Self-Driving Steering Committee to Go On With No Bike/Ped Rep

Governor Scott Walker has appointed a committee to explore the future of autonomous vehicles in Wisconsin.

That’s good. This is a fast-developing technology with all kinds of implications for safety, road-building, jobs, urban development and more.

But the governor did not appoint a representative of biking and pedestrian interests while he did go out of his way to appoint a member representing motorcyclists.

That’s not good. While the Bike Fed generally believes that the new technology will increase safety (94% of crashes are human caused), there have been serious questions raised about the technology’s ability to detect bicycles and pedestrians under certain circumstances.

Several weeks ago the Bike Fed launched an effort to get some representation on the committee. The governor’s office received over 100 contacts from our members. For those of you who wrote or called his office, thank you!

Unfortunately, the governor did nothing in response. He sent the form response that we’ve cut and pasted below.

Sen. Fred Risser accepted our plea to represent the interests of cyclists and pedestrians on a committee created by Gov. Walker to examine issues relating to self-driving vehicles.

With no help from the governor, we tried the back door. We asked Sen. Fred Risser, an avid cyclist and long-time bike and pedestrian advocate in the legislature, to serve on the committee. He agreed and Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling appointed him as allowed under the governor’s executive order.

So, we do have a voice for our concerns and interests on the committee through Sen. Risser. Still, we’re disappointed in the governor for not recognizing the stake cyclists and pedestrians have in this issue, not to mention the $1.5 billion bicycle industry here.

If you want to share your disappointment with the governor you can do so here.

If you’d like to thank Sen. Risser for volunteering to serve on the committee you can do that here.

Cut and pasted below is Gov. Walker’s response to our requests

Dear Concerned Citizen:

Thank you for contacting my office with your views on Executive Order #245, the Governor’s Steering Committee on Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Testing and Deployment. I appreciate the chance to hear from you on this important matter.

Wisconsin is uniquely positioned to study, test, and develop automated and connect vehicle technology. The University of Wisconsin-Madison was one of ten ‘Proving Grounds’ chosen to research automated vehicles, by the United States Department of Transportation. The Steering Committee was created to advise my administration and other state agencies to find a way to safely and effectively test and study autonomous and connected vehicles.

The composition of the Governor’s Steering Committee was decided upon with the input of the legislature. The members of the Steering Committee represent a broad array of Wisconsin road users, and is why the Steering Committee will be holding public meetings starting in September. I encourage you to attend the meeting and share your important input. Your participation in these upcoming meetings will play an important role making this committee a success.

Thank you for contacting my office concerning Executive Order #245, the Governor’s Steering Committee on Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Testing and Deployment. Please stay in touch as we work together to move Wisconsin Forward.


Scott Walker

About Dave Cieslewicz, Director Emeritus

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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