Welcoming our autonomous masters

So these self driving cars. Just for the record, I’m for them. Not because I believe they will operate with an unblemished record. People are going to get hurt, people will die. Which is awful. Of course, what’s even more awful is accepting the current state of affairs where I can absolutely guarantee, people will get hurt and people will die, lots of them. I can even tell you how many. On average, tomorrow in the UK, 61 people will have their lives irrevocably changed for the worst (not including all their family and friends who will be severely impacted by this), and 5 people will die, family members, friends etc. That’s sounds properly awful. And that’s why I’m for self-driving cars, while they won’t be perfect, they will be better that human drivers, much, much better. And for every mistake they make, the people who program them will learn, and re-program and for each death and injury, these cars will get better and better until the amount of people getting hurt and dying on our roads will reduce to be barely statistical registrable.

But that’s not what I’m writing about here. Because I know humans. The worst thing about autonomous cars is not that they will reduce deaths and injuries to (hopefully) negligible amounts. What autonomous cars will do, as with many technologies, is bring out the worst in humans.

What I’m writing about here, is how humans will abuse this technology. I might run a book on which ones get convictions first.

People are a bit shit. Oh I’m know we’ve done lots of great things. Really, there’s some amazing people out there, but most of us are shit. So I know autonomous cars will get abused, terribly. Let me count the ways.

Drive me home
No doubt the initial rules will be that a human must be sat behind the wheel, even if they’re not driving. Can you see people driving down the pub and then letting the car drive them back while they’re pissed? Of course you can. What copper will pull over a self-driving car? Once that precedent is set, why bother with any pretence? Just go on a pub crawl. Drugs? Fill your boots. No copper will pull over a self-driving car.

Drive my kids home
Once you’ve worked out the car will bring you home when you can’t remember your own name, you can let the car do the jobs you really don’t want to have to do, like looking after your kids. I’ve no idea if there will be any technical controls to ensure a trained adult is sat in the car but it’s unlikely to be anything more intelligent than a weight measurement device in the drivers seat. Pop a bag of spuds in there and set the course. Jeremy Kyle while you’re doing the tough stuff.

Pick my stuff up
Just send the car to the supermarket. Some of them already do a pick up service in the car park. It seems pointless you having to waste your valuable time by actually driving a car there if it can do it itself. Set the program, wait for the crisps and cake to arrive. You’re brilliant! The big supermarkets will love this shit. They’ll b e pushing massively to remove their expensive retail premises and replace them with efficient and cheap retail self-drive outlets. It’ll be like a production line.

Park up, chicken.
It’s so busy in town. And parking is so hard to find and so expensive. Simply let the car drop you off then send it out of town. Maybe let it do the shopping while you’re busy working.

I’ve got a very important meeting
Forget all the normal things people will do when in their self-driving cars like having phone calls and going to sleep. People will get their computers and phones out and work while the car is moving their highly important body around the place. After all, sales people are incredibly important and must utilise every single second of their lives, I dunno, by buying self-tying trainers on amazon or something.

Sex. It’ll happen, I absolutely guarantee it. Your car will be driving you home, you’ll be pissed, the person sat next to you will be looking very nice indeed and you will want to have sex with them. Why wait? Get jiggy on the way home. No copper will pull up a self-driving car. The car can deal with the easy bit, time to get on with the hard stuff.

I mean, really, If you think anyone sat in a self driving car isn’t going to watch series 19 of Game of Thrones, you’re not very aware.They do this when the car *isn’t* self driving so it’s a sure fire, bob notch boogie.

Sorting the Noms
Again, people eat and drink all the time when driving, and people die from this. At least once a computer that is a fraction of the size of the human brain is in control, less people will die. I mean, when humans are eating and driving, they can’t be expected to do both of them well, can they?

Take the blame
This for me is the number one. Whether the human is in control, or not, shagging, eating, sleeping or watching Jeremy Kyle. If anything at all goes wrong, they will 100%, certainly, positively and indubitably, blame the car for whatever went wrong. And the courts will believe them and people will die and the people who did it will walk free. The future is here, people. Enjoy.



No thanks, Brad.

They say you should never meet your heroes, now it turns out you should never listen to them either.

I spent a good couple of years following Brad’s progress leading up to the 2012 Tour de France and I spent a very excited couple of weeks watching him ride about France until he finally bagged the big one. I was a big fan. I even drew him! Three times!

But then Brad turned out to be a gigantic cocknugget. What a pity.

That seems a bit harsh doesn’t it? He’s a national treasure! Hmmm, maybe not. Rides a bike well, but then when he opens his mouth a load of nonsense comes out. So what has he done this time then?

Brad tells cyclists to follow the rules or face the consequences

Hang on Jon, all he’s done is ask cyclists to follow the rules, you can’t argue about that can you, or are you one of those righteous cyclists who believes the laws don’t apply to you?

Nope, I’d not argue against following the rules (despite there being plenty of evidence to suggest law breaking cyclists spend less time getting crushed by lorries). And in fact, I think in all the commentary I’ve seen over this article, not one cyclist has said “Fuck you Brad, I’m no stooge to the man and I’ll break the rules if I want, you square”. The problem is errrm, pretty much everything else he said.

The two things that really bother me about Brad’s outburst are thus:

Firstly, it’s this ridiculous notion that cyclists must earn their right to the roads by behaving. By all riding safely and within the rules, drivers will respect us and thus stop driving over us. Have you ever heard so much shit in all your life? Not one other road user is maligned in this way. No other group of road users are told to behave because they need to earn respect. Terrible car drivers aren’t told by Lewis Hamilton to pack it because it makes the good drivers look bad. Errant lorry drivers don’t get told by errrm, I dunno, Eddie Stobart if they don’t stop misbehaving then their rights will be removed.

Here’s a little excerpt.

“but you always get cyclists who give a bad name to the rest; people who jump the kerbs, jump red lights and ride around with iPods so you can’t hear the rest of the traffic. You would not do that in a car so why would you on a bike?”

So jumping kerbs, jumping red lights and listening to music are things you wouldn’t do in a car? You don’t get out much do you Brad? Drivers do these things, CONSTANTLY. And of course, when drivers do these things that are virtually always, mere annoyances when cyclists do them, they become dangerous. Even lethal. people die because drivers do these things. But we need to earn respect, apparently.

Anyway, that’s not my major issue. The real dollop of manure (other than the British cycling membership statement) that fell from Brad lips was this.

“people are starting to use cycling as a means of transport more but we won’t see the full cycling legacy of the Olympics for 10 years”

Did you bang your head when that van driver (remember, they make the rest of the van drivers look bad) knocked you off? Transport. Olympics. Transport. Olympics. Transport. Olympics

What. The. Fuck. Has. Transport. Got. To. Do. With. The. Olympics???????

Here’s a clue Brad. CHUFF ALL

The olympics no more provides a legacy to cycling as a mode of transport as formula one does to driving down the shops. This is complete and utter nonsense. In the unlikely event that someone watching an olympic cycling event suddenly decides to ride a bike to work the next day because, well I don’t know. I have absolutely no idea how someone would make a link between a race on TV and riding down the A34. Anyway, if someone watched the olympics and then rode to work the next day as a direct result of doing so, what kind of cyclist do you think they’d be?

That’s right, they’d look like this:


Is that what we want? Do we actually need more Brad wannabies with their heads down, chasing Strava segments, doping up on cough medicine and hidden electric motors, racing you from every set of lights and shaving their legs? Is that what bicycle transport looks like?

Of course not. Cycling transport, done properly looks like this:


And this.


No helmets, no pro kit, no need to wring our hands about whether we’re earning respect from drivers. It’s safe for everyone, not just the strong and the fast and the aggressive.

So I tell you what Brad, if you really want to improve road safety for cyclists, stick your comments up your arse and talk to sports cyclists about sports cycling. I don’t want to hear advice on road safety from a Tour de France winner, I’d much rather listen to what the vulnerable, the slow, the quiet and the people who don’t yet cycle have to say on the matter. If we’re driving a cycling revolution forwards, these are the people we need to listen to.