Cyclists and self-driving vehicles – challenges and potentials

| September 15, 2017

Klaus Bondam presenting the Danish Cyclists’ Federation’s view on cycling and autonomous cars

The emergence of the autonomous vehicle has the potential to further enhance our traffic systems. But it also poses a number of challenges to our bicycle culture both in terms of safety, public health, and livability in our cities. Before the summer holidays, experts from Denmark and the Netherlands met to discuss the topic.

Challenges and potentials

Before leaving for the summer holidays the cycling community gathered at the Velo-City 2017 conference in Arnhem and Nijmegen in the Netherlands to exchange knowledge, experiences and know-how on how to increase and make cycling safer in our cities.

The day before the conference, the leading cycling countries, Denmark and the Netherlands, met to debate the challenges and potentials of self-driving vehicles. How can we best integrate the autonomous vehicle to maximize its benefits while limiting the potential problems? How do we maintain and strengthen our bicycle cultures and harvest all the positive effects of cycling alongside this new form of mobility? These were some of the questions debated.

The purpose of the workshop was to agree on a number of recommendations that we would share at Velo-City and debate further with a broader audience. The workshop was hosted by Henk Swarttouw, the Netherlands’ Ambassador to Denmark, Ole Moesby, Denmark’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Dutch Cycling Embassy and Cycling Embassy of Denmark. We had invited a number of Dutch and Danish experts, politicians and NGO’s to speak and practitioners to debate this important topic. The speakers were: Klaus Bondam, CEO, Danish Cyclists’ Federation, Morten Kabell, Mayor for Technical and Environmental Affairs in Copenhagen, Arjan van Vliet, Senior advisor Strategy and External Developments, RDW, Luuk Vissers, Researcher, SWOV. The moderator was Marije de Vreeze, ITS Netherlands, Connekt.


After the presentations, the hosts, speakers and audience discussed the challenges and potentials related to automated vehicles and agreed on the following recommendations:

  1. It’s very important to keep the focus on humans, both when it comes to city planning and developing automated vehicles. Cities need to decide which city they want for the people living there and not let the car manufacturers decide for them. And the car manufacturers need to focus on how the technology can serve humans best – not the other way around.
  2. It’s important to keep talking about how passive transportation is a big problem because it causes massive health problems for us humans. As humans we need to move around – on foot or by bike.
  3. We need more research in human behaviour related to automated vehicles. Studies so far have shown that humans react differently to self-driving cars than cars driven by other humans. The human factor is very important.
  4. Last but not least, we agreed that it’s very important that the active mobility community engage with the ITS world and the car manufacturers and start influencing the development instead of standing on the outside worrying.

We also all hope that this topic will be part of the agenda on the future Velo-City conferences.


The Dutch and Danish Cycling Embassy’s and their countries’ respective ambassadors co-hosted the workshop at Velo-City. 


Category: Events with the Participation of the Cycling Embassy, Newsletter, Newsletters in English, Smart Mobility, Smart transport

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