Gov. Walker Leaves Cyclists Out of Self-Driving Committee

Yesterday, Governor Scott Walker appointed a task force to explore self-driving cars, but he failed to include anyone to represent the interests of cyclists and pedestrians on that group.

Let’s get that fixed.

The governor issued Executive Order #245, creating the Governor’s Steering Committee on Autonomous and Connected Vehicles. That’s a great idea. As we noted in previous blogs this technology is coming on fast and it has all kinds of implications for people who bike and walk. So, we strongly support the governor’s initiative.

Gov. Walker has appointed a task force to explore self-driving vehicles. He needs to understand that they will have an impact on cyclists.

The problem is that while he set aside seats for groups like motorcyclists and the trucking industry, he missed us. Let’s just assume that wasn’t intentional and ask him to correct the oversight.

You can help by contacting the governor’s office and asking him to appoint someone (maybe someone from the Bike Fed) to represent the interests of cyclists. It’s pretty easy. Just go here.

To help you craft your message, here’s the letter the Bike Fed sent to him today:

May 19, 2017

Governor Scott Walker
State Capitol
Madison, WI

Dear Governor Walker:

The Wisconsin Bike Fed applauds and supports your creation of the Governor’s Steering Committee on Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Testing and Development.

This technology is coming on fast and it is of keen interest to Wisconsin cyclists and pedestrians. In fact, the Bike Fed together with the AAA hosted a major conference on this topic at the UW in April. And we reviewed the 26 crashes resulting in cyclist fatalities in 2015 and 2016 and concluded that at least 15 could have been prevented by autonomous technology.

Still, there have been concerns raised regarding special challenges presented as these vehicles interact with people who ride bicycles. In fact, a leading researcher in the field, University of California Berkeley engineering professor Steven Shladover has said, “Bicycles are probably the most difficult detection problem that autonomous vehicle systems face.” This owes to the fact that bikes are small in mass, quick and maneuverable, and they vary widely in size and appearance.

It is important that people who ride bikes and walk be represented on the committee. Yet, while motorcyclists are specifically awarded a spot on the group, cyclists and pedestrians are not.

So, we write today to ask that you correct this oversight and amend Executive Order #245 to include a representative of an organization representing bicyclists and pedestrians.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

David Cieslewicz
Executive Director
The Wisconsin Bike Fed

About Dave Cieslewicz, Executive Director

Dave Cieslewicz served two terms as mayor of Madison where he set the city on a path for Platinum status as one of the best biking cities in North America. Before that he started his own nonprofit, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, which focuses on land use and transportation policy. He has been an adjunct professor at the UW Madison's Department of Urban and Regional Planning where he teaches a class called Bikes, Pedestrians and Cities. He pronounces his name chess LEV ich, but nobody else does.

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