Letters to the Editor

Bieter letter: Urban transportation

It’s gratifying that something I’ve said as mayor has sparked a conversation about the future of our community, as my State of Downtown address apparently did with James Redfield (“Boise should start planning for a ‘driverless’ 2025,” May 3).

However, I must respond to Redfield’s contention that driverless cars and ride-share services like Uber will soon render urban mass transit obsolete. Many urban planners and transportation experts contend that such a future is, at least in the near term, unrealistic.

Driverless technology and ride-sharing won’t, by themselves, decrease the number of cars on the road. Traffic congestion, and its impact on local air quality and global climate, will only worsen in the future as our community grows. Even electric cars have a detrimental impact on the environment. And gridlock — whether you’re in a driverless car or not — is still gridlock.

Urban transportation is about maximizing the capacity of our limited routes. And nothing beats mass transit for moving the greatest number of people in a cost-effective manner.

Our best approach is to invest in a range of real transportation choices that account for cars, buses, rail, bikes and walking. None is more relevant to our future than another.

Driverless cars could be part of that future mix, but I’m still waiting for my “Jetsons” jetpack.

Mayor David H. Bieter, Boise