Uber has already launched its self-driving cars in a number of states nationwide, but the car service company has reportedly had to hit the drawing boards to work out a couple of kinks, after some of the vehicles were veering into the bike lane. An Uber spokesperson, Chelsea Kohler, admitted there was a bit of a "problem" with the autonomous vehicles crossing out of their lane, but assured critics the company was actively trying to correct the mistake.
The new reports have set off huge concern for bikers in major cities, specifically in San Francisco, where there are an estimated 82,000 bike trips made every day. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition released a statement on Monday afternoon, detailing one dangerous experience in which one of the coalition's member witnessed the self-driving car make an "unsafe right-hook-style turn through a bike lane" two separate times. "This kind of turn is one featured in a 2013 blog post that is known to be one of the primary causes of collisions between cars and people who bike, resulting in serious injury or fatality," the statement read. The turn also violates state law, which mandates that a right-turning car merge before making the turn in order to avoid a collision with a cyclist, The Guardian reports.
Bicycle Coalition spokesperson Chris Cassidy stated that Uber's knowledge of the issue is a demonstration of the company's disregard for safety. "The fact that they know there’s a dangerous flaw in the technology and persisted in a surprise launch, shows a reckless disregard for the safety of people in our streets," Cassidy said. But Kohler has stated that the company has taken all of the right precautions to correct the mistake on a technical end and during real-life incidents. While engineers "are continuing to work on the problem," the company has directed all of its in-car safety monitors to take control of the vehicle anytime the car turns on a street with a bike lane.
Uber's launch has already met with a ton of controversy. In California, regulators demanded that the company pull all of its cars off the road until it obtained the right permits. Other local advocates have criticized the lack of safety with self-driving cars. In addition to crossing into the bike lanes, there have been other incidents of Uber cars running red lights, driving through stop signs, making unsafe turns, and failing to yield to pedestrians, all of which are the most common causes for collisions on the road according to reports. Still, Uber asserts that improvements are being made and that self-driving cars will become more prominent on the road in the near future.