Bike Pittsburgh seeks input on cycling next to Uber’s self-driving cars


Photo of a bike lane on a road. Photo Credit: (MGN Online)

John Blinn, Assistant News Editor

PITTSBURGH — Bike Pittsburgh has distributed a survey asking pedestrians and bikers of the Steel City how they would feel traveling alongside vehicles that drive themselves.

In Sept. 2016, Uber came to the city of Pittsburgh to test their semi-autonomous vehicles (AVs), and a survey was released in response to these tests to determine how comfortable people would feel sharing the roads with these self-driving cars.

Now, almost three years later, Bike Pittsburgh is providing the public with surveys again to see how their opinions have changed.

The first set of surveys revealed that some pedestrians and bicyclists were experiencing close calls with the AVs including incidents where cars would come as close as four feet to people.

One person was even injured during the tests when an AV rode too close to a biker, forcing him to ride towards the train tracks and be launched from his bike. The incident resulted in the victim suffering a broken arm.

Despite these close calls and an injury, the results of the survey unveiled surprising opinions.

“The first survey results surprised us when it revealed that Pittsburghers actually felt slightly more comfortable sharing the road with AVs than they did with human drivers,” said Eric Boerer, BikePGH advocacy director. “However, we also discovered that incidents happened and people had no place to share their experiences. There’s no ‘how’s my driving’ sticker to report those close calls and no place for the city to collect cases that don’t require a police report.”

Gage Goulding

With other companies pursuing AV technology alongside Uber, and the constant and rapid growth of technology made Bike Pittsburgh believe that this was an appropriate time to release another survey.

“Since the first survey, a lot has happened,” said Boerer. “That’s why Bike Pittsburgh feels it’s time to get an update on Pittsburghers’ opinions of sharing the road with AVs.”

Bike Pittsburgh hopes to use these surveys and their results as a way to help elected Pittsburgh officials to decide on safety regulations for these vehicles in the city

The survey will remain open until Feb. 1 at 5 p.m. To vote on the survey, click here.