University of Iowa

Iowa City Automated Vehicle Adaptation and Equity Plan

Graduate students in the School of Urban & Regional Planning, in conjunction with the City of Iowa City and National Advance Driving Simulator, completed a plan to help Iowa City prepare for the anticipated impacts of automated vehicles on the built environment and community.

This project focused on increasing availability of ride hailing services and automated vehicles (AV) and associated changes in mobility services and urban space. The project examined allocation of urban space and public transport in Iowa City as mobility technologies evolve, and the equity implications of those changes. Guiding elements throughout the project included: 

  • An economic and equity analysis of the potential for subsidized ride hailing services to fill gaps in current public transportation offerings, expand access to jobs and healthcare, and meet daily needs for disadvantaged and mobility challenged individuals. Findings from this work will be used to inform Iowa City’s upcoming Transit Route Study. 
  • A parking and complete streets plan related to the phased implementation and expansion of AV and ride-sharing drop off areas and the associated reallocation of downtown parking and road space. 
  • A land use and transportation study to guide staged implementation and integration of exclusive pedestrian and low-speed AV traffic zones in Iowa City and implications for urban land use. 

The final planning document provides policy guidance to the City of Iowa City in the areas of public transportation services, parking, street design, and land use. The final plan provides both medium term (5-10 year) and long term (10-20 year) recommendations to decision makers and stakeholders. 

Additional Information

In 2017, the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids Corridor, in partnership with the UI National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS), was designated by the U.S. DOT as one of ten automated vehicle proving grounds nationwide. This designation encourages data collection and infrastructure development that will facilitate the deployment of automated vehicle technology in the region. Working in concert with NADS and the City of Iowa City, the planning team will help to guide multi-faceted changes in the urban environment and ensure that AV technology provides equitable improvements in mobility and livability for all.