Congressman Blumenauer Introduces Bill to Study Community-Wide Influences of Autonomous Vehicles

First published on on May 8thl. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, introduced the Preparing Localities for an Autonomous and Connected Environment (PLACE) Act. This legislation would create a federally funded highly automated vehicle clearinghouse to examine the secondary influences of autonomous vehicles.
“With innovations in transit, rideshare, bikeshare, and scooters, the transportation sector is changing faster than ever before. Autonomous vehicles are coming faster than most of us realize and it is incumbent upon us to start planning now,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “Done right, Autonomous vehicles can increase mobility, improve social equity, and solve some of the country’s most vexing problems. Done wrong, we may repeat the mistakes of the past. The PLACE Act will allow us to have the research at our disposal to create more livable communities for all.”
The PLACE Act creates a federally funded clearinghouse that is housed at a higher education institution, like the Urbanism Institute at the University of Oregon. These facilities would be required to collect, conduct, and fund research to help understand how autonomous vehicles can influence land use, real estate, transportation, municipal budgets, urban design, the environment, and social equity. The proposed clearinghouse is funded at $2 million annually and would be chosen by the Secretary of Transportation within 180 days of enactment.
"Congressman Blumenauer is widely recognized as a pioneer in understanding the role of place in making communities resilient and livable. His bill would establish an essential resource for communities to manage impacts from autonomous vehicles," said Michael H. Schill, University of Oregon president and professor of law. "The clearinghouse would speed the dissemination of research by programs like the Urbanism Next Center, an initiative of UO's Sustainable Cities Institute."
“The implications of autonomous vehicles touch virtually every aspect of community planning,” said American Planning Association President Kurt Christiansen, FAICP.  “Communities are working now to identify the right policies to ensure that new mobility technologies enhance and expand quality of life and livability. The access to critical information and research provided by the PLACE Act is essential to helping communities get our AV future right.”
Current legislative frameworks being debated in Congress would delineate state, local, and federal roles in regulating autonomous vehicles while also setting cybersecurity, safety, and data standards. However, little attention has been paid to the secondary influences of autonomous vehicles once they are deployed onto the roads. The proposed clearinghouse is funded at $2 million annually and would be chosen by the Secretary of Transportation within 180 days of enactment.