Street wars 2035: can cyclists and driverless cars ever co-exist

Picture yourself cycling down a city street in the year 2035. You’re late for a meeting, but the road you must cross ahead has recently been designated an “Autonomous Vehicle-only” route, where platoons of driverless cars whizz past, mere centimetres apart. You can’t ride across it, as cyclists and pedestrians have been banned for fear they would slow the driverless traffic. You must find a way around.

The clock is ticking. Do you attempt to climb the barrier and make a dash through the traffic? As you wait, you see a group of kids on a side street which is open to all vehicles. They are darting between driverless pods and forcing them to a stop. It’s a popular game.

Rewind to today. A report last month estimated that by 2035 up to 25% of new vehicles sold could be fully autonomous. Humans can be terrible drivers, and many proponents believe AV could reduce the 1.34 million annual global road death toll.

But cities have some urgent questions to answer and failure to address the issues raised could see us sleepwalking back into the problems of the 1960s and 70s, where cities became thoroughfares for traffic first … and places for people second. Read more…

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