Forget jetpacks. Humans do a crappy enough job navigating in 2D space. Add another dimension and it would just be carnage raining from sky. When the future arrives, I sincerely hope crappy jetpackers aren’t careening down on my head while I eat astronaut ice cream. That’s not my idea of progress.
What I really see is pretty good. A day approaches when we won’t drive our cars anymore. We’ll be part of a generation able to say, “Oh, I knew how to drive. It was awful,” and young people will look at us incredulously as they eat astronaut ice cream and ponder a time when a liberal arts degree still seemed like a good idea.
When cars drive themselves a few big benefits will come our way. First, we’ll be safer. The mood or attention of the occupants of the vehicle will no longer play games of capricious chance with our mortality. And they’ll be quiet. I’ve heard smart people argue that cars need to be loud, so that pedestrians and cyclists can hear them coming. Imagine a world devoid of car sounds.
Look, I’m not trying to vilify the automobile or perpetuate the oppositional dichotomy of car vs. bike. I’m a driver, too, and I realize how integral independent movement is to our decentralized ways of life. We will always need to move around and transport our stuff, but there has to be a brighter future as technology advances and fossil fuels retreat.
Affordable eBikes, which are already surgingly popular in Europe, could reduce the number of vehicles on the road as drivers, currently disinclined to arrive sweaty, to their next destination, find an economical solution that gets them out of the flow of traffic.
I’m no futurist, a profession I can scarcely believe exists, but somehow in my mind the bicycle is a major player in our future days, one of man’s more perfect inventions, a vehicle that cleverly multiplies our power without requiring outside input. Maybe I’m just a romantic or a steam punk. Has anyone seen my top hat and monocle?
I do have one of those liberal arts degrees. So…
This week’s Group Ride asks what your future looks like? Is the scene I painted completely unrealistic? Why? Let’s not get hung up on the scarier consequences of global warming. Those will come. We’ll adapt. But how will we adapt? How will we get around?