An under-appreciated safety feature of our roads

today’s xkcd comic

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I think pedestrians in NYC, Chicago and others will recognize the autonomous cars will stop to avoid them. Their algorithms will insure that.

At that point, autonomous car traffic will grid-lock the cities forever.

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i think there is talk of driverless car at mall going from parking spot to your position at front door now? what if it hits someone while moving?

Entertaining video on the origins of “jaywalking” that I think gives us an idea of where society and the law will move when pedestrians start impeding autonomous cars. :wink:

It’s still illegal to jaywalk. Generally ignored, but still illegal. We don’t have gridlock caused by jaywalking pedestrians today maybe because of aggressive cab drivers and inattentive motorists.

So what is the future legal response? Felony jaywalking? Death penalties for jaywalking (yeah, we kinda have that now but that’s pre-arrest, angry cabbie-style, execution)

Banning private cars in-town? Some cities already ban personal cars. Not sure how that’s working out. I’d guess that encourages people do their shopping in the suburbs and never, ever go into the city. The destruction of cheap parking (and other dumb things) pretty much killed retail in my birth city.

I’m thinking it will lean more toward banning pedestrians at grade-level crossings. We can take some of the money we’ll save by not having to pay cops to investigate wrecks and apply it toward pedestrian bridges in the middle of blocks.

We’d realize a lot more efficiency if we could eliminate traffic lights and instead let cars which are in communication with each other coordinate movement through intersections. Obviously that’s pretty far into the future, but I suspect the days of pedestrians being allowed anywhere within a roadway are numbered.

I don’t know about fake people cut outs but I do have a problem with those fake deer. As I was hauling a load of furniture to the Salvation Army yesterday, I noticed a yard with about four of those fake deer in the yard. I really had to look hard to see if they were real. Don’t want to hit one with a trailer load of furniture. I think they should be outlawed. What, more laws? We’ve got plenty of paper yet to write more. We gotta lot of trees yet.

I really like it when idiots put reflectors in the eyes of the fake deer and then put them out near the road on their lawn. Like I don’t have enough problems worrying about the real ones.

Not sure that is very practical. While I like the idea of pedestrian bridges over city streets, that requires stairs or elevators, plus interconnecting elevated paths inside the buildings.

My birth city had some of these when I was growing up but in very limited numbers. Cool for a kid to experience but ultimately abandoned.

People will ignore the law because it is more efficient to jaywalk than to climb stairs.

Minneapolis did that to good effect. St. Paul also did it, although political bribes made it less useful than Minneapolis (random escalators down to first floor to force you to go through a certain store, etc). We mainly built them to avoid freezing to death walking to the office. :wink: For a long time there was even an indoor park in one building in St. Paul that was a really nice hit of greenery in the middle of a bleak winter, but that went away.

But I’m not suggesting Skyway systems for other cities, nor am I suggesting that the solution will be practical – but it will make the car lobby happy, and things that make the car lobby happy tend to get done. Jaywalking is only one example - there’s also the destruction of public transit as a direct result of automaker actions against street cars.

I suspect people won’t ignore the law, at least eventually, because enforcement will be pervasive. Cameras are everywhere, after all.

Great comic, points to a real problem with driverless cars - how will they handle complicated, ambiguous situations? Not that people do a good job of that all the time, but I have a feeling that lawsuits will be flying any time there’s an accident with a driverless car, because the ‘pockets are deep’ - it’s now the manufacturer ($$$$) that determined what the car would do, not the driver (potentially 0$).


+1 to @texases

THAT right there is the key to autonomous cars. The engineers need to anticipate EVERY one of those situations and test for the car’;s reaction. And they WILL miss some, and then the lawsuits will fly!

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No, that would be ugly and very expensive. There are thousands of blocks in a typical medium sized city. Historic commissions would scream.

How about knee high fences between sidewalk and street? Historic commissions would still scream but not as loud. Beacon hill historic commission has been fighting for years over “rumble rectangles” (whatever they are called) at ped crossings.

In Germany I have seen many pedestrian underpasses beneath major intersections. Wide, pleasant, well-used, safe-feeling public spaces.

They are even more expensive than pedestrialn bridges.

There are a couple pedestrian bridges in downtown Baltimore. They are above a one way road that is 5 lanes wide. There are an extra 2 turn only lanes at this point, and I think the reason for the bridges is to keep traffic moving when the five lanes have the green light.

The underpasses may well cost more, but I think in many places worth it. Pedestrians who have to climb a bridge and have all that traffic buzzing under them are in an unpleasant and exposed situation, and if they are not also enclosed in a cage, some among them can and do drop stuff into the traffic.

The underpasses are a calm, pleasant respite from the car traffic. Cost more? Very possible. Worth more? We get what we pay for.

Underpass is another opportunity to be mugged when tunnel traffic is light. The underpass isn’t all good things.

If they anticipate more of them than our drivers do we will have fewer accidents even if we have more lawsuits; I’d prefer a lawsuit to a fatality.

Lots of them are occupied in Albuquerque, avoided because of crime in Los Angeles. I’ve seen some locked up because of crime.

Albuquerque has a few overpasses on our busiest streets; I enjoy using them.

Generally they go hand-in-hand. No loss, no lawsuit. There will be property damage events, there likely will be fatalities involving the “which one dies” scenario. Does the car save its passengers or that pedestrian in the street? What would Asimov say?

It seems a lot of people have mistaken underpasses for urinals in my experience.

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