I’ve been thinking about the Daily Star’s recent article about the robotic cars that Google has invented. Apparently Google has already navigated robotic trucks across the Golden Gate Bridge and around Lake Tahoe, and the day is not that far off that we start seeing these things on our highways.
I am guessing it will take a little while for Americans to give up personal driving, but I think they will do it once they figure out that having a robotic car is like having a personal limousine. And I am sure companies like Wal-Mart will be very early adopters of robotic 18-wheelers.
This got me to thinking about how many people’s jobs rely on the fact that, currently, we have to drive our cars ourselves. Obviously, commercial truck drivers and cab drivers will see their jobs disappear. But so will personal injury lawyers like myself, because robotic cars won’t drive negligently. (And yes I think this is a good thing.)
How about the auto insurance industry? Robotic cars don’t ever collide.
Let’s not leave out my comrades who represent people accused of DUI. And the State Police — what use will there be for most of them? Traffic court? Gone. Same with traffic school. EMTs and ambulance drivers? They are going to lose business too. The daily slaughter we currently experience on our highways will diminish tremendously, so hospital employees will be in less demand as well.
You know that garbage truck that comes by every week? It will be driven by a robot.
There will be no person in the front of the UPS truck.
There will no longer be lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles, because there won’t be any need for a driver’s license, or driver’s test.
Auto body shops will vanish, and towing companies will struggle too. People’s cars will still break down of course, but not because they drove off the road.
Robotic cars can gas themselves up on their own (if they aren’t, God help us, electric by then) so gas stations will be dramatically different things, and there will be many fewer of them.
And people will be willing to accept longer commutes, of course, because they can spend all that time on Facebook or even sleeping. I predict this will bring about cars that are bigger, not smaller, and more urban sprawl.
The more I think about this, the more I see robotic cars dramatically transforming our civilization. Which is another way of seeing just how central the car is to our civilization already.
About once a week I get a call from some company offering to improve my Web site’s placement on Google. These people offer, for sometimes a lot of money, to spam the Internet on my behalf. It’s very annoying. On the rare occasion that I don’t immediately hang up, I will often ask them if they can guarantee me a good google placement for the search term “Tucson Bike Lawyer.” Invariably they say they can, so long as I hurry.
Now I am seeing the result of these campaigns that have been taken on behalf of other law firms that have jumped on the bicycle law bandwagon. There is for example a Web site for “Tucsonbikeaccidentlawyer” that some enterprising charlatan has set up, which you can pay him to be a member of. Check it out, there’s even a blog! (A really, really boring one.)
And it seems every personal injury attorney is promoting his or her bicycle bona-fides now.
As most of my readers know, I am cutting back my own practice in this area, focussing on just a few cases at a time, but at the risk of tooting my own horn, I would like to make the point that not all personal-injury attorneys are the same when it comes to a bicycle-related collision.
Not long ago I read a posting on an injury-law list-serve by an attorney who had a client who had been struck while in a turning lane. The cyclist had been preparing to make a left turn and was in a left turn lane when he was rear-ended by a motorist and badly hurt.
The attorney who represented the cyclist referred to his client as a “Lance Armstrong wannabe” and was asking the list-serve participants whether it was legal for this bike rider to even be in a turn lane.
I cannot fathom representing someone and showing such disdain for him that I would call him a “wannabe” anything, and the fact this lawyer had to ask a list serve whether his injured client had a right to occupy a turning lane indicates a shocking incompetence. I feel terrible for the man who has this person as his lawyer. And yet sure enough, the lawyer’s Web site identifies the lawyer as a “bike lawyer.” What a load of horse sh*t. It angered me to see that.
So if you are a cyclist and require an attorney to help you with a bicycle-related collision, please don’t rely on a Web label. Ask around. There are plenty of local attorneys who understand the particular challenges cyclists (and, especially, utility cyclists) face. You can always call me and I can recommend people to you, or you can use many other sources. There is a big cycling community in Tucson, and if you ask around they will steer you toward lawyers who know this area and are sympathetic toward the challenges bicyclsts face both out in traffic and in court.
Just don’t be the person whose “bike” attorney has disdain for cyclists and ignorance as to how the laws apply to them.
EDIT: Woops, I should have made clear that none of the lawyers currently advertising on tucsonbikeaccidentattorney.com are the person I referred to above, and for all I know they are all lifelong bicycle advocates who serve their bike clients with exemplary grace and skill.
Some of my bikey friends may be interested in this lecture. An interesting article about the rather different environmental and social path the Danes are taking is here. The article notes that the Danish people are ranked as the happiest in the world.
– Erik Ryberg
My physical address has changed. It is:
4711 N. First Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85718
You may also contact me at
Post Office Box 3371
Tucson, AZ 85722
My email address remains: firstname.lastname@example.org
And my phone number remains: (520) 622-3333
Mail sent to me or left at 312 S. Convent Ave will still reach me, but ideally should be sent to one of the above addresses.
My friend CW just sent me this link regarding the Tucson Padres v. Reno Aces game this Friday. For 15 bucks you not only get to see the game, you get eight margaritas!
C wanted to know if he can count on these folks to honor their contract when he shows up at the drink stand demonstrably and unmistakably blotto, demanding his eighth drink.
Sometimes when I look around at my country, I get pretty depressed. Hard-fought but long-ago supposedly won victories like, oh, you know, the right for women to have a say in what they do with their own bodies or for universities to be able to put a value on a diverse student population, suddenly look like they are being reversed. Candidates for the presidency fall over each other to say the worst things possible about public funding for education. So it’s nice to see stories like this one to remind me that the reason the rhetoric and vitriol is so high right now is because one side is losing. It may not always look like it, but the jingoist, fear-based, gay-bashing, ignorance-worshipping bigotry-backed dipshit agenda really is sliding away.
It’s sliding away and people like Paige Sultzbach are helping it do so — along with, just as importantly, all the people out there who are permitting her to do so. So cheers to them and you too, dear reader, for pressing on with them.
– Erik Ryberg
I heard a bit of a ruckus outside yesterday evening and wandered out to see what it was. Turns out the local neighborhood kids were teaching a young friend of theirs how to ride a bike. She had the biggest smile on her face as she rode up and down the street, veering calamitously back and forth on a brand-new pink bike with pretty handlebar fringe. Soon I noticed her parents were a ways up the street, showing pride and shouting encouragement. So naturally I joined in.
It made me think back to two years ago (almost exactly) when I bought this house. I don’t know why I even looked at it — it was not in an area I was really considering — but when I got here there were kids playing in the street and riding their bikes. It’s a predominantly Latino and African-American neighborhood and a lot goes on in the street around here — more so than I typically see in predominantly Anglo neighborhoods. I remember sitting out front just as I did last night, watching the local kids ride up and down the street cheering each other on, and thinking, well, I could really enjoy living here.
And I do.
Watching kids riding bicycles with joy and gusto is one of the few things that gives me hope any more.
– Erik Ryberg
From the Maybe There Is Hope After All department comes this from an article in today’s New York Times:
In 2008, 46.3 percent of potential drivers 19 years old and younger had drivers’ licenses, compared with 64.4 percent in 1998, according to the Federal Highway Administration, and drivers ages 21 to 30 drove 12 percent fewer miles in 2009 than they did in 1995.
Forty-six percent of drivers aged 18 to 24 said they would choose Internet access over owning a car, according to the research firm Gartner.
Of course, the article is really about some hipster MTV sellout cashing in his soul by teaching GM how to market cars to millennials, but the background data is still promising.
Here’s hoping the new marketing ploy proves a total disaster and the excessive throw-pillows and faux-graffiti strewn walls in the new showrooms will not fool young car-curious consumers into thinking driving is better than the Internet.
The most amazing (and foreign) thing to me about the above video is when the Netherlands’s Prime Minister goes on TV and tells the country that they are going to have to change the way they’ve been doing things and quit driving so much, but that it can be done without excessive pain. I wish our leaders had such frank courage and would tell us the truth in the face of our challenges. But their solutions always seem to avoid at a minimum denial, and more likely warmongering, xenophobia, and blame. (Cf. any of the GOP debates this year.)