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A new dawn on the horizon; Autonomous vehicles could mean an end to cycling fatalities


March 2017

One of the benefits of living in the suburbs between the Motor City and Vehicle City is that a lot of news centers around automobiles.  After the International Auto Show last month, there’s a lot of news surrounding autonomous vehicles of late.  The interesting bit that was discussed this morning on WJR by Paul W. Smith centered on fully autonomous vehicles, not partially autonomous.  Paul envisions a society in which we’re no longer “allowed” to drive our non-autonomous vehicles except at specially designated tracks.

That seems rather far-fetched, but then he added this notion:  Our fathers and grandfathers used to be able to ride their horses to and from work, but that’s all but impossible in today’s industrialized world.  He imagined that world evolving to a point where vehicles drove themselves, assuming safety is achieved, in the next 10 to 20 years.

How difficult a stretch is it?  We’ll see what happens in the next ten years but as a cyclist, if they get the science right, a world where we wear laser reflective clothing so that automated vehicle sensors pick us up (say on the shoes, sides, front and back, on the short cuffs and on the jersey backs and shoulders…).  Imagine being able to ride on roads were vehicles couldn’t hit us!  That’s where we’re headed and while there once was a time I wouldn’t have wanted to relinquish my driving duties, I’d trade up in a heartbeat to be able to cycle in peace.

This would, no doubt, lead to some simple rules that would need to be obeyed in order to stay safe and keep traffic efficient, but think of all of the road rage that would be saved!  While I imagine this would only be displaced elsewhere, I would assume that not having to go through the motions of getting around a cyclist, letting the car do the work, would make the experience a little less unsettling.

The technology would cause some problems, I’m sure, though I’m not as opposed as I once was.  I look forward to a day when we aren’t plucked off the side of the road.


  1. Dan says:

    So far, this stuff scares the tar out of me! I also doubt it will ever truly happen, at least not here in ‘Merica. We love our cars too much. It’s not just going fast that we love. We love to DRIVE fast.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Unfortunately, I see this happening, again, if the science and safety works out. It’ll be billed as “an end to accidents”. I could see, maybe, designated roads in which old vehicles could be used on in each state, but I think the pull to avoid accidents will be too great and win out in the end.

  2. I find the idea of autonomous vehicles terrifying, because it’s just one more step towards humans becoming redundant and machines taking over. On the other hand, reading your description of world where we can cycle in peace sent a little buzz to my stomach and I felt a little bit of excitement at the prospect.

    Provided it’s fully enforced and the technology works as it’s meant to… I would welcome this.

  3. unironedman says:

    “Fear not, good people. Regardless of how technology pans out, there will always be a place in the world to cycle (and always some f**kin’ idiot who will try and run you over) 😉 ”

    (this message is an automated response from BlogBot9000, v.1.3768: Skynet’s new human-face – bringing a little sunshine to the online world.
    If the facetious setting on this BlogBot is in any way upsetting, please log on to and change them accordingly. Have a super day, humans.

  4. biking2work says:

    The only machine that I trust is the one between my legs with 2 wheels so I’d need some convincing. At least people will be free to enjoy their screen addiction without the distraction of what’s happening on the road I suppose…You’ll only reduce cycling fatalities to zero if you stop people riding bicycles-I have encountered some proper clowns out there lately

    • bgddyjim says:

      You raise an interesting point of course, and I almost thought about watering the title down because you’re right. However, I figured the point I was getting at was fairly easy to grasp.

      This is also why I wrote IF they get the science right. In that case I’d take my chances against the computer over a human. A computer won’t look away to send a text.

  5. Here’s the issue I have with driverless cars: decisions. Let’s say you are cycling down the road and a driverless car is approaching from the rear. At the same time a child runs into the road from the left, a car veers into the oncoming lane, a man pulling his trashcan to the curb steps too far out . . . whatever . . . the car will have to decide who to take out. Yes, they are designed to predict accidents with radar and such, but in some nano, split-second decision what does the car have to decide and will it choose correctly?

    • bgddyjim says:

      The car will be programmed to slow down in a situation like that, where most humans would be oblivious. A friend of mine got hit in EXACTLY one of those situations two years ago. The old f***er actually told the cop, “Well there was a car coming over so I had to get over”. I’ll take a computer.

      • Geeze! What an idiot. I’m actually referring to a split second . . . Boom! kid bounces out on the car’s left and you are in the car’s right.

      • MJ Ray says:

        Yes, proper “I, Robot” movie style decisions about who to save and who to abandon.

        There’s also the likelihood of people hacking the cars. Already, some complain that the automated cars are too slow in towns because they’re too cautious and give way to people walking too often (and in one famous case, gave way to a trackstanding cyclist it didn’t understand). Some people intentionally disable the pollution filters on their diesel cars because it inhibits the acceleration for the first few miles until the engine warms up – these people will probably try to make their automated cars more aggressive too.

      • bgddyjim says:

        That’s an excellent point MJ, and one I hadn’t considered. While there are still bugs to work out, the tech is only a few years old after all, I’d still take my chances with a computer over a human. Humans drive distracted. They always have and always will, because the consequences aren’t that big a deal until someone innocent dies – and even that is pretty rare.

  6. Archetype says:

    Autonomous vehicles do seem to be the future for certain Jim. The question and ultimate decision as to whether it truly becomes a mass reality is the yet unborn generation after Z… they just might not accept it, like younger gens are not accepting things as usual, or corrupted business as usual I should say. And good for them! Corporatists rely on complacency, ignorance and fear to make (steal) millions and billions collectively off the backs of what can be cited as…the uniformed masses…or modern economic slaves. Too much to be made in this area of tech. Nothing foreseeable will stop the autonomous revolution.

    I also, or we also now know that intel community, nas or cia (scumbags) can hack into any computerized vehicle or device and essentially murder or create a dangerous or fatal-type situation for any one that may be considered a target. And who knows what the future ‘label’ or definition of what a anti-government person may actually be. Someone like myself, who has disdain against the government and speaks out could be considered a threat or a ‘terrorist in the future. (of course even though I am not or will ever be)

    But (as has been proven as fact) these murderous, subversive, nefarious agencies operate above any and ALL laws or ethics or morals known to mankind. Who is to say that a situation could arise whether a case of mistaken identity or otherwise, where anyone is targeted and run down by an autonomous vehicle. (biking, walking, etc) We now can plainly see the world we live in. Surveillance beyond the pale, no privacy, no TRUE liberty and freedom. And it is only going to deteriorate from here.

    Sure, there are many things to be thankful for, many things to appreciate. Our families, our friends. Perhaps being productive or being a part of nature. Living clean, helping others. Appreciating a sunrise/sunset, kids laughing, good food, a good drink! Of course a good bike ride! But it can be easily overshadowed by what is happening below the surface of everyday life. To ignore it, is to appease it. To give consent. Worrying about it is both harmful and productive (with regard to awareness) Obsessing about it, is of course unhealthy. But we should all be outraged and not accept this path we are on.

    Technology, for as good as it can be for a better life (or life style) has FORSAKEN liberty. And apathy begets tyranny…

    It’s too late, it’s a done deal. But, as I said, a future unborn generation may, just may change course. We will never know… I do know that society has become a sad existence in which we have created and cultivated for ourselves and and our kids. Let’s be honest, let us be real about the evil that happening. The bombing and murdering of innocent babies. The destruction of our rights, our liberties and our freedoms. Mass scale child trafficking and pedophilia. Corrupted governments destroying society to the point of such an invasive and criminal behavior, acted upon its own residents and citizenry around the world.

    I for one, as much as I enjoy technology, wouldn’t mind at all if we went back to the 1950s or earlier… I could adapt very easily. I’ll forgo the advances of technology in favor of the simplicity of life and the sanctity of almost complete privacy. Of course this is not going to be the case…unless a catastrophic event takes place. Natural or man-made. The trillions and quadrillions and so on to be made by a select few corporatists will keep the train of madness rolling full-speed, until it eventually, perhaps one day plunges into the ravine…

    • bgddyjim says:

      I share your skepticism but perhaps not quite its depth. For all our sake, I hope you’re wrong about our closeness to the precipice. Being a business owner myself, I don’t see business the same way, but I can understand why you see it as you do.

      • Archetype says:

        You’re one of the few people who ‘get’ acknowledge and live in reality Jim. That’s why I enjoy your blog and your perspectives. So many seem to be out of touch or blissfully ignorant. Sometimes, when the world is heavy, I wish I could be like that…tune out to reality and pretend like all is good. lol.

      • bgddyjim says:

        Thanks brother, I try… It’s a mad, mad world.

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