Mostly things I wrote on Mastodon but wanted to keep permanently.
I'm actually pretty optimistic about AVs for comfort for other people on the roads, especially cycling.
If we get to a point where I feel at least as much trust that the robot will see me as the average driver - and building this trust is probably easier than people imagine - I can cycle without worrying about abuse, harassment and unsafe passing from drivers who are irrationally upset by the presence of cyclists. Robots will have no such feelings.
Why do I think it won't be too hard to gain that trust - note I'm not talking about the technical side of identifying cyclists. I have no idea about that and how close we are. I mean from the human side, why will I feel safe knowing autonomous cars are driving around me? Well, it's not like I get to make eye contact with every human driver and assess whether they seem sane, competent and calm, particularly drivers behind me. Some trust is already involved. I've cycled in countries where I felt much safer than in Australia, and it took remarkably little time to build that trust, based on the behaviour of a subset of drivers, and apply it to the drivers as a whole. Without being able to speak to or in some cases even see drivers, you can get a vibe of whether you are respected as just another person getting down the road, or an aberrant other getting in the way.
And if the robots are all chill, below-the-speed-limit drivers, it will become much more difficult for other drivers to speed around them, and people will have to unlearn aggressive driving even if they still want to drive themselves.
I'm now kinda looking forward to a future where I take over Mitchell Road, side by side with my fellow cyclist, without fear or guilt. Got to be optimistic about something!