve Safety

An article in CityLab highlights the “Biggest Transportation Breakthroughs of 2014.” These breakthroughs range from developing driverless vehicles, building high-speed rails, to banning vehicles in city centers to reduce pollution and improve safety

Two examples of innovative approaches are listed below.

The Self-Driving Car Conquers Cities. As CityLab first reported, back in April, Google’s self-driving car has graduated from the relative simplicity of freeways (speed up, slow down, shift lanes) to the dynamic hazards of urban roadways. The company upped the ante a month later by releasing early (and adorable) design prototypes for an autonomous car that it hopes to produce and test on California streets. It’s only a matter of time before these transformative cars—or ones inspired by them—will reach streets near you.

Europe Strikes Back Against Traffic. Several major European cities issued dramatic restrictions to drivers this year. Madrid will ban cars in the city center for non-residents; Paris will do the same and reserve some roads exclusively for cleaner hybrid and electric cars; London will enhance its low-emission zone into an ultra-low-emission zone. These policies help address two of the huge invisible social costs of driving—congestion and pollution—and will hopefully inspire other major global cities to follow suit.