SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – As of last week, the California DMV had issued testing permits to 20 companies working on self-driving cars. Uber was not on the list. When Uber started testing in San Francisco anyway, the bike lobby was one of the first to protest.
On Monday, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition accepted Uber’s invitation to ride in one of its self-driving cars.
“What they didn’t tell us was that they were planning the imminent launch of these vehicles,” coalition spokesperson Chris Cassidy told KCBS. “The impression of my colleagues was that the technology does have some promise, but really has a long way to go before it should be unleashed on the streets of San Francisco.”
It wasn’t long, about 48 hours, before the vehicles were unleashed.
The immediate concern of the Bicycle Coalition’s staff was what’s called a right hook, when drivers fail to merge into the bike lane and instead cut across it as they turn right.
Coalition staff said they witnessed the autonomous cars make the right hook, twice.
Hundreds of San Francisco cyclists have signed a petition demanding that Uber address this.
“People are up in arms about Uber’s disregard for safety by launching these unready vehicles,” Cassidy said.
The company has told the Bicycle Coalition that its safety drivers are being instructed to disengage the autonomous controls and personally handle right turns involving bike lanes.