Daily News Portal

Robotaxis halt traffic in San Francisco’s North Beach day after expansion approval

SAN FRANCISCO —Just one day after it received state approval to expand driverless cars without limits in San Francisco, Cruise brought traffic to a standstill in one busy neighborhood.

Witnesses said there were about 10 driverless cars paralyzed on two narrow streets in North Beach Friday around 11 p.m. 

“It makes me feel horrible because people can die. If there’s an emergency, the emergency vehicle cannot come down through. They can’t roll through those cars,” said longtime North Beach resident Jeffrey Bilbrey.

Bilbrey shared video of his view of the traffic jam on Vallejo Street near Grant Avenue. He said the cars were disabled for about 15 minutes. 

“I was warning people because people from out of town did not know these cars didn’t have no drivers in them. I was screaming that out my window,” he said. 

On Saturday, Cruise told KPIX that the Outside Lands Music Festival impacted its vehicles. 

“Due to the large event, we had wireless connectivity issues causing delayed connectivity to our vehicles,” the company said.  

“We are actively investigating and working on solutions to prevent this from happening again and apologize to those impacted,” it continued.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said he talked to Cruise and that they are exploring creating their own cellphone system.

“That’s not going to happen overnight, but meanwhile they’re deploying hundreds of more cars on our streets,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, whose district includes North Beach. “They should take a time-out and a pause until they’ve perfected this technology in a way where people don’t end up burning to death or getting injured.”

Supervisor Aaron Peskin told CBS News Bay Area there are about 600 driverless cars between Cruise and Waymo in the city, and there have been 50 documented incidents of interference with first responders. 

On Thursday, a witness, @Dylan_Why on X, captured a cruise car blocking a fire truck at an active scene at 24th and Valencia, adding that the fire truck was forced to back up so the vehicle could move.

“This is ground zero in the United States of America for testing these vehicles, and we’re all learning what the experience is together. We’re asking them to work with us in a responsible way that benefits the public,” Peskin said. 

The California Public Utilities Commission voted Thursday to allow the massive robotaxi expansion, despite vocal opposition from city officials. 

Peskin said they will continue to fight the move by appealing it with CPUC. He wants both companies to be transparent with data about stalling incidents and crashes and for there to be an incremental rollout with performance benchmarks. 

Stephan Gittings, a tourist from New York, also witnessed Friday’s spectacle. 

“They’ve got some kinks to sort out I would say,” noted Gittings. “So, it’s not an efficient way of getting around. It’s a novel way of getting around.”

“We don’t need them here. We did fine before they came here,” added Bilbrey.  

Read More:Robotaxis halt traffic in San Francisco’s North Beach day after expansion approval