Automated vehicles are currently subject to a variety of state legislation that regulates how they can be deployed within states and how they must be tested to ensure safety. The League of American Bicyclists supports the development and deployment of automated vehicles. The League believes that automated vehicles will eventually improve the safety of people who bike and walk and provide opportunities for communities to create better places to bike and walk as vehicles become more law abiding and predictable. Automated vehicles cannot be distracted, should not be able to speed or otherwise violate traffic laws, and should be able to detect, recognize, and react to bicyclists and pedestrians as well as human drivers or better.
While the League believes that automated vehicles will be a positive development for people who bike and walk, we also believe that these positive benefits will not occur without active engagement on issues affecting the development and deployment of automated vehicles. This page provides an overview of our work on to ensure that automated vehicles improve transportation for everyone.
The League has featured automated vehicle safety at our most recent National Bike Summits:
- The 2019 National Bike Summit included a panel on Automated Vehicles - Just the Facts, Please!, which brought experts from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, National Transportation Safety Board, and Partners for Automated Vehicle Educaiton to the Summit. These experts provided data on current automated vehicle systems, how drivers use those systems, and what testing and crashes have told us about the ability of automated vehicle systems to make bicycling safer now and in the future.
- The 2018 National Bike Summit included a panel on Complete Streets in the Age of Autonomous Vehicles which 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: http://bikepgh.org/av
The League has been actively participating in federal actions related to Automated Vehicles, including:
- Recent comment periods for U.S. DOT:
- Comments on an AV pilot program submitted with the National League of Cities and National Association of Regional Councils
- One for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
- One for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
- USDOT issued its Automated Vehicle Policy 2.0 in fall 2017
- The House of Representatives passed the SELF DRIVE Act in 2018, and we opposed the Senate's AV START Act in 2018
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 engaging with 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 have submitted 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:
- This blog: http://bikeleague.org/content/will-automated-cars-make-bicyclists-safer
- General comments submitted to NHTSA regarding vehicles sensing bicyclists: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=NHTSA-2015-0119-0001
- Specific comments on the first edition of the USDOT Automated Vehicles Policy: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=NHTSA-2016-0090-1027