In the face of driverless vehicle technology, architecture firm EDG has proposed converting several existing roadways to form Loop NYC, a series of driverless vehicle highways around and through the heart of New York City.
With the advent and fine-tuning of driverless vehicle technology, industries concerned with building the cities of the future have begun to propose ways in which new urban spaces can be freed up by the reduction of vehicle usage. The Loop NYC ‘micro-highway’ is one such proposal that would see several existing major streets of New York City converted into autonomous vehicle highways.
The design relies on the proposal of a super-highway that diverts driverless vehicles around the perimeter of New York City and across a series of several major cross-streets. These cross streets will form ‘loops’ for the vehicles to circle.
The FDR Drive and West Side Highway would, according to the proposal, have one lane in each direction designated for automated vehicles that would connect to selected exclusive crosstown lanes at 14th, 23rd, 42nd 57th, 86th and 110th Streets. Once inside Manhattan, driverless vehicles would use these as designated expressway loops.
By freeing up a significant stretch of the city and elevating a series of pedestrian walkways and cycleways, EDG calculates a severe reduction in commute times. For example, the trip from Grand Central to Lower Manhattan via the Loop NYC, traditionally a 40-minute ride, could be completed in 11 minutes.
Once existing streets have been superseded by Loop NYC, a 21-kilometre-long pedestrian promenade could be constructed to stretch the length of the city. Beginning in Battery Park, the pedestrian green would split at Union Square, continuing north on both Broadway and Park Avenue. This public space would be a pastoral park filled with bike paths, trees, and rolling hills over the tunnelled cross streets below.
Further expansion of the median on Park Avenue would result in additional opportunities for pedestrians and cyclists to ride or walk almost 39 kilometres up and down the length of Manhattan.
The implementation of Loop NYC and the freeing up of city greenspaces would provide several environmental and economic benefits to the city’s inhabitants and visitors. Reducing the carbon footprint, maintaining a cooler city climate in the face of global warming and increased pedestrian and cycle access throughout the city would allow for greater incidental pass-by trade for many retail and commercial facilities.
John J Meyer, EDG founder and managing partner, explains:
“NYC, like so many urban centres, is facing an imminent infrastructure crisis as the continuous influx of residents will soon be insupportable. As a proactive response to the inevitable driverless vehicle technology, we created a solution that is simultaneously simple and implementable. By automating a portion of the traffic grid with driverless vehicles, we opened some really captivating opportunities to reimagine infrastructure, enabling us to reclaim both Broadway and Park Avenue to create parkland running the length of the island.”
The below video provides an excellent overview of the proposal's benefits to New York City.
Images courtesy EDG
Driverless Superhighway Loop Planned for The Big Apple