Today’s Headlines

  • Man on Bike Hit By Driver, Fracturing Back, at MLK and Crossover Drives in GG Park (Appeal)
  • Area Q Residential Parking Permit Zone Now Enforced (Hoodline)
  • More on Supervisor Avalos’ Plans to Introduce “Bike Yield Law” Today (SF Examiner)
  • Fire Crews Rescue Driver Who Went Over Cliff, Taking Down Power Lines, at Land’s End (CBS)
  • Two Cars Hit By Objects, Likely Beer Bottles, on Hwy 280 in SF (NBC)
  • “Chariot” Updates Shuttle App With Real-Time Arrival Info and Seat Reservation (Venture Beat)
  • Caltrain’s GoPass Employer Program a Large Contributor to Record High Ridership (Biz Times)
  • Oakland Gets $4.6M Grant for 20th Street Redesign From Caltrans ATP Program (GJEL)
  • Oakland Pays $25,000 in Settlements for Former Mayor Quan’s Car Crash (SFBay)
  • Oakland Residents Rally to Oppose Freight Terminal for Coal Shipment (CBS, SFBay, EB Express)
  • San Mateo Co. Senator Says Transpo Sales Tax Hike Impossible Without Bill (Daily Journal)
  • San Jose’s Lincoln Ave Road Diet Expansion on Wednesday City Council Agenda (Cyclelicious)
  • Motorcyclist Dead After Crash With Two Big-Rigs and Car on Hwy 680 in San Ramon (CBS)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • murphstahoe

    #Livermore: One person killed by car that smashed into gym. More here and on TV at 11am Photo via @LivermorePolice pic.twitter.com/7ZXNuUmpAv— Kris Sanchez (@KrisNBC) September 22, 2015

  • CamBam415

    Here is more info…
    http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Several-injured-when-car-drives-into-Livermore-gym-6521678.php

    1. Driver was 80 yrs old and confused the gas & brake
    2. Driver was not cited… ugh.

    Incidentally, how does the driver make it that far into the building before stopping? S/he drive half way through the building lobby.

  • murphstahoe

    Self driving cars.

    There are plenty of people who are naysayers now, but incidents like this will tip the scales once the demonstrations can get even small amounts of adoption. The problem that stops rapid adoption of technological change is the fear of change – which is most prevalent among older people. The most successful changes are those which have huge very observable benefits for older populations.

    At the very least one wonders if motor vehicles can have much simpler technology that stops acceleration once you crash into something.

  • I think we’ll see self-driving taxis in dense urban areas first. And it will be the Millennials who will take them first, but it seems to me seniors might like them, too. What do people not like about cabs now? They tend to be dirty, you never know if they’re coming, they are difficult to hail, they take too long to show up, the cab driver might be nasty, the cab driver might try to rip you off, the cab driver might drive like a maniac, and they are expensive. Uber-type services solve some of these problems, but self-driving taxis would solve most (and especially might drop costs.) If we could just get seniors to relinquish car keys for autonomous taxis + transit we would all be far ahead.

    It wouldn’t be hard to program a car to limit the rate of acceleration on low/medium speed streets and probably (via cameras) even limit or cancel acceleration if an object were closer than X feet ahead. Not that most people would like ceding this kind of control.

  • Darksoul SF

    Nice way to introduce a law (to allow bikers to run stop signs) that will cause unsafe environment . There should be vote by the public for this law

  • Andy Chow

    There’s no need for self driving cars. What it can prevent this is smarter cars that prevent people from making such mistakes, but does not require a whole new way to operate the vehicle, or a whole new way to identify the destination.

  • Andy Chow

    You think that a non-supervised vehicle will be cleaner than a supervised vehicle like taxis? Human supervision help keep people’s behavior in check. I strongly disagree with the notion that automation and elimination of labor is all good.

    Supermarkets now have self checkouts, but must be supervised and mostly used by people who buy few items. People who buy many items are still faster with traditional checkouts.

  • murphstahoe

    There’s no need for cars, period. There is no need for smart phones. But we like them and want them. Self driving cars will be light years better than non-self driving cars.

  • murphstahoe

    Andy, I understand your inability to look 10 years in the future because you are so focused on 1 year in the past. That’s human nature.

    Driver? Just put a camera in the car. A remote operator can monitor a dozen or more cars. Intrusive? How is that more intrusive than an actual person? But what do we do when someone starts messing up the car? Have the car drive directly to the police station. QED. And frankly, it’s probably a net win to have a few cars get made dirty than have a few cab drivers killed. Or have a few cab drivers rape a passenger.

  • Andy Chow

    You think driving is a chore that it can be done away with. But i think that a lot of people like driving in general. If it is a safety device that generally doesn’t take away the control from drivers, I think it will be well adopted. But if it is a device that you have to ask the computer for permission in every instance, people will frown upon.

    Cars have automatic transmission for decades, yet many drivers who have been trained to drive stick shift prefer stick shift at least on certain vehicles.

  • Andy Chow

    Ipod is 15 years old now, but there’s still over the air radio and vinyl records.

    Why do we still have tellers in banks when there are ATMs, especially it is easier to rob a bank teller than rob an ATM?

    By the way, people are soiling on the streets because there are few if any public restrooms. The reason that there are few public restrooms because there’s labor cost (that aren’t directly recovered) required to operate the restrooms. Don’t we already have the technology to automate the restrooms? If so why don’t we see more of them?

  • murphstahoe

    A lot of people 100 years ago liked riding horses. Now it’s a recreational niche. A lot of people 20 years ago liked hand writing letters to people. Now they don’t teach children cursive.

    Once adoption starts it won’t stop. When someone gets a DUI today, we allow them to keep their car and drive back and forth to work, because “they have no alternative. That argument falls apart with self driving cars – judges will impose more and more stiff penalities regarding driving privileges knowing that taking away a license isn’t draconian. Eventually, the majority will simply not tolerate human drivers – too dangerous.

  • murphstahoe

    Good point – there are still vinyl records. I’ll grant you that in 15 years, there will be about the same percentage of human driven cars as there are purchases of music on vinyl.

  • Andy Chow

    Horses were expensive to own and maintain and were not available to most people. Horses have their own needs and personalities, which made control difficult. In contrast when bicycles came along (before the age of autos) they were instantly popular because it gave far more control for the rider and didn’t have the needs and personalities of animals.

    With technical gadgets, there are many limitations built in because of personalities of programmers and engineers. For instance it is faster to physically write down a phone number from an app on my phone and then call rather than trying to figure out a way to cut and paste on the phone between apps.

    Could it be changed so I can call by touching the phone number on that app? Yes. Can I personally change it? No. Can I call whatever company that made the apps and ask them have it changed? No. Does the technology give me full control? No.

    With decades of experience in user interfaces, plenty of software companies still make radical changes in interface. The current trend of software subscription (rather than ownership of licenses) will make the situation worse. If some software genius thinks that some new interface is going to make usage efficient or whatever, they will impose it and users will have to suck it up, at the expense of the user, and will have no alternatives available.

    Vehicle control has stayed consistent for decades even with cleaner, safer, and more efficient vehicles. I don’t see it as an improvement if somehow the experience of controlling the vehicle becomes more of using an app made by Microsoft, Google, or Facebook, or somehow owning a vehicle is more like owning a smart phone with life cycle highly dictated by the maker.

    I think that smarter cars that don’t largely change the ways vehicles are controlled is more likely be to adopted and even mandated similar to airbags.

  • jonobate

    This is an incredible muddled argument that you’re making here.

    You’re using the fact that automation has not entirely removed human interaction, and the fact that new technologies have not entirely replaced older technologies, as an argument that self-driving cars will not happen at all.

    Just to pick a couple of your examples: manual transmission cars make up 6.5% of all cars in the US, and vinyl records make up 2% of music sales in the US. There is still a niche market for these technologies, but they have been largely surpassed by newer formats.

    Likewise, I think it’s likely that automated cars will form 90+% of auto trips at some point in the future. People don’t want the stress of driving for routine trips such as commuting to work; that’s one of the most attractive features of transit. I strongly suspect we will see a situation where most people will throw on the autopilot for the journey to work while they drink their coffee and check their email, but may choose to switch back to manual driving for a weekend trip into the countryside.

  • Andy Chow

    I am not saying that the technology will not happen at all, but what I am saying is that other than technologies to avoid collisions, I don’t think you can force this kind of technology onto people and that people most of the time will want to maintain full control. Yes I think that people want the luxury to get distracted, but still want full control whenever they want to, and not have to ask the computer through a custom interface for permission if they want to make a pit stop somewhere.

    People have had the option to ride transit for decades, and one of the reasons many don’t is because of the lack of control.

    So I don’t think 90%+ automated trips are realistic. Once you choose the technology you would be held captive to those companies. Would you want to be held captive to buy or lease new cars every 2 or 5 years, and with no resale value because the software operating the old cars would be unsupported? There are folks that like to drive new cars every few years (reason to lease rather than buy) but there are also many folks that can only afford used cars.

  • murphstahoe

    OK. So on one side, we have Andy Chow’s opinion. On the other side we have 100’s of billions being wagered by Apple and Google.

    Occam’s Razor

  • murphstahoe

    People have had the option to ride transit for decades, and one of the reasons many don’t is because of the lack of control.

    Nope. It’s pretty much speed and flexibility.

  • Andy Chow

    As if they never made failed products before like Google+ or Facebook phone.

  • Andy Chow

    It is speed and flexibility because with transit you cannot control both, when you drive, you control both.

    If you use the product long and frequent enough you would want to own it, rather than lease it, or pay for a trip each time. Unless our society becomes a single income society and where income earners can walk, bike, or take transit to work, there will still be a significant segment of society that want to have cars.

    If the choice is a Google car with no resale value and mandatory service contract, versus a car that people can resale and own, with the only difference that the regular car can opt out of self driving and retain regular control. I think many will choose the latter.

    In the computer world, many people buy computers that can be modified, from adding interface boards, overclocking the processor, to running alternative operating systems. Meanwhile there are computers (such as tablets) that can never be upgraded by the user, and every aspect is tightly controlled by the maker. To me Google car is more like a tablet, okay for some folks, but for many people they still want a desktop.

  • By that logic, no one lives in SOMA because it’s not cleaner than other areas?

  • Guess you aren’t using the right sort of bait.

  • jonobate

    So your argument is that people wont adopt self-driving cars because they would have to use a software interface if they decided to change destination mid-trip.

    Yet, we already do that. Sometimes when I’m in an Uber I realize I need to go to a different location, so I let the driver know I’m changing destination and punch the new address into the app on my phone. That way the GPS the driver is following just updates itself, and I don’t need to explain how to get to the new destination. With a self-driving car the process would be exactly the same, except without the need to give the human driver a heads-up on the destination change.

    I also don’t think you can force this technology onto people. I think people will willing adopt it themselves once it’s been proven safe and becomes affordable. Convenience is king.

  • theqin

    It doesn’t have to be a mandate — if accident rates go down significantly, then there will be a huge difference in insurance costs. When the insurance pool for human driven vehicles shrinks, eventually only high risk users will be left in the human driven vehicle pool. As a result regular vehicles will be economically unfeasible to operate and only a small subset of the population will want to operate a human driven vehicle.

  • Andy Chow

    We don’t know if collision rates will go down, especially compared to other implementation to either prevent or warn on-coming dangers while allowing normal control by the driver.

    If there are major collisions, the payout would be higher compared to regular drivers because if it is caused by a flaw in the computer system that means it can be replicated, as well as the fact that companies that will build this product are very wealthy.

    Car accident attorneys like to look for faults caused by manufacturers so they can win a much higher payouts.

    I don’t think that most people want to essentially give up control of the vehicle, but I think most would welcome technologies to warn dangers or prevent collisions by overriding at critical moments. So I don’t agree with the idea that people would want to become a child to be driven all the time, and I don’t think that is necessary to obtain the safety benefits.

  • Andy Chow

    With your example there’s a human driver that you can talk to. You can also make minor requests that are available through the app. Destinations are not just street addresses or coordinates.

    There will always be a market for those who want a car convenience but do not envision themselves driving a vehicle for whatever reason. But I don’t see it as a desirable replacement for those who like to have full control of the vehicle. It is kind of like vegetarian meat, a product that can be consumed by non-vegetarians, and might convert some people to become vegetarians, but is not going to take any significant market share from meat products.

  • murphstahoe

    With your example there’s a human driver that you can talk to.

    There’s also no human driver who is going to crash, attack a passenger, etc…

  • jonobate

    The point is, I don’t need to talk to the human driver to make my destination change. I do so, out of courtesy, but if the whole thing was automated it would work just as well, if not better. Destinations are just street addresses or coordinates.

    I imagine that self-driving will be a feature of your car that you can turn on or off, rather than something that is always on. That way, you can have full control of the vehicle when you choose, and leave it to the computer when you choose. Some people will use autopilot for every trip, and some people will use it only when they are too tired (or drunk) to drive themselves. It will not be something that is forced on to people, and personal preference will be a factor in how it is used.

  • Andy Chow

    There should be a robot spouse as well because human spouse can sometimes say no, some could be abusive, and there can be frequent arguments.

    These days why would people still prefer actual people answering phones for customer service/technical support rather than some machines. Human customer service agents can sometimes be unhelpful.

  • Andy Chow

    Talking to the driver is actually easier. And no, destinations is not street addresses and coordinates. If I want to be picked up lets say in front of door A of building B, GPS isn’t going to give you that kind of details. May be during the day you can stand by the curb and spot for the vehicle to stop anywhere it can, but you probably don’t want to do it late at night or in the rain.

    I see it kind of like On-Star or satellite radio, some kind of a paid service. So if you want to pay $79 a month with a two year contract, then you have unlimited self driving feature, or pay $20 for each trip. If this is the direction that it is going, many people will continue to drive themselves on normal commute.

    The trend is selling software as a service. This type of technology most likely will have frequent updates. So I don’t see this to happen without some kind of subscription, some kind of ongoing financial commitment from the customer.