“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike”
So wrote John F Kennedy and millions around the world endorse this comment, it frees the mind and can heal all manner of ills unfortunately as road traffic increases so does conflict between cyclists and motorists making this simple pleasure a little more fraught. The CTC and other cycling organisations continually lobby parliament to improve the lot of cyclists and provide segregated bike lanes but with a lack of cash and it seems a will to make it happen the vision of parity with Hollands cycling network is not even a dream.
Cycling along a country lane recently and another close pass from a lorry displaying a sticker warning cyclists to stay back and then returning home in the middle of the school run to find the entrance to my drive blocked by a 4 x 4, what is the common denominator. The car or lorry, well yes, but it’s not the vehicle that’s the problem it is the operator so if we can eliminate that problem we could all live in harmony. Rather than arguing the case for millions to spend on segregated paths perhaps we should take a different approach, the government could overlook Google’s tax avoidance and give them a few tens of millions to develop their driverless car and improve the lot of the countries cyclists. We could all share the existing infrastructure in harmony and some of the money saved could be used to resurface a few roads.A vehicle that can be programmed to give cyclists 1.5 metres when overtaking, programmed not to park illegally or break the speed limit and with the vision to spot the pothole 20 metres ahead and realise the cyclist will ride around it and sit patiently behind until it is safe to overtake. It would also be able to see me while wearing my black cycling jersey when human drivers struggle to see me wearing my orange hi-viz one.
I can imagine those positives for cyclists will not seem popular with a lot of petrol heads and I am sure the closer to reality the driverless car becomes the louder will be the opposition. A plus for drivers might well be that being relegated to passenger status will allow them to use their mobile phone which at the moment seems to be another law they struggle with. Last month the Google Alphabet driverless car suffered its first crash after 1.2 million miles of testing and it is well on the way towards winning approval for autonomous vehicles on the roads in the USA. That’s not a bad crash per miles covered ratio and I guess those statistics will threaten the livelihood of a few vehicle repair businesses, it could make insurance premiums cheaper and a reduction of road traffic accidents could even take a bit of pressure off the NHS.
The more I think about driverless cars the more sense it makes, the end of white van man saying “sorry mate I did not see you”, getting squeezed at left hand turns and cars observing my right of way at junctions and roundabouts, it might even make the school run bearable if it can park in a sensible place without human intervention.
I am having difficulty finding any negatives with this new development but I am not holding my breath that driverless cars will enhance my cycling experience any time soon.