Sunday 4 October 2009

Thought number one

I've been in bed all day with a bung neck - that's whiplash for you. Seems to last forever. Just when you think you're over it, back it comes for another dose.

In between strange dreams brought on by powerful drugs, I had a few thoughts. Here is number one.

How long will it be before our streets are cleared of signage? Can you imagine what the average street would look like with the sides completely cleared of all poles and signs and other clutter?

Ponder this. Signs have been put up everywhere to provide static or dynamic information to drivers - Stop signs, street names, No Parking, traffic lights and so on. However, with ever increasing accuracy from GPS, and improvements in localised broadcasting, how long will it be before all that information can be projected inside the car? If you have a Head Up Display in the car, why not transmit traffic light information from a box on the side of the road to the passing cars?

It's already done that way with trains in Europe - with things like the GTV going 250km/h, the train is moving too fast for the drivers to see trackside signals. Instead, signal information is passed to the train from an aerial embedded in the track. If the driver fails to brake for an upcoming stop signal, the train automatically brakes the train.

I guess that will take all the fun out of running red lights.

The same could be done with No Parking signs and so on. The car tells you that you can't park in a particular spot, or that you're going past a school so your speed is limited to 40km/h.

The GPS is already reducing the utility of street signs. I wonder if councils in 20 years time will bother replacing street signs as they rust and fade away? Or will they too go the way of council provided drinking troughs for horses on the main street?

All this smacks of intrusive, nanny-statism to me, and I am sure most people of my generation and older would reject it. However, the next generation seems to be more at ease with technology intruding into their lives, so putting it into practice is more a question of politics than technology.

Whilst I can see this as a great way to limit the ability of fucktards to ruin my day, I'd rather face the odd knuckle dragger in a car than have the state intrude into our lives any further. Better to have a moron behind the wheel than a million morons in the bureaucracy trying to control every facet of our lives.

The beauty of a bike of course is that it is much more difficult to fit such a system onto a bike - battery power to run all those hi-tech gizmos is the first limitation.

Which makes the bike the last bastion of freedom on our roads.

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