Random thoughts. I'm actually pretty optimistic about AVs as far as comfort for other people on the roads, especially cycling.

*If* we get to a point where I feel at least as much trust that the robot will see me as the average driver - and building this trust is probably easier than people imagine - I can cycle without worrying about abuse, harassment and unsafe passing from drivers who are irrationally upset by the presence of cyclists. Robots will have no such feelings :)

Why do I think it won't be too hard to gain that trust - note I'm not talking about the technical side of identifying cyclists. I have no idea about that and how close we are.

I mean from the human side, why will I feel safe knowing autonomous cars are driving around me? Well, it's not like I get to make eye contact with every human driver and assess whether they seem sane, competent and calm, particularly drivers behind me. Some trust is already involved. I've cycled in countries where [...]

... I felt much safer than in Australia, and it took a remarkably little time to build that trust, based on the behaviour of a subset of drivers, and apply it to the drivers as a whole. Without being able to speak to or in some cases even see drivers, you can get a vibe of whether you are respected as just another person getting down the road, or an aberrant other getting in the way.


And if the robots are all chill, below-the-speed-limit drivers, it will become much more difficult for other drivers to speed around them, and people will have to unlearn aggressive driving even if they still want to drive themselves.

I'm now kinda looking forward to a future where I take over Mitchell Road, side by side with my fellow cyclist, without fear or guilt. Got to be optimistic about something in this messed up world!

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@jroper I used to cycle to work in Switzerland. Swiss drivers were the most chill, respectful drivers I've seen anywhere. And yet, thousands of cyclists are injured or killed in traffic accidents every year in Switzerland: astra.admin.ch/astra/fr/home/d

What would make me feel safe is banning cars.

@benjamingeer "Dans la majorité des cas, ces accidents étaient le résultat d’un dérapage ou d’une perte de maîtrise du vélo, et les cyclistes en étaient souvent les responsables." and for ebikes they say 3/4 were due to the cyclist. So most of them are still occuring without cars.

Of course, the feeling of safety is a subjective thing, and is just as important as objective safety in influencing people to cycle or not. And I have no problem with banning cars, all for it!

@benjamingeer But trying to cheer myself up with the positives of some alternative futures too.

In a world where every AV ends up travelling at the speed of the slowest cyclist, they may also effectively eliminate themselves as everyone who doesn't need to be in a car finds that they can get around faster and/or cheaper on a bike...

@jroper They say it was the cyclist's fault, but they don't say no car was involved. This seems to mean that if you skid on a wet street or get distracted, you deserve to be hit by a car. I disagree with this. Streets should be safe enough that it's OK to get distracted. This is especially important to make it possible for children to get around by bike.

In many cities, cars are already slower than bikes, but that hasn't generally led to a massive uptake of cycling. blogs.scientificamerican.com/p

@jroper I fear that since AVs are deployed with a human driver who is supposed to take over whenever the computer has trouble, collisions will continue to be accepted, but the human operator will be blamed for the failings of the machine: papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf

Here's the sort of alternative future that I cheer myself up with: francetvinfo.fr/meteo/particul

@benjamingeer yeah, I'm differentiating speed in the moment versus total journey speed, because most people who drive in these areas still don't know that and base their choicesmore on their perceptions of momentary speed. But, then the argument occurs that if people are sitting in their AVs reading a book they will no longer be focused on momentary speed either. But maybe then they'll get more familiar with door to door speeds of all the modes available to them. Who knows.

@benjamingeer I think people are reading this like I'm some sort of AV booster. I'm not, I don't do any of my work in that direction because I don't think it's a useful direction for sustainable transport.

I'm writing these things while shaking my head at all the single occupant cars going by, and thinking that if AVs *are* going to appear, maybe at least I can gleefully cycle in front of them on any road I like.

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