Self-Driving Car Opponents Have a New Weapon: Traffic Cones

You may have heard of tire-deflating SUV haters, but now there are people waging war against another type of vehicle: self-driving cars.

In San Francisco, where Waymo (Alphabet) and Cruise (General Motors) are testing their autonomous prototypes on public roads, a group of irate citizens called Safe Street Rebel has found a unique way to put a stop to them. They simply put a traffic cone on the hood.  

This prevents the roof-mounted cameras and LiDARs from working properly and essentially disables the vehicles.

The actions taken by Safe Street Rebel come as the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) must vote to determine whether to allow driverless car companies to operate 24/7 with no restrictions like Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing services. The vote, which was supposed to take place yesterday, has been pushed back to August 10 at the earliest.

Opponents believe this expansion will increase the number of cars in the city. They also say the self-driving vehicles are unsafe to pedestrians, and they block traffic such as buses and emergency vehicles.

"As a pedestrian, I am concerned," a member of Safe Street Rebel told ABC 7. "I see them stop and open their doors in the bike lane. I feel rushed when crossing the street in front of them. If I take the bus, I wonder if it will stall and all 40 of us will be stuck behind it."

The protest in San Francisco is not unlike what’s happening down in Arizona, where Waymo has been deploying its autonomous vehicles for the last several years. The company says putting traffic cones on the hood and stopping vehicles amounts to vandalism and is dangerous.

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