Saturday, 2 July 2016

A tour, two tenth anniversaries, and a very sad computerized SMIDSY

Ten years ago today, my friend Terry and myself started our ride from John o'Groats to Land's End in the UK. While we rode, I sent one photo per day to the 12 year old daughter Eliza from my phone (using MMS - remember that ?) and she wrote up the ride as we were on the road. When I got home, Eliza said she'd like to do the same thing and to be honest the thought of that actually horrified me. As I wrote about before, we had many close calls during our tour and I didn't want my daughter exposed to the risk. However, the desire to go on such a tour remained with her.

Eliza Hembrow and Sander Marskamp setting off to ride their Ronde van Nederland.
Today, Eliza and her boyfriend Sander, who have already travelled the world together have set off to conquer the Netherlands. They'll ride all the way around the country, which is a similar distance to LEJOG, following their own route to pass places and people that they'd like to visit. I've no fear for their safety on a tour in the Netherlands. This time it's plausible for them to do updates on the road so Eliza and Sander will update their own blog daily during the ride. Follow their blog.



I love my oma t-shirt now available
from our webshop
.
Sander has a business designed, printing and selling organic cotton t-shirts using all vegan materials. Some of these are now available in our webshop.

Both Eliza and Sander are riding proper steel touring bikes which are older than they are. We know the history of Eliza's bike as this is a Claud Butler mixte frame bike made of 531 steel which Judy used to ride. With a little occasional attention, bikes like this last forever. We overhauled both bikes in the last few days and with new tyres, new bar tape, new panniers, mudguardschains and oil these bikes are riding as if new.

Lunch time
In an update at around lunchtime, Eliza sent us a photo. She'd bumped into that same Terry with whom I rode LEJOG ten years. While Eliza and Sander head South, Terry is heading North towards us.

They met each other on a cycle-path about 50 km south of here while heading in opposite directions on the same path. Cycle-paths in the Netherlands form a grid which covers the entire country.

To give away:Hundreds of free bicycles
Brexit special !
Yes, I know the brexit fallout has been getting everyone down. It's affected us quite badly too. Brexit also pushed up prices for British customers. We'd like to help by sending British customers food parcels. For a limited time and while stocks last, if you spend over €30 (ex VAT) in the DutchBikeBits.com webshop and use the "brexitfood" or "freepasta" discount codes at the checkout then you can add a bag of bicycle shaped pasta to your order for free. You don't have to be British or in the EU to get free pasta. This offer is available worldwide.

Ten year Study Tour anniversary
It's not only ten years since I rode from Land's End to John o'Groats but also ten years since we organised our first cycling study tour in the Netherlands. The anniversary open tour is in September. Book now.

SMIDSY
In other news, I dare say many of you have noticed the news that a Tesla car with self-driving feature has been involved in the first fatality in a self-driving car. Sad news for all those involved. First off, I think it fair to say that I think there is good reason to believe that automation will result in fewer fatal car crashes than human drivers currently do. However, as cyclists we should note how the crash occurred: "Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied." This crash is not only the first recorded lethal incident due to a self-driving car but also appears to be the first lethal computer controlled SMIDSY ("Sorry Mate I Didn't See You") incident. If the computer can't see a truck under all conditions, can it see a cyclist ?

Drivers who report not having seen a cyclist often genuinely have not seen and processed the presence of that cyclist. This can be for reason of lack of attention, bad light, being blinded by sunlight. Human failings. In this case, the error was not made by a human but by a computer which managed not to notice a truck because it was blinded by sunlight. Just as with human drivers who have made errors in the past, in this case the computer simply continued to drive at the same speed until the collision occurred.

I think this automated SMIDSY rather reinforces the point which I made a while back that perfect driving can never happen. Training of drivers, threatening huge fines and even replacing them with automation will not result in perfectly safe driving. The only way of keeping cyclists safe from the danger of motor vehicles is to remove the danger of motor vehicles from where cyclists are. This can be achieved by building cycle-paths, or by unravelling routes so that cyclists encounter very few motor vehicles - that being a form of segregation without cycle-paths.

4 comments:

totobobo said...

"perfect driving can never happen. Training of drivers, threatening huge fines and even replacing them with automation will not result in perfectly safe driving. The only way of keeping cyclists safe from the danger of motor vehicles is to remove the danger of motor vehicles from where cyclists are."
Very well put and I totally agree!

totobobo said...

and congrats for the double 10th anniversaries!

Andrew WD said...

If automated driving continues to proliferate, I wonder to what extent the onus will be placed on the cyclist to ensure their own visibility; it has always been thus in many parts of the world.

Will we see special 'computer visible' clothing come on to the market, along with new arguments around contributory negligence?

It would be a horrible outcome but, given the institutional reluctance to hold dangerous road users accountable, one I could easily imagine.

Paul Cooke said...

"Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied."

According to witness, the driver had been watching a Harry Potter movie