Cycling groups urge caution on autonomous vehicle testing

This is a wake up call for the AV companies to double down and make sure their technology can see people on bikes and on foot
— Bike Pittsburgh

Two cycling groups have called for a more cautious approach to autonomous vehicle testing on public roads, in the wake of last week’s fatal crash between an Uber self-driving car and a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition wrote to the California Department of Motor Vehicles urging it to halt plans to issue any permits for autonomous vehicle testing in California until a National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the crash is complete.

Referring to the DMV’s ability to begin issue testing permits from early April, the coalition’s Executive Director Brian Wiedenmeier wrote: “There is no benefit to the public in rushing this process, especially in light of events that call into question the safety of this technology as developed and deployed by Uber in Arizona as well as enforcement of AV test driver qualifications and standards of behavior.”



People who walk and cycle in San Francisco “would be put in the greatest danger if unsafe technology is rushed to fully autonomous testing without understanding any potentially fatal flaws,” wrote Wiedenmeier.

Elsewhere, Bike Pittsburgh highlighted a statement from the National Association of City Transportation Officials, which called on companies testing autonomous vehicles to support a clear minimum safety standard.

“Right now, the only people we have to trust whether or not the technology is safe are the companies themselves, and they need to build that trust with the public,” said Bike Pittsburgh in a blog post referring to the crash.

“This is a wake up call for the AV companies to double down and make sure their technology can see people on bikes and on foot, and for our cities to double down on making sure our streets are safe for bicyclists and pedestrians.”