There are two subjects that are consuming America at this moment:
1) Police-involved shootings;
2) Pokémon Go.
Indeed, as protesters take to the streets to decry the former:
take to the streets to partake in the latter:
And one cannot help feeling that our society is on a collision course between the forces of outrage and utter self absorption.
Until I read the above article my only worry with regard to Pokémon Go was that my kid was going to discover it, but now I'm also horrified to discover that apparently you can add virtual Pokémon (Pokémen?) to the ever-increasing list of New York City bike lane obstructions:
This is very bad. See, what this means is that in addition to dodging taxicabs, police cars, delivery trucks, garbage trucks, pedestrians, and of course bike salmon, we've now also got to look out for people who are playing a game that replicates the effects of LSD while harvesting their valuable user data.
And should you collide with one of these gamers while attempting to use the bike lane, it remains to be seen who the police will treat with more derision: you, the despicable cyclist; or the gamer, who deserves whatever happens to them for using a smartphone while walking--at least according to the State of New York:
I saw the above PSA on my local TV news station the other day and it really pissed me off, because while I wholeheartedly agree that it's not smart to walk around with your head up your ass I also think it's a little ridiculous to say that distraction is "just as dangerous when you're walking." After all, when was the last time a distracted pedestrian plowed into a bunch of kids waiting for the schoolbus?
It's also important to keep this whole "distracted pedestrian" thing in perspective. I mean sure, they're annoying, but they're also really not all that hard to avoid. Consider the guy in the video:
Who slowly walks out into the street from between two parked cars:
And of course pays the ultimate price:
By which I mean he has to buy a new smartphone:
So should he have been paying more attention? Yes. But should the driver have been operating his vehicle slowly and cautiously enough to avoid something that occurs regularly in an urban environment? Also yes. Did you hear those tires squealing before impact? If you stop short in the city and your tires squeal then you were driving too fast, and if you hit something it's because you weren't paying enough attention--even if the thing you hit wasn't doing what it was "supposed" to do at that exact moment.
And all of this is to say nothing of the fact that our hapless pedestrian appears to be in Albany, a city so boring it would be unbearable without smartphone augmentation. I know what I'm talking about too, because I went to college there for four years--and that was before cellphones, when all we had to keep us entertained was LSD!
Anyway, I'm glad New York State is spending our tax dollars on making videos that say pedestrians get what's coming to them.
Speaking of crashing into stuff, the National Transportation Safety Board is now investigating that fatal Tesla crash:
DETROIT — A second federal agency is investigating a fatal May 7 crash in Florida involving a Tesla automobile operating in Autopilot mode that failed to stop when a tractor-trailer turned in front of it.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which more typically looks into accidents involving trains, planes, buses and ships, confirmed on Sunday that it had sent a team to investigate the crash, which killed Joshua Brown, an entrepreneur from Ohio.
You may be wondering why this particular crash is receiving such scrutiny when over 30,000 people are killed by cars in this country every year. Here's why:
The involvement of the transportation safety board signals even greater scrutiny of the accident and Tesla’s Autopilot technology. The agency specializes in determining the causes of crashes and is familiar with the self-driving technology used in trains and airplanes.
“I think it’s very appropriate that N.T.S.B. is doing this, and I welcome it,” said Joan Claybrook, a former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator who continues to advocate improved auto safety. “I think there’s an urgency to find out if these autonomous systems are at fault because companies continue to push hard to get the technology onto the road.”
Makes sense I guess, but after well over 100 years of driving it seems fairly unlikely to me that we'll solve all the problems created by cars with more cars, but what do I know?
If only there were some mode of intercity transport that could carry large numbers of people over long distances on a dedicated right-of-way...
Ah, who am I kidding? It would never work.
More private vehicles is the only way to go. There are only 250 million currently on the roads, surely we can squeeze in a few more.
Lastly, speaking of creating less problematic ways of getting around, the Boston Globe has finally published something pro-bike:
To be clear, building a seamless and convenient network of protected cycling infrastructure will require trade-offs. On many streets, adding a cycle track means narrowing or removing car lanes, or eliminating on-street parking — scenarios that bring panic to car and business owners. Although research suggests that retail sales actually increase after switching parking for protected bike lanes, the proposals rarely see support from abutters. Yet we must acknowledge that our current transportation situation isn’t working for all residents, and it will worsen unless we take bold action to empower more affordable and sustainable options.
Removing car lanes?!? No! Where are the self-driving cars supposed to go???