In the “you just can’t make this stuff up” department, Bike Biz notes that Manuel Marsilio, general manager of the Confederation for the European Bicycle Industry has spoken out about the need for cyclists to “identify” themselves for autonomous vehicles. With the salvo that lives will be saved with “cycle to vehicle” sensors, Marsilio made his comments at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland. “It is the goal of the “connected car” industry to make cyclists wear sensors or beacons so they can be detected more easily. Currently, “erratic” cyclists are hard to detect by autonomous vehicles. And pedestrians, too, are often not spotted by a plethora of detection devices on the most tricked-out “driverless cars.”
Of course the example of the lady killed by a self-driving Uber car in Arizona was also trotted out as an example of why pedestrians could benefit from wearing a “vehicle tracker”. While there have been previous iterations of bicycle to vehicle communication systems, “B2V is a new addition to the Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything technology. C-V2X connects equipped vehicles to a larger communications system allowing them to communicate with other vehicles, pedestrian devices, cyclists and roadside infrastructure, such as traffic signs and construction zones.”
It has been pointed out that if cyclists need to have beacons and pedestrians need trackers that “smart” cars are not yet smart. While cycling is growing for health and to get around congestion, Mr. Marsilio stated that the main concern was cycling safety, and the need for communication with other road users, and a good legislative environment was needed for users to adopt tracker technology. Mr. Marsilio observed “Bicycles of the near future will have sensors that will allow cyclists to be detected by car drivers. It’s not a [case] of putting a chip in bodies or to force everybody to have a smart watch, the main idea is to have bicycles equipped with the necessary equipment in order to be able to be connected with all vehicles.”
As expected, there has been plenty of reaction to this story and the motordom based solution to have beacons on all road users. And once again, it shows how the embracing of a new technology can warp the understanding that active transportation users and pedestrians need to be embraced and embedded into a city’s living fabric. Should cyclists and pedestrians be bowing to the new needs of autonomous motordom? Not so much.