An 80-year-old cyclist from County Durham has been killed in a collision involving a Tesla car in what may be the first fatality of a bike rider involving a semi-autonomous vehicle.
It’s the first time we are aware of a cyclist being killed in a road traffic collision involving a car capable of semi-autonomous operation, certainly in the UK, and we suspect it may be the first such incident anywhere in the world.
It is not clear whether the car was in Autopilot, or semi-autonomous, mode at the time of the fatal crash, but concerns have been raised in the past over the safety of such vehicles, including around cyclists, with a robotics expert warning earlier this year that “bikers will die” as a result of the technology.
Last month we highlighted concerns raised in a review of another car with semi-autonomous operation – the new BMW G32 640iGT – around cyclists on the road.
> Semi-autonomous BMW ‘will fight’ driver to deliver close passes of cyclists
Infrastructure obviously needs a physical implementation strategy, but it should also include an engagement strategy that meets people where they are and helps move them, slowly and methodically, towards shared benefit. Careful communications can help.
Urban planners talk about two visions of the future city: heaven and hell. Hell, in case it’s not clear, is bad—cities built for technologies, big companies, and vehicles instead of the humans who actually live in them. And hell, in some ways, is here. Today’s US cities are dominated by highways there were built by razing residential neighborhoods. Few sidewalks and fewer bike lanes. It’s all managed by public policies that incentivize commuting in your car. Alone. Trapped in traffic.
But if humans no longer have to spend time piloting vehicles through traffic, what happens to cities? And what if autonomous vehicles actually make things worse? Yes, traveling will be easier, but that means everyone—even those without drivers licenses—will be able to do it. Maybe Americans will live farther apart, extending their commutes—no harm done when you can catch up with your shows instead of drive, right? The result could be a lot more trips and a lot more traffic. It would seem the old adage is true: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Which means cities need to start thinking now about how to incorporate AVs into future planning. To that end, on Monday, the National Association of City Transportation Officials, an international, 60-city organization of very serious transportation planners and engineers, published its own vision of the Promised Land, a 50-page blueprint outlining how to account for our autonomous future and build in flexible options that could result in less traffic for everyone, not just those riding on four wheels. “We don’t just need new software running on our streets—we need to update the hardware of the streets themselves,” says Janette Sadik-Khan, a former transportation head in New York City during the Bloomberg administration who now serves on the board for NACTO. “That’s why we need a new roadmap that puts humans first.”
A pernicious assumption may be at play here: the idea that any bike rack is better than no bike rack and really any metal contraption that’s bolted to the ground will do. Not so. In the same way that an urban business would never clear out a muddy field around their building and declare that they’ve provided a parking lot for drivers, installing low-quality bike parking can often times be worse than installing nothing at all.
Thankfully, making bicyclists feel welcome is easy and inexpensive for any business owner or landlord. I’ll break down the qualities of a good bike rack into five criteria: location and proximity, protection from the elements, visibility, volume, and form.
This bike rack fits a ton of bikes into a small space and protects them from the elements.
Howell Council has approved and submitted a grant for trail funds to connect Allaire State park through Howell. Thanks so much for all your help! Let’s keep this rolling- we’re moving on to Monmouth County and the Freeholders with another petition.
If you haven’t done so already, please sign and share our NEW petition. http://bit.ly/2A0U9AY
London’s plans for Oxford Street show that even the busiest roads can ban vehicles—but there’s one major misstep.
Finally, it’s happening. After years of discussion, London’s Oxford Street is being pedestrianized. A key London axis known for its huge popularity as a place to shop—and its equally huge pollution problem—Oxford Street has endured for years as a notorious fume trap because it’s such a vital corridor for buses. As you might imagine, tidying up has been a logistical headache. But if it works here, the plan could become a template for any city that wants to turn a busy thoroughfare into car-free zone.
There’s no reason that cars in urban areas should be capable of traveling more than 20 mph.
Slowing cars with speed limit reductions and enforcement is only part of the solution:
“A ramming attack carried out at 20 mph is not going to cause great harm. A vehicle moving at 20 mph can more easily be evaded, and any impact is much less likely to be fatal.
If we address this vulnerability, not only would intentional vehicular attacks lose their destructive power, but the far, far larger number of traffic fatalities and injuries caused by ordinary negligence and recklessness would also plummet. The potential to prevent this routine violence and the staggering loss of life and limb it generates is the most compelling reason to cap car speeds.”
The other and even more effective is technology that prevents cars from traveling faster than 20mph in cities:
“The transition to 20 mph cars in cities would be far simpler than any hypothetical transition to all-out autonomy, while delivering huge public safety benefits. We can live in cities where cars don’t travel at lethal speeds. In fact, we should insist on it.”
Motorist speed is still the single biggest factor associated with pedestrian deaths.
OPINION: The “Phones Down, Heads Up” act won’t solve the real problems on Ontario’s roads. Liberal MPP Yvan Baker should drop his bad idea, writes John Michael McGrath
It’s never fun to watch a smart person do something dumb, and despite the criticism he’s getting from some corners this week, Liberal MPP Yvan Baker isn’t a dumb or malicious person. The rookie member of the legislature hasn’t ascended to cabinet, but he’s the parliamentary assistant to the finance minister (no small role) and has previously offered private member’s bills that address real problems in thoughtful and creative ways.
His latest, however, is a turkey. And it’s not a good time of year for poultry.
Following Honolulu’s lead, Baker introduced Bill 171 on Monday. The “Phones Down, Heads Up” act would impose fines on any pedestrian operating a cellphone or music player while crossing the road. The intent, he told reporters, was to raise awareness of the need for everyone on the road, including pedestrians, to be mindful of their surroundings.
The 2012 transportation law (MAP-21) required transportation agencies to begin using a new system of performance measures to govern how federal dollars are spent and hold them accountable for making progress on important goals, like congestion, traffic fatalities, reliability, road/bridge condition, mode share and carbon emissions. For two years, USDOT worked to establish this new system, soliciting reams of public feedback, and finalizing the measures in January of this year.
Climate impacts aside, tracking carbon emissions is one of the best ways to judge how efficiently we’re moving people and goods. More on that in a minute.
The Trump Administration is attempting to repeal this carbon emissions measure. Take action and provide an official comment to USDOT in support of keeping it intact. (Official notice here)