Most people who ride motorcycles do it because they want to. A motorcycle is – usually – not the primary instrument of transportation. It is what the rider uses when he doesn’t have to drive.
In other words, it’s for the fun of it.
But what fun will it be when riding a bike is like driving a car? More precisely, a modern car – embedded with an array of “advanced driver assistance technologies” that put the driver in the back seat?
Those who follow this column already know all about it. “Technologies” that are marketed as providing “assistance” are in fact designed to exert control. To overrule the driver and – in time – to replace him as the driver.
To turn him into a passenger.
This controlling isn’t total – yet. But that is clearly the eventual goal. They are merely acclimating the driving public to being controlled, little-by-little. Just as the public got acclimated, little-by-little, to the transition of the right to travel unmolested into a conditional privilege, dependent upon the traveler’s acquiescence to serial and arbitrary molestation. As for example at roadblocks that force every traveler on the road to prove they aren’t “drunk” – and are all buckled up – before they are allowed to proceed. As at airports, where free people used to be able to freely travel. Now they must queue up for admittance, in the manner of the just-arrested being processed. Stand here. Raise your arms. Cue the patting down.
Those younger than 30 will not remember a time when the controllers had to have a reason – other than you just being on the road – to stop you. And interrogate you. When you could board a flight at the last minute, with a cup of coffee you bought outside the airport and without being subjected to degrading invasions of your person and personal belongings. Not to “keep you safe”- but to use “safety” to control you.
The same principle is being elaborated in cars by embedding it in cars. You need assistance to steer and brake; also to drive no faster than the speed limit. You are not allowed to do certain things with what you – amusingly – consider to be your car. Try listening to the radio while reversing. Try reversing with the driver’s door open.
Try driving without buckling up.
That’s not just coming, it’s already here. It is an inevitable elaboration of what’s already been accepted. That being the relentless pestering to “buckle up.” The “technology” that assaults you with loud and relentless ding! ding! dinging! until you relent – and buckle up.
Soon, the ding! ding! dinging! will be supplanted by the car not moving. Until you do buckle up.
And it will stop moving – come 2026 – when you attempt to control the car in ways contrary to the way the controllers demand. This assertion of control – by you – will be framed (is being framed) as impaired driving. The naive may be believe the term will apply only to those impaired by alcohol. In fact, it will encompass any driving that the controllers characterize as impaired, just the same as it is already “impaired” to have the slightest amount amount of alcohol in your system if you’re not at least 21.
“Impairment” will be expanded to encompass such violations as passing slower traffic – which often entails driving faster than the speed limit and driving in a manner that will be characterized as aggressive . . . which will become synonymous with impaired.
But car drivers are already used to such conditioning as it has been embedded in cars for at least a decade now, to one degree or another – and much farther back, if you include controlling technologies such as anti-lock brakes and traction/stability control. Note that none of these assistance technologies are optional – that is to say, features people who feel the need for them are free to buy, while those who don’t are equally free to not buy them.
Everyone is forced to buy them – because every new vehicle comes standard with them. This is not because everyone – or even most everyone – desires them.
Consider the implications . . .
Bikers ought to.
They are the last (largely) uncontrolled form of transportation that’s still available brand-new. This includes more than just riding them. Motorcycles aren’t – yet – electronic devices serviceable only by the dealer, who “services” by replacing failed electronic components. But that will change, too, as the same “technology” already embedded in new cars is embedded in bikes.
And some of it already is.
Most bikes excepting a few entry level models offer ABS, for instance. Most mid-priced and and up bikes come standard with it – along with other “technologies,” such as traction and stability control. As in cars, such features have their uses. That is not the issue, however – just as it never was with regard to cars.
The issue is whether bikers will be free to opt out. Put another way, will they be free to choose not to buy these “technologies”? And will they be free to turn them off? Not partially – but all the way off, if they wish?
The controllers’ answer will be – of course not. That would be unsafe. It is the same answer given car buyers who didn’t want to buy a new car without ABS, traction/stability control and the latest-generation of advanced “technologies” – such as forcible steering (and acceleration and braking) intervention.
Will riders be as passively acceptance of such “assistance”?
It’s doubtful – one hopes – because riders (unlike drivers) are a less passive bunch. They ride because they want to be in control; it is the main point of riding. Take that away and what remains is – essentially – just sitting, as in a car. With the breeze in your hair, perhaps. Assuming you can feel it underneath the helmet most riders are already forced to wear, also for “safety.”
Try to imagine a bike that balances itself. That can’t be dropped. BMW displayed just such a prototype not long ago. Imagine a bike that won’t wheelie. That won’t let you slide the rear tire – either by “excessive” throttle or braking. One that takes almost no skill to ride, that replaces the rider’s judgment with . . . programming. Here’s an interesting – and depressing – article that goes into alarming detail about what the controllers are planning.
It makes one want to just take the bus, doesn’t it?
And that’s just exactly what the controllers want.
. . .
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