Cake
  • Log In
  • Sign Up
    • I just watched the first episode of "The Last Motorcycle on Earth" on Amazon Prime this evening and it offers some interestimng viewing as it explores current topics revolving around the introduction of autonomous vehicles.

      The story begins three years from today. The Department of Transportation and the Internal Revenue Service have been enlisted to service a new law that will ban all private motorcycles in one year, and all private motor vehicles in 10 years to allow safer, cheaper better autonomous vehicles total access to all roadways, private and public.

      One of the main characters is a 50 ish motorcycle rider who owns a repair and restoration shop for antique motorcycles. His son is a major executive in the firm licensed by the IRS to purchase ALL existing motorcycles and arrange for their destruction, and the harversting of their raw materials - metal, plastic, rubber etc. The executive travels in a private jet airplane and is very enthusiastice about the increased safety of autonomous vehicles, and sees no significant loss to society by the ban of private vehicles....

      The reviews are highly mixed and there are legitimate reasons for less than stellar reviews. Electric motorcycles are not even mentioned - but one of the reasons hinted at for the legal removal of motorcycles is that some riders are not predictable or reliable in traffic or safe to surrounding vehicles - and must be removed to allow autonomous vehicles to be safe..... The hint is that the source of power, petroleum or battery is not really the issue, but the rider themselves.

      In this vein I recently read a book, "Why We Drive" by Mathew B Crawford which explores the impact autonomous vehicles will have on our freedom to drive as well. Some folks are not going to be happy to be required to sit back and leave the driving to the bot.

      The second and third episodes in "The Last Motorcycle on Earth" are not up yet, so I only saw the first one, but it offers some interesting things to contemplate.

      @Chris this series may get some discussion by riders, I suspect.

      Great drone scenery shots near Missoula as well.

    • To drive and especially ride, represents freedom and joy of being alive for many. But of course not all happens or has to happen at same exact times. There is a big distinction between transportation as necessity and travel for pleasure, be it ICE or Electrical propulsion. While there are reasons pro and against, attempting to place all these realms under one drastically controlled and regulated bucked, without even regional or geographical considerations will kill the fun in any of it. For example I'd agree to autonomous driving within metropolitan congested areas, in fact there is a strong case there for an entirely different transportation network, where cars should not be involved at all. However, having a robot "drive" my motorcycle - or even my car! - through, say, the Blue Ridge Parkway, inspires viewing a silent movie from the 60's kind of dull and isolating experience.

      Just look at EU regulations for motorcycles - written and enforced by non motorcyclists who could care less about "fun" but more importantly do not think car drivers can make same exact erratic moves, and are arguably much more deadly piloting a vehicle orders of magnitude larger.

      Thank you for sharing the series, I'll check it out for sure.

    • Thank you for commenting - as a rider of motorcycles and bicycles, and a driver of 4 wheels vehicles with 2WD and 4WD - I can certainly understand the need for regulations for the safety of the public, and the operator's and passengers of said vehicles. I also think if I am paying close attention and driving, riding responsibly my risk to most of the public is pretty small. Not zero, but small.

      A side note, three of my local neighbors who were my age and childless, have recently have moved away, and three young families have moved in, so now I have to inspect VERY CAREFULLY each and every time I back out of my barn looking for tricycles or small electric toy cars with young passengers driving on the gravel lane we all share. So I do feel the responsibility for others safety, very acutely.

      I, too, want safety on the highway, but to place safety entirely above proper estimates for the "costs" of that safety is whacko.

      And "Safety" does exact some costs, as there is almost no way a live organism can be PERFECTLY SAFE at highway velocities - if we were to restrict all vehicles to 5 mph, there would be far less lethality to crashes, but also far less utility to vehicles.

      Where society places the fulcrum between utitlity and "safety" is the crux of the question is it not?

      I am in agreement that in city traffic, autonomous driving may offer great benefits to humanity, but I would really regret having to sacrifice riding/flying along country roads or mountain roads to gain that safety in the urban environment.

      Mountain roads are why GOD invented motorcycles, aren't they?

      I hope "The Last Motorcycle on Earth" continues to explore these conundrums.

      In the first episode, the "government" man wants to erase/crush all motorcycles, even old Hendersons, and Indians, and other marques, even those over 120 years old, destined for a museum display.

      Erasing history is another subject for polite discussion, maybe. I see the latest statues to fall were Presidents Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, last night.

    • The first episode of "The Last Motorcycle on Earth" was a bit disappointing but poses questions well worth considering. Hopefully subsequent episodes will provide some answers. If in some dystopian future motorcycles are indeed outlawed, the last one on earth just might be hidden in my garage.

      I found Matthew Crawford's "Shop Class as Soulcraft" to be an enjoyable, thoughtful book, and look forward to reading "Why We Drive." Thanks for pointing it out.

      While there are much better solutions for urban transportation than automobiles and motorcycles, experiencing the 'freedom of the open road' has a timeless appeal. Riding in an autonomous vehicle may well be safe and efficient but will it be "fun" or satisfying? When I flew for a living I was one of those pilots who enjoyed "hand flying" in the climb to, and descent from, cruising altitude; as well as in the approach and landing. Automation has it's place in the cockpit, but for me, "flying the computer" is far less satisfying than "flying the jet". These days piloting a motorcycle along a twisting mountain road brings that feeling of accomplishment. If internal combustion engines are someday banned I'll happily ride an electric bike, but if not allowed to steer I'll just stay on the porch.

    • I found both of Mathew Crawford's books to be delightful and rewarding. I really liked his question about why is the largest advertising firm on the planet ( Google) so highly interested in creating autonmous vehicles, really?

      LIke much of the discussion in "Shop Class as Soulcraft" - I suspect that pilots, like carpenters, electricians, and surgeons, all tend to be highly physical reality oriented. That results are not evaluated via opinion or surveys, but by successful outcomes.

    • Regarding successful landings....

      Have you ever landed on tundra in Greenland?

      You ever chase cows off the runway before take off? Or land just 50 yards beyond a herd of zebra 40 minutes after sunset, in the dark?

      In the summer of 2015 I went on a cruise/workshop with Muench Workshops to Scoresby Sound, and we were to fly from Reykjavik Iceland to Constable Point Greenland along the inlet to Scoresby Sound where we were to pick up the sailboat that would take us on throughout Scoresby for a week. But the inlet was packed with ice, so that the boat could not meet us at the airport, but about 15 minutes away across the peninsula by air. So after we landed at Costable Point airport, we immediately boarded a twin engine turbo prop plane built for tundra landings.

      Shortly after take off, the pilot keyed the mike to the passenger compartment, and said " You probably have not landed this way before on tundra - it is not remotely like landing on tarmac - NOT TO WORRY -- we do this all the time, but be aware, we may/ almost certainly WILL, bounce a couple times!!"

      And we did, smooth glide down to earth, and then bounce up airborne a couple times before finally coming to rest quite safely on soft, spongy wet tundra..... Quite an experience.

      At least there was no wrecked aircraft at the end of the runway like there was in Costa Rica at a small strip along the coast , many years ago when I went there to go SCUBA diving.

      Here we are unloading - notice the rifles.

      I am STILL waiting for the next episode in "The Last Motorcycle on Earth" - Not sure why there is a delay, or if more episodes will ever appear now... ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

    • Never landed on tundra in the arctic, but I have landed with "tundra tires" on many soft jungle airstrips in Peru. And made low passes before landing to chase livestock, chickens and children out of the way. Occasionally a chicken would dart back at the last second and end up in the cooking pot. One strip had three levels, starting out with a little flat area and the edge of a creek, then climbing a little ramp up to cross a soccer field, then a final narrow ascending section that served as main street for the village. On one landing even the large balloon tundra tires proved insufficient to cushion the jolt of crossing a ledge at the beginning of the soccer field, and the elastic cord shock absorbers on the Piper Super Cub broke on one side, allowing that wing to droop nearly to the ground.

      I was stuck with no radio or other means to call for help and facing a 2 or 3 day trek across two steep ridges and three big rivers to get home. I did have a small tool bag and had recently obained a minimalist survival kit which included a roll of paracord. Villagers supported the wing while I removed the fairing and busted shock cords and replaced them with many wraps of paracord. It didn't absorb much shock but it did keep the wing up, and the light Super Cub jumped into the air after a short take off run.

      Deer, dogs, foxes, coyotes, and turtles are some of the runway hazards I've encountered, but the most alarming was a jogger. I was concentrating on landing a Cessna Citation on the centerline of a fairly short, narrow runway at dusk when a shadow swept by in the periphery of my vision. A junior college professor was jogging on a public airport and did not hear the jet approaching behind him. Had I been just a foot off center the wing tip would have ended his career.

    • Wow, that must have been frightening. In that vein....

      My sister in law is a very good pilot, and the only one I know who has actually killed a deer, in flight, while almost 6 feet above a runway on final approach in a single engine aircraft - the deer did make a mess of her propeller, but she did land safely and get stopped, but only after killing bambi. Ths occurred at a small short private strip in western Pennsylvania.

      I have been aboard several Apaches that made a low run over the air strip in Costa Rica before landing to remind the kids and dogs to depart the runway for a landing aircraft.

      In the Florida Keys my wife and booked a light ROW from a small private office for a tourist flight around Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas. But after three tries to take off running down the bay, at the tree line in front of us, before finally aborting , the large 6'4" 260 pound pilot returned to the office and found a smaller 5'8" 145 pound pilot who succeeded in getting us and their load of freight in the Cessna ROW airborn for a successful flight. True story ๐Ÿ˜Ž

      I watched a Beaver pilot open the door to our aircraft, in flight, to reach outside the cockpit, to perform some minor maintenance in northern Canada. As a passenger, I didn't know whether to be alarmed, or reassured, about our pilot's competence.

      I don't know what it is about runners - I had two of them, dressed totally in black, running on a county highway in the dark about 10 pm last night; with tiny headlights, and a tiny LED on their waist in the back that I am certain they thought was much brighter than it actually was. They were just ghosts in my pick up's LED headlights - almost invisible until I was within 30 yards of them. Fortunately I was alert, observant, and not speeding - only driving about 40 mph on the county highway. I know they had the right of way, and that was perfectly fine with me. But one can easily get killed while having the legal right of way too. If one is running in the dark, one really needs to make an effort to be seen by drivers. Black sweats in not an ideal garment for running safely at night.

      When I was working I used to commute about 15 miles to and from work about 9 months of the year by bicycle - which meant even in early December I was riding home in the traffic after 5pm in total darkness - bright headlights and tail lights and neon jerseys were the order of the day. Most of my ride was not in real lighted urban traffic, but dark, tree covered county highways.

      I have searched and searched for episode 2 of "The Last Motorcycle on Earth" without success. I am not the only one looking as episode 2 is a search choice Google offers me, so many others are looking as well. The first episode was originally supposed to be crowd sourced but apparently that wasn't very successful, and they ended up self financing.....