autonomous cars won’t go

Google autonomous or driverless cars, and offerings expected from auto manufacturers using the technology, have been all the rage in news for the last year, with Google making real progress towards a workable vehicle and having 700,000 plus miles of testing under their belt. However, I don’t think Google cars, or any others, will go. Here is why. The manufacturers have two choices:

  1. Ensure that the logic of the car follows the law, the vehicle codes.
  2. Allow the logic to violate the law.

If Google and car manufacturers follow the second, they will be sued, and will lose, the first time and every time that a crash occurs.

The first is more far more likely, and the outcome more subtle. Following the law means such things as a full and complete stop at stop signs, never exceeding the speed limit, yielding to every pedestrian every time, never making unsafe passes. What’s the problem with this? Nothing except that most drivers will not be the least interested in having a car that never violates the law. That’s no fun!

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News summary June 20

State OKs railyard as site for courthouse (SacBee 2014-07-18); State funds site for Sacramento courthouse (Sacramento Business Press 2014-07-21)

Police search for suspect in June hit and run (SacBee 2014-07-16)

Curtis Park Court gets tax credits to build affordable housing (Sacramento Business Press 2014-07-17)

Elk Grove development proposal has strong focus on jobs (SacBee 2014-07-16)

Capitol Corridor looks to add Roseville-Sacramento trains (Sacramento Business Press 2014-07-15)

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News summary June 13

Note: My summers are largely for backpacking, so news will be sparse throughout.



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No to the southeast connector

In response to the Viewpoint: Sacramento County Needs SouthEast Connector by Roberta MacGlashan and Steve Miklos in the Sacramento Bee on Tuesday:

ConnectorClientMap2bThe southeast connector is a 1970s solution to modern transportation questions. It is based on the model of people living a long way from where they work, and commuting long distances, for example, from El Dorado Hills to Elk Grove. Many people are looking now for a different way to live, with home, work, shopping and cultural amenities all close to each other. They are looking for transportation alternatives, which are scarce in the Sacramento region.

The southeast connector will also produce sprawl all along the corridor. Even before the project is scheduled for construction, developers are wanting to turn agricultural land into yet another subdivision. Cordova Hills is just one example. The Sacramento region already has an oversupply of suburban housing and suburban office parks; we don’t need any more. Some people will continue to choose suburban living and long commutes, but the question is why the rest of us would want to subsidize that choice to the tune of $456M dollars.

The Sacramento region certainly needs transportation infrastructure, and some small part of that infrastructure might be new roads, but what we really need to meet the demands of people for livable places and a vibrant economy is alternatives to single occupant cars. We need a more extensive light rail system, a bus network that serves more people, frequent Amtrak service, and streets that are safe and welcoming for bicyclists and pedestrians. We won’t get that if we spend huge sums on the connector.

We know that freeways such as the connector do not reduce fuel consumption or air pollution. Instead, they induce more driving and increase both. If you don’t believe that freeways induce traffic, just look at Interstate 80. It has been under an almost continuous process of expansion, yet it is always congested, and the new construction underway will be full as soon as it is finished. The economic and freight needs of Interstate 80 could be met by a four-lane freeway. The other lanes are there for commuters. I don’t accept long-distance commuting as an economic benefit, in fact it is quite otherwise.

Though the viewpoint talks about $456M as being the “total cost,” it is only just the beginning. There will be interchanges and widening and enhancements, costing in total many times as much. It would be better to cancel the project right now and re-think the transportation network we need in the Sacramento region.

Capital SouthEast Connector JPA website

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News summary June 29

New lawsuit against arena asks for more community benefits (Sacramento Business Press 2014-06-27)
Elk Grove looking to develop multimodal station (Sacramento Business Press 2014-06-27)
Mixed-use project would add density to center of Folsom (Sacramento Business Press 2014-06-27)
Sacramento bike safety a factor in ridership (SacBee 2014-06-27)
Sac Valley Station renovations to get started late Summer (City of Sacramento 2014-06-24)

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News summary June 22




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News summary June 15



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