Robot cars are taking over. Time for panic has now arisen. Advances in self-parking technology have become almost seamless and autonomous driving modes are working damn near perfectly. In a couple of years, and as a result of their track record as the safest mode of transportation imaginable, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will mandate that every car be self-driving, removing the human from the driving equation.
And that’s great! It means traffic fatalities should fall to near zero, but what does it mean for my motorcycle and me? I’m still making the majority of inputs on my motorcycle, most without computer intervention: there is no computer riding my bike for me. I’m still going to be that rogue variable that computers cannot predict. Look at almost every human v. robot/AI narrative, who wins? The human, because they can be irrational.
Call this piece alarmist, but this piece is the man crying wolf before the boy was even born. It is alarmist. Is there ever going to be a moment when they ban motorcycles from the road? Eh, a stretch, but a faraway maybe. Can I see it regulated like vintage cars, where you can only ride them on certain days of the week at certain times? Eh, more likely than the former. But, there is always the possibility of losing the ability to ride a motorcycle with people wanting more and more technology and an overall safer experience on the road.
I’m part of the “Nintendo Generation.” I’m younger, I’m all for more tech, and riding modes, and buttons, and “nanny” features changing my ride. But I’m also a part of the riders who like the ability to turn that completely off. To me, driving and riding are still an experience. I don’t amount it to a wasteful experience. I enjoy getting from point A to point B. I know some people are busier than me, but what is more American than driving? Fucking apple pie? To echo the great Ed Lover, “C’mon son! Get the fuck outta here with that bullshit.”
I’m concerned that, in lieu of safety, a government agency is going to take away MY motorcycle, or heavily regulate it. Probably not yours, if you’re over the age of 40, you’ll be dead, or won’t be riding. But I have my future riding to worry about. I have the next 40 years of riding in front of me.
And don’t equate this to “Obama is coming to take our guns,” kind of argument. Guns are meant to kill people. Motorcycles are meant to get the babes.
I can see my alarmist future narrative playing out in my head. “We (the last diehard motorcyclists) will all live on commune type tracts of land, banded together by our love for anything two wheels. Our brand loyalties have long since gone extinct in order to preserve our species. On road and off road courses are set up in deep, remote parts of the undeveloped areas. We have learned to silences our bikes. The smell of exhaust expelled gasoline makes our genitals moist. Our ears, have become attuned to the whir of electric motors. Anyone riding an electric motorcycle is immediately drawn and quartered in the middle of the commune. We wait, clutching our bikes, wait for the government to come, pry their grips from out of our cold, dead hands.
“We’ll try to run away from them as they chase us in their electric, self-driving government issued Fords, Teslas, Chevys, and Dodges. With 1,000 miles to the charge, we can never win the long run. We try to outsmart their computers, taking sharp turns, relying on unpredictability, but alas, the computers have become too smart. The government agents shoot their laser guns (set to kill, not stun), hanging out their windows, picking us off, one-by-one. Our kind, slowly dies as we suck in our last breath of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrocarbons. We drift higher off of the fumes and lack of blood, to the great ride in the sky. Our robot overlords have finally put the nail in the coffin. Our revolution, amounted to a couple of digital pages in a history e-book. Our lives, selfishly fought in vain, for a couple more minutes of riding.”
Obviously, over the top, and completely implausible. Terminator-type robots will kill us all, long before this happens. But the threat is always there.
I just don’t want to see something, as freeing as riding a motorcycle, disappear. I don’t want to see it turn more into a “weekend activity,” enjoyed by dentists and doctors, because they are the only ones who can afford the ridiculous amount of taxes placed on motorcycles and riding. A majority of Americans already despise motorcycles and their riders, this will only compound the problem.
I don’t want to see a motorcycle and motorcycling become more of an “activity” than a “mode of transportation.”