In sight of the multiple lockdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic the idea of self-driving vehicles has become ever more attractive. Just imagine your groceries and online shopping to be delivered by a driverless car. Moreover, autonomous vehicles (AVs) could be employed to deliver more fragile medical equipment or even patients, putting less people at risk of infection. Certainly, these are very peculiar images and hopes, partially restrained to these pandemic years. However, the question of whether AVs bring benefits to the environment and society are increasingly being discussed in literature. Norman Eppenberger and Maximilian Richter have contributed to this research by affirming that shared AVs (SAVs), can contribute to increasing social equity and increased socio-economic well-being in European cities.
Accessibility and social equity and socio-economic well-being Nowadays most countries “transport policies generally aim to improve accessibility and reduce the negative impacts of motorised transport” (Lucas, van Wee, & Maat, 2016, p. 474). Thus, accessibility has become a central concept in spatial and transportation planning (Geurs, Patuelli, & Dentinho, 2016, p. 3).
Geurs & van Wee, (2004) “define accessibility as the extent to which land-use and transport systems enable (groups of) individuals to reach activities or destinations by means of a (combination of) transport mode(s)” (p. 128). The authors also identify four components of accessibility in the literature: (1) land-use, (2) transportation, (3) temporal and (4) individual (Geurs & van Wee, 2004). Every component of accessibility can be distributed inequitably, and in turn, transportation and spatial planning policy affect equity in accessibility and cause socio-economic developments.