Autonomous Vehicles – Will Active Transportation Rights Prevail?

Washington DC / USA

Many people think that autonomous vehicles are still decades away, but with major trials already running, critical policy debates are being held right now that will determine the rights of other forms of transport in an autonomous world.

Ever since Cities across the USA started to implement measures to make them more friendly for cyclists, pedestrians and other micromobility users, they have been hampered by a hide bound federal bureaucracy in charge of an auto centric book of rules.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issues the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD). Their very names are ominous.

The MUTCD has not been upgraded since 2009. Now there are proposed substantial new requirements aimed at remaking streets to work for automated vehicles, at the expense of human users.

Fortunately, two progressive organisations, the National League of Cities (NLC) and National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) have joined forces to challenge these proposals. They are hosting an important online conference meeting with MUTCD to discuss the proposed new manual.

Of course, while this particular meeting strictly speaking only relates to the USA, given its economic size and technical leadership, the outcomes could set precedents and have implications for Australia and other nations. NACTO also has member cities in Canada and Mexico.

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