Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"Autonomous cars don't have middle fingers"

 Looks like winter has finally arrived. Last Friday we got some snow, this week started with another snowfall and we are expecting some subzero temperatures soon, such as -6F (-21C) on this Saturday night.

On Monday I took my bike to work, as usual. The morning was chilly and quiet with no signs of snowfall that was about to arrive. By early afternoon it started snowing heavily so I left my work a bit earlier. I was expecting some difficulty getting back home but riding on the Minuteman Bikeway was surprisingly easy, despite a fresh coat of ~2" of snow. My bike was leaving a deep cut behind and I was moving slowly forward, at a steady pace. It was peaceful and quiet. Great time for bike riding.
Over 65% of my commute happens on the Minuteman Bikeway so I'm lucky that I don't have to deal with much car traffic on my way to work. Still, every month I'm in one of those unpleasant situations that I wish I could quickly forget about. Usually, it involves a very impatient, young Mr. Motorist who feels urge to express himself by honking, yelling and waving his middle finger in an act of disapproval.

I noticed that drivers can be extremely impatient. They have to race to the next lights, even though they are red. They get angry quickly when a slower bicyclist "blocks" "their" road and therefore, they feel it's necessary to express their emotions. Interestingly though, I have never seen anyone like that, waving the middle finger at a school bus driver, a slow truck or an excavator - all of which block the road way more than a single cyclist.

Anyway, on Monday as I was riding back home in the middle of the snow storm, Mr. Motorist who was passing me, decided to educate me by honking and presenting his finger. Such thing happened to me many times in the past, but this situation was a bit different. Mr Motorist was going in the opposite direction and I wasn't "blocking" "his" road in any way.

I started thinking about it more. What is the motivation of Mr. Motorist to do such thing? Clearly, I wasn't slowing him down. I wasn't even close to him. I'm guessing that Mr. Motorist must have something fundamentally against any bicycles on "his" roads and just thinking about it makes him sweat at night and lose temper. Or maybe it was something else. Maybe by waving his finger he just wanted to advertise the size of his manhood. Either way, I'm not impressed.

Considering all this, I'm really excited for fully autonomous cars to arrive. The future looks bright. Autonomous vehicles don't have middle fingers. They don't get involved in sad cases of road rage. They don't speed and they don't even crash with each other. Driver's license may be the thing of the past soon and people will hopefully become human again.

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