First off, apologies for the break in posting. I've been busy with RL stuff, that's all.
Anyway, back to motorcycle safety, and that article that I mentioned a few days ago. Of course, I mentioned that it had caught my attention, and then everything I was going to say was said in the comments before I got round to posting. But here's a flavour of the article:
Motorbikes could soon be sporting collision detection and other safety features more usually found on cars.It. Won't. Work. As an exercise in misunderstanding your subject and barking so far up the wrong tree that you are getting your goolies caught on its topmost branches, it couldn't be better. These ideas stand no chance of being accepted by motorcyclists, even (and perhaps especially) by the 'less experienced' riders they are hoping to help. The whole thing is a total non-starter.
Research is testing ways to put these systems on motor bikes and how best to alert riders to dangers on the road.
The systems tested include warnings about speed limits, the tightness of road bends and information about other vehicles to aid lane-changing.
To any regular rider, this doesn't need explaining, but to those who are not in the grip of a motorcycling addiction, I shall try to describe why. The first, and most obvious, point is to ask: why would anyone object to something being made safer? The modifications proposed would be more likely, in my view, to be distracting and anything but safe, but if we go along with the idea for a moment ...
"Saferider takes the driver safety systems that are becoming standard on carsHere you have the key: Moore is an IT specialist, not a rider. He sees solutions in silicon and automation; riders see solutions in skill and experience.
and tries to adapt them to the unique needs of motorcyclists," said Jonathan
Moore, an ITS consultant at Mira, involved in the Saferider project.
Modern cars are wonderful things. Warm, dry, safe, they start with a press of a button and stop with the aid of brakes that can't get you in a skid. They tell you when you are low on fuel, they tell you when you have left your lights on, they tell you when a door is slightly open. Some cars nowadays will even park themselves. Driving a car has never been easier, and the way things are going you won't need any skill at all. Jump in, set the climate control, put your destination into the satnav, and the car will take you there. Radar will steer for you and keep you from getting too close to the car in front, the satnav will manage the engine and keep you from going too fast, and cruise control will keep you at the approved speed for as long as it takes. It will be a bit like going on the train, but without the drunks (unless you supply your own).
And this opens motoring to everyone. No need to develop any skills or extra knowledge, just jump in and go. Motoring for the microwaved ready-meal generation. This may be a good thing, but for some of us it removes any sense of enjoyment from the experience. Classic cars (ones with proper gearboxes, and chokes, and engines you have to do things to) have never been more popular, and I wonder why.
The whole deal with riding a bike is that it is you that are doing the riding. You are sitting on top of a collection of metal parts that, given the right kind of inputs from the operator, can get you where you want to be quicker than anything else, or can land you in hospital. Give you the experience that brightens your whole day, or give you a broken leg. Thrill you, or kill you.
And that is the point. You are in charge. You decide. You make the moves, not a computer. When you ride a bike, you are living on your wits, and yours alone. Whether it all turns out well or badly is up to you. There aren't many areas of life left to us where you can say that. I could go so far as to say that a motorbike is the ultimate Libertarian device: your actions all have consequences, and whether they are good or bad ones is up to you. There is no Nanny to 'guide' you into correct behaviour or protect you from yourself, and thank God for that.
So any attempt to make bikes more like cars is doomed to failure. You might as well ride a roller-coaster, if you want thrills devoid of any responsibility for the outcome. Or drive a car with (daringly) all the windows open. And if you give new riders all these 'safety' features, how will they ever learn to ride without them? I suppose that's the point. They won't. And then that will be yet another area of life where we have lost the ability to act for ourselves and take the consequences.
Come to think of it, I'm surprised thay haven't banned bikes already. I'm sure they will - either just before or just after they ban mountaineering.
Thanks to Joe Public for the excellent image above, and to Smoking Hot for the link to the original article.