Advocates Press for Harder Questions While Pittsburgh Experiments With Self-Driving Cars

Five self-driving car companies are currently operating in Pittsburgh, without much critical rigor in asking about the consequences of the technology to the city.

1 minute read

July 22, 2019, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Autonomous Vehicle

Sean Leonard / Shutterstock

"The public has been exposed to risks associated with being guinea pigs in an AV lab, yet not a single public meeting has been held to address public concerns," writes Angie Schmitt, to introduce the premise of a new report from Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT) intended to raise awareness about the potential negative consequences of handing over the public realm to technological experiments.

More specifically, according to Schmitt, the report "argues that public concerns about equity, the environment and job security aren’t playing a larger role in the conversation about autonomous vehicle deployment."

Then there are questions about safety risks presented by self-driving cars to pedestrians and people on bikes. In addition to the risks exemplified by the first pedestrian killed by a self-driving car operated by Uber in Tempe, "pedestrians and cyclists risk losing funding for essential infrastructure like sidewalks and crosswalks to special street treatments for AVs," according to Schmitt's summary of the report.

"The city of Pittsburgh, for example, allocated $23 million from its 'Department of Mobility and Infrastructure' for testing and deployment of an 'autonomous micro transit shuttle,' which [Laura] Weins, the PPT director, called 'not really mass transit.'"

Thursday, July 18, 2019 in Streetsblog USA

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

Ice fishing tents surrounded by fence in Safe Outdoor Space for unhoused people in parking lot in Denver, Colorado.

An Affordable Housing Model for Indigenous Americans

Indigenous people make up a disproportionately high percentage of the unhoused population, but many programs designed to assist them don’t reach those most in need.

March 1 - High Country News

An electric bicycle is shown with the legs of a human who is riding the e-bike.

Oregon Bill Would Ban E-Bikes for Riders Under 16

State lawmakers seek to change Oregon e-bike laws following the death of a 15-year old last summer.

March 1 - Oregon Capital Chronical

Aerial view of canal cut into beach in Charlestow, Rhode Island with boats parked in sand.

Northeastern Waterways More Polluted After Wet Year

Intense rains washed more runoff into local bodies of water, while warmer temperatures contributed to the growth of an invasive bloom.

March 1 - University of Rhode Island

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.