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Automated Vehicles are coming!

In late February, I attended the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s Public Listening Summit on Automated Vehicle Policy. It was a good experience to hear so many leaders at U.S. DOT and from the public and private sectors discussing their principles for the development of automated vehicle policies, their hopes for the promise of automated vehicle technologies and their concerns about how technologies might be implemented. It was reassuring to hear from Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and others that the primary goal of automated vehicles should be to improve safety. At the National Bike Summit, Secretary Chao reinforced the importance of safety for all road users as a primary goal of the U.S. DOT.

Our panel on Complete Streets in the Age of Autonomous Vehicles also brought advocate experiences with automated vehicles to the national audience of the Summit for a lively and enlightening discussion about how automated vehicles may impact bicycle advocacy. Advocates in Pittsburgh are leading the way, pushing Uber and other AV developers to provide more transparent opportunities for bicyclist feedback on their interactions with them in response to Pittsburgh being one of 10 test sites for automated vehicles in the United States. You can learn more about their efforts and experiences here:

While the National Bike Summit was happening, it might have been easy to overlook the great variety of action happening related to Automated Vehicles at the federal level, including:

•  One for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
•  One for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
•  Two for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)

  • USDOT issued its Automated Vehicle Policy 2.0 last fall

•  An updated Federal Automated Vehicle Policy 3.0 is expected later this year and will address all surface modal administrations within the U.S. DOT

  • USDOT has published its guiding principles for the AV DATA initiative
  • The House of Representatives passed the SELF DRIVE Act last fall
  • The Senate has introduced the AV START Act

This extreme amount of activity makes one thing clear – Automated Vehicles are coming and the federal government is looking for ways to enable them to be tested, and likely sold, as soon as possible.

At the League of American Bicyclists, we are watching these developments with hope that automated vehicles will improve the safety of people who bike and walk, but also with concern as recent articles indicate that automated vehicles have difficulty detecting and reacting to people on bikes. With that in mind we are submitting the following comments to the FHWA and NHTSA requests for comment.

  • Comment to FHWA Request for Information on Integration of Automated Driving Systems (ADS) into the Highway Transportation System
  • Comment to NHTSA Request for Comments on Removing Regulatory Barriers for Automated Vehicles

You can learn more about our past advocacy and comments to USDOT policy by reading:

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