Responding to a Proposed Ban on Self-Driving Cars in Chicago

Gabe Klein thinks a proposed ban on self-driving cars in Chicago is shortsighted.
October 16, 2016, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Vladyslav Starozhylov

John Greenfield recently interviewed Gabe Klein, former transportation chief of the city of Chicago and author of Start-Up City, on the subject of a proposal in Chicago to ban self-driving cars.

Meg Graham reported on the proposed ban in September, in case you missed that story. "Aldermen Ed Burke and Anthony Beale proposed the ordinance Wednesday in a City Council meeting, calling it a 'preemptive strike' after Uber’s announcement it was beginning a pilot of self-driving cars," wrote Graham at the time. The aldermen were unprepared to allow Chicago streets to conduct the "experiment" currently ongoing in Pittsburgh.

Klein's take on the proposed regulation, however, is that the current system of "people-drive cars" is unacceptable. In Klein's own words: "the idea that self-driving cars are going to be less safe is almost impossible. Human error causes 94 percent of car crashes, so the faster we can get people out from behind the wheel of [multi-ton] hunks of metal next to pedestrians and cyclists, the safer our cities will be, the more people will want to live in our cities, the safer and healthier our children will be, because they’ll start walking and biking to school again."

Klein and Greenfield discuss the potential of self-driving cars in much detail—including the role of the taxi industry in opposing self-driving cars in Chicago, the idea that autonomous vehicles will encourage sprawl, and the recently announced federal regulations for self-driving cars.

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Published on Monday, October 10, 2016 in Chi.Streetsblog
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