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Here She Is, the Safest Driver in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES — If you can navigate the maze of roads and freeways in this city and choose not to break a single traffic law, congratulations. You deserve a prize.That prize could have been $20,000, in fact, if you had enrolled in the first L.A.’s Safest Driver contest this summer. Deborra Sarei, 46, a resident of Downey, Calif., who takes the 105 to the 605 to Lakewood each morning to drop off her daughter at school, knew she was up to the two-month challenge. She faced off against 11,500 other entrants who reside in, or drive in and near, the city of Los Angeles. They participated by…

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Our Cars Are Trying to Keep Us Safe. Here’s How.

Regrettably, personal jet packs and flux capacitors remain figures of science fiction and have not appeared in our garages. The same goes for fully self-driving automobiles.A few years ago, breathless analysts predicted we’d now be napping behind the wheel while commuting. Nope. Rip Van Winkle may find it popular in 20 years, but full Level Five autonomy is still a dream.Autonomy has been trickling into cars since the 1958 Chrysler Imperial introduced cruise control. It took nearly 40 years before the Mercedes-Benz S-Class ushered in basic Level One autonomy with Distronic adaptive cruise control that sensed slowing traffic braked to avoid impact.I have been reviewing cars since…

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Google and Waze Must Stop Sharing Drunken-Driving Checkpoints, New York Police Demand

[What you need to know to start the day: Get New York Today in your inbox.]Google’s navigation app Waze is known for providing real-time, user-submitted reports that advise drivers about potential thorns in their roadsides.But one feature has Waze in conflict with law enforcement officials across the country: how the app marks the location of police officers on the roads ahead or stationed at drunken-driving checkpoints.Over the weekend, the New York Police Department, the largest force in the nation, joined the fray, sending a letter to Google demanding that the tech giant pull that feature from Waze.In the letter, which was first reported on by Streetsblog, the…

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It’s Showtime for Elon Musk’s Boring Co., With a Long Way to Go

HAWTHORNE, Calif. — Fed up with Southern California vehicle snarls, Elon Musk set out to solve the persistent urban irritant: the traffic. But rather than build atop the highway system, where his Tesla cars travel, or in the sky, home to his SpaceX rockets, he sought an answer under his feet: tunnels.“I said, ‘What if we go down instead of up?’” Mr. Musk told Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles during a recent public discussion. “I’ve lived in L.A. now since 2002. Traffic has gone from bad to horrific back to bad.”On Tuesday, Mr. Musk unveiled the first mile-long stretch of his underground vision of a transit…

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A Toaster on Wheels to Deliver Groceries? Self-Driving Tech Tests Practical Uses

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Last Thursday morning in the desert town of Scottsdale, Ariz., a tiny robotic car turned onto a neighborhood street and pulled up to a home with a Spanish-tiled roof and synthetic grass in the front yard.Not even half the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, the toylike vehicle had no driver and no passengers. Instead, it held six bags of groceries from the Fry’s Food Store down the road. One observer oohed and aahed over how cute the car seemed.Designed by a start-up called Nuro, the vehicle was making a test run as part of a partnership with Fry’s on an autonomous delivery service. Starting…

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Urban Planning Guru Says Driverless Cars Won’t Fix Congestion

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Peter Calthorpe thinks Silicon Valley has it all wrong. He rejects the ideas of tech industry visionaries who say personal autonomous vehicles will soon be the solution to urban problems like traffic congestion.Mr. Calthorpe is a Berkeley-based urban planner who is one of the creators of New Urbanism, which promotes mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods. His designs emphasize the proximity of housing, shopping and public space.He is not opposed to autonomous vehicles. Mr. Calthorpe’s quarrel is with the idea that the widespread adoption of personally owned self-driving cars will solve transportation problems. In fact, he worries it will lead to more urban congestion and suburban…

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Billionaire’s Fight to Close Path to a California Beach Comes to a Dead End

“Whether you have to drive an hour to the coast and picnic or whether you can spend $32 million and buy property adjacent to the coast, the beach belongs to everybody,” said Eric Buescher, an attorney working on the case for the Surfrider Foundation. “The Coastal Act survives the whims of a billionaire and continues to protect the people of California.”If the Supreme Court had heard the case and ultimately ruled in favor of Mr. Khosla, the ruling could have not only reshaped the laws that govern 1,100 miles of California shoreline but also affected public access to beaches, lakes and waterways in 22 states, according to…

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The Shift: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Electric Scooters

In fact, the only scary scooter rides I had were the times that cars veered a little too close to the bike lane I was riding in. If cities want to encourage safe scooter riding — and they should, given the benefits they have for congestion and environmental health — they should create protected scooter lanes and encourage drivers to give them more room.2. Scooters are cluttering sidewalks, roads and other public spaces.This anti-scooter case was made most memorably by a columnist at The Los Angeles Times who complained that “these electric scooters are everywhere — roads, sidewalks, street corners, parking lots, boardwalks, apartment complex hallways —…

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