‘Cyclists Can’t Decide Whether To Fear Or Love Self-Driving Cars’

‘Cyclists Can’t Decide Whether To Fear Or Love Self-Driving Cars’ (yahoo.com)



from the critical-masses dept.

“Many bike riders are hopeful about a world of robot drivers that never experience road rage or get distracted by their phones,” reports the Washington Post. “But some resent being guinea pigs for driverless vehicles that veer into bike lanes, suddenly stop short and confuse cyclists trying to navigate around them.

“In more than a dozen complaints submitted to the DMV, cyclists describe upsetting near misses and close calls… ”
Of the nearly 200 California DMV complaints analyzed by The Post, about 60 percent involved Cruise vehicles; the rest mostly involved Waymo. About a third describe erratic or reckless driving, while another third document near misses with pedestrians. The remainder involve reports of autonomous cars blocking traffic and disobeying road markings or traffic signals… Only 17 complaints involved bicyclists or bike lane disruptions. But interviews with cyclists suggest the DMV complaints represent a fraction of bikers’ negative interactions with self-driving vehicles. And while most of the complaints describe relatively minor incidents, they raise questions about corporate boasts that the cars are safer than human drivers, said Christopher White, executive director of the San Francisco Bike Coalition… Robot cars could one day make roads safer, White said, “but we don’t yet see the tech fully living up to the promise. … The companies are talking about it as a much safer alternative to people driving. If that’s the promise that they’re making, then they have to live up to it….”

Many bicycle safety advocates support the mission of autonomous vehicles, optimistic the technology will cut injuries and deaths. They are quick to point out the carnage associated with human-driven cars: There were 2,520 collisions in San Francisco involving at least one cyclist from 2017 to 2022, according to state data analyzed by local law firm Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger. In those crashes, 10 cyclists died and another 243 riders were severely injured, the law firm found. Nationally, there were 1,105 cyclists killed by drivers in 2022, according to NHTSA, the highest on record…

Meanwhile, the fraction of complaints to the DMV related to bicycles demonstrates the shaky relationship between self-driving cars and cyclists. In April 2023, a Waymo edged into a crosswalk, confusing a cyclist and causing him to crash and fracture his elbow, according to the complaint filed by the cyclist. Then, in August — days after the state approved an expansion of these vehicles — a Cruise car allegedly made a right turn that cut off a cyclist. The rider attempted to stop but then flipped over their bike. “It clearly didn’t react or see me!” the complaint said.

Even if self-driving cars are proven to be safer than human drivers, they should still receive extra scrutiny and aren’t the only way to make roads safer, several cyclists said.

Thanks to Slashdot reader echo123 for sharing the article.

“Probably the best operating system in the world is the [operating system]
made for the PDP-11 by Bell Laboratories.” – Ted Nelson, October 1977


Read More