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President's Message


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President's Message

The Self-Driving Car Debate

As if we didn’t have enough to deal with along comes the self-driving car. Yes, you heard right, a car that drives itself without anyone behind the wheel. One would think this was very futuristic, but the reality is the test are underway in parts of the country.

This week in Tempe Arizona a self-driving Uber car was involved in an accident with another vehicle. It seems the Uber car flipped on its side following the crash. Police reports do not blame the Uber car, but the photo of the self-driving car on its side is a little concerning. According to reports, Uber has suspended the test in all 3 states following the accident.

Uber self-driving cars got the attention of the California DMV when they failed to obtain an “autonomous license.” The State of California to its credit has been trying to get ahead of the technology. A quick search reveals a comprehensive program set of regulation for this new product being introduced into the market.

Brian Wiedenmeier from the San Francisco Bike Coalition writes in a December 2016 article about his experience as a passenger in a self-riding car. He reports his vehicle and others took the sharp right turn which as safety professional will confirm is a very dangerous place for a cyclist to be. The maneuver is linked to a number of serious injuries and fatalities.

Josh Patterson and Jamie Beach ask and interesting question regarding this technology in an October 2016 article. If the designers can perfect a system which will insure cars and cyclist do not try and grab the same space will it give the cyclist the upper hand for the first time? Will cars yield to the rider and open up a safe space for them to travel?

Whatever the answers are to these questions it is evident the self-driving automotive industry is moving full steam ahead. Cycling clubs like ours and other advocates of safe practices need to be alert to these changes. The Granite State Wheelmen which brings together people of all abilities who love to ride can play a substantial role in this and other discussions. Together we help make cycling safer for everyone.

Respectfully submitted,
Mark S. MacKenzie
GSW President

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