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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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Back to the future?
Old 12-17-2016   #41
Tim Murphy
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Back to the future?

Dear Roger,

Personally I think the bigger issue, at least here in the US, is land use.

I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia. When I was very young, and up until I graduated HS and moved on to college, there were still active working farms in my hometown. That said, I could walk into the Philadelphia city limit within 20 minutes.

Since that time virtually every square inch of my hometown has been either built upon or paved. The physical dimensions of the city of Philadelphia haven't changed in those 50 years but the population has decreased by almost half. Meanwhile the suburbs have seen population increases of nearly 100%.

Commuting times have increased greatly over the years but that is due in the most part to the fact that people no longer seem to be willing to live near where they work? In many cases that is because they do not make enough money to be able to afford to live close to work.

When people making $ 100,000.00 a year cannot afford to live within walking distance of their work it's a huge problem. That may be because of income or it may be because of community and quality of live issues but either way it's a huge problem.

Around Philadelphia that problem was solved by bulldozing forests and cornfields and repurposing them with subdivisions full of cookie cutter $ 300,000.00 houses.

Cities get emptier, uglier, and more expensive to live in and former nice peaceful places become the equivalent of new cities even if they have bucolic names like "Windswept Acres."

Unfortunately, I don't see a way to change that, but I'd certainly be interested in hearing from anyone who does?

Regards,

Tim Murphy
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Old 12-17-2016   #42
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Originally Posted by mabelsound View Post
We'll all be in autonomous vehicles before too long, and road accidents will be uncommon...
Ha.....but not lawsuits
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Old 12-17-2016   #43
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Now I see the problem. I use "terror", "terrorize" as it was always used in the German language before some folks in politics and media tried to give these words a very specific meaning.

When a guy leaves the house every day at 6 in the morning and he says goodby to the wife by using the horn every day, he terrorizes the whole neighborhood. So it could be used for describing repeated and extremely annoying behavior and not necessarily for violence.

Even today if I use the word terrorize, everyone around me knows what I mean and no one thinks about some crazy islamic killers.

Btw: my definition for something I don't understand is art...
Ah: sorry. I wish my German were as good as your English. Or indeed any good at all.

Mit freundlich Grueßen,

R.
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Old 12-17-2016   #44
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Originally Posted by Tim Murphy View Post
Dear Roger,

Personally I think the bigger issue, at least here in the US, is land use.

I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia. When I was very young, and up until I graduated HS and moved on to college, there were still active working farms in my hometown. That said, I could walk into the Philadelphia city limit within 20 minutes.

Since that time virtually every square inch of my hometown has been either built upon or paved. The physical dimensions of the city of Philadelphia haven't changed in those 50 years but the population has decreased by almost half. Meanwhile the suburbs have seen population increases of nearly 100%.

Commuting times have increased greatly over the years but that is due in the most part to the fact that people no longer seem to be willing to live near where they work? In many cases that is because they do not make enough money to be able to afford to live close to work.

When people making $ 100,000.00 a year cannot afford to live within walking distance of their work it's a huge problem. That may be because of income or it may be because of community and quality of live issues but either way it's a huge problem.

Around Philadelphia that problem was solved by bulldozing forests and cornfields and repurposing them with subdivisions full of cookie cutter $ 300,000.00 houses.

Cities get emptier, uglier, and more expensive to live in and former nice peaceful places become the equivalent of new cities even if they have bucolic names like "Windswept Acres."

Unfortunately, I don't see a way to change that, but I'd certainly be interested in hearing from anyone who does?

Regards,

Tim Murphy
Dear Tim,

Well, yes, I was more interested in getting people to think about such issues than in imposing a 12 mph limit tomorrow.

Cheers,

R.
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Whooooooooo-hooooooooooo!
Old 12-17-2016   #45
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Whooooooooo-hooooooooooo!

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Dear Tim,

Well, yes, I was more interested in getting people to think about such issues than in imposing a 12 mph limit tomorrow.

Cheers,

R.
Dear Roger,

I can't believe it, I guessed correctly!

Seriously though, land use is a real pet peeve of mine. It took until I left the Philadelphia suburbs and moved to upstate NY. There I learned what rural people always knew, land only has value as land. Once it's built upon it's worthless.

Meanwhile the bulldozers are running and the houses further out in the country away from the nasty cities where Americans are forced to work are still being slapped up quickly. Only now they cost $ 500,000.00.

Such a waste.

I'll go on record and admit that I'm one of the people I complain about. I live 10 miles from Harrisburg proper and though I share the town name in my mailing address I enjoy sharing my yard with bears and deer far more than I'd ever enjoy living in town.

Regards,

Tim Murphy
Harrisburg, PA
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Old 12-17-2016   #46
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Well no. I wouldn't favor even more regulations and more loss of freedom.

Steve
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Old 12-17-2016   #47
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Originally Posted by Tim Murphy View Post
Dear Roger,

Personally I think the bigger issue, at least here in the US, is land use.

I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia. When I was very young, and up until I graduated HS and moved on to college, there were still active working farms in my hometown. That said, I could walk into the Philadelphia city limit within 20 minutes.

Since that time virtually every square inch of my hometown has been either built upon or paved. The physical dimensions of the city of Philadelphia haven't changed in those 50 years but the population has decreased by almost half. Meanwhile the suburbs have seen population increases of nearly 100%.

Commuting times have increased greatly over the years but that is due in the most part to the fact that people no longer seem to be willing to live near where they work? In many cases that is because they do not make enough money to be able to afford to live close to work.

When people making $ 100,000.00 a year cannot afford to live within walking distance of their work it's a huge problem. That may be because of income or it may be because of community and quality of live issues but either way it's a huge problem.

Around Philadelphia that problem was solved by bulldozing forests and cornfields and repurposing them with subdivisions full of cookie cutter $ 300,000.00 houses.

Cities get emptier, uglier, and more expensive to live in and former nice peaceful places become the equivalent of new cities even if they have bucolic names like "Windswept Acres."

Unfortunately, I don't see a way to change that, but I'd certainly be interested in hearing from anyone who does?

Regards,

Tim Murphy
Hi Tim,

I guess you missed all those decades when the 'inner city' was about the cheapest place you could live. In fact, it is my distinct impression that white people flocked to the suburbs not because life in the city was so terribly expensive, but because they were sold on an image of a shiny new plywood house with no black people in sight. Only in the last decade has my neighborhood been gentrified - so yeah, now it has become expensive to buy a house here.

Roger , glad to see that you continue to stir things up with provocative eco-terror ideas! In the words of Thoreau, 'why must man go thirty miles an hour?'

Randy
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Old 12-17-2016   #48
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It was interesting riding a motorbike on holiday in Bhutan, Roger, which has up to 20 kmh speed limits in towns and 50 kmh on the open road. In the context of their roads which were bumpy, hilly and crowded, it didn't seem a problem to travel so slowly. In fact, on a 350 Royal Enfield it was difficult to go any faster uphill. They had three things making going slower more pleasant in this Buddhist kingdom than here in Australia: a more forgiving attitude to other human and animal road users, slower types of vehicles on the road and shorter distances to the next town. Of the three I think culture is the biggest barrier to lower speeds being acceptable.
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Old 12-18-2016   #49
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My main route between work in East New York Brooklyn and home in Rockaway is Cross Bay Boulevard.
For much of its length it's four lanes plus safety zones and a median, and the speed limit is 40 mph.

We had several inches of snow before I left work on Saturday morning, and it had not yet been plowed.
Even with my new all-season tires I felt safe driving only at about 20 mph, as I tried to find the tracks made by cars before me.
However many of my fellow motorists insisted on passing me, including some harrowing near-misses!

Chris
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Old 12-18-2016   #50
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Really Roger? Set the automobile back 120 years?
"Back" goes by the assumption that the future is somehow faster, bigger, louder and heavier. Which was the concept of the industrial revolution - but that was two hundred years ago. If robotics eliminate the need for machine-amplified human labour, we will need different aims...
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Old 12-18-2016   #51
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If you want to stop accidents, coordinate the posted speed limits with the light sequencing.

The traffic schools calls what we now do traffic calming. Ha. All it does is make people made and they try to beat the next light which they can not do without really excessive speeding. So they all jack rabbit from one light to the next.

you can do it, but all streets in an area have to have the same speed limit including cross streets. Chicago used to do it. Now they figured traffic is a source of revenue. I no longer drive in Chicago. No longer visit much now that there is but 1 camera store.
Train ticket is cheaper than just parking fees.
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Old 12-18-2016   #52
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I guess you missed all those decades when the 'inner city' was about the cheapest place you could live. In fact, it is my distinct impression that white people flocked to the suburbs not because life in the city was so terribly expensive, but because they were sold on an image of a shiny new plywood house with no black people in sight...
Randy
The US experienced massive social upheaval in the 1960s. Many US cities experienced race-related riots in 'inner city' areas. Those with the economic means to flee to the suburbs (granted mostly white folks) left the chaos and disorder for a safer environment. No selling or marketing was required.

In the late 1980's in some of these same inner city areas young urban professionals began moving back into the city centers, rehabbing and repurposing existing housing. In some cases, this movement back to the cities has raised housing prices and displaced residents. An article on so-called 'white flight' is here:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/...d-well/399980/

If you want to contend that the US is still a significantly segregated society, I will not argue that point.
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Old 12-18-2016   #53
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. . . Of the three I think culture is the biggest barrier to lower speeds being acceptable.
I am sure you are right. Those who imagined that I was proposing a 12 mph speed limit to be introduced tomorrow are presumably those who are least able to imagine any culture other than their own.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-18-2016   #54
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I must disagree, dear Roger.

Tom's «vernacular» usage of «Terror», «Terrorismus», «terrorisieren» etc. is political, too: it's a very dangerous belittlement of the true meaning.

Not unlike when some German native speakers — certain goody-two-shoes in particular — call a chicken farming a «Hühner-KZ». Again, a very dangerous (and also politically shocking) belittlement what a KZ really was: a place where people were murdered under horrible circumstances.
OK: that makes perfect sense. It's like those who talk about "murdering" animals for food. By all means raise moral and practical objections to meat eating. Just don't tip over into hysteria.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-18-2016   #55
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Well, dear Chris,
your fellow citizen might have been obsessed that you're some «terrorist», working against their individual «pursuit of happiness», and that you're definitely responsible for «more loss of freedom», and hence they had to flee that dangerous scene, and so forth
Ah, but happiness must be pursued AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. And damn anyone who gets in the way! Or stops to think.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-18-2016   #56
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"Back" goes by the assumption that the future is somehow faster, bigger, louder and heavier. Which was the concept of the industrial revolution - but that was two hundred years ago. If robotics eliminate the need for machine-amplified human labour, we will need different aims...
Exactly. But many are unable even to begin to think about how the future might look. Or indeed, in some cases, to begin to think about anything much.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-18-2016   #57
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My car is 20 years old and fully depreciated. I drive less than 5000 miles/year. I can get to the grocery and back in less time than it takes for Uber to show up. Give up my car? Not likely. Nobody likes waiting around.
Indeed. Hence the last paragraph in what I wrote. "...the current model of consumerism, predicated upon perpetual growth, is even more demonstrably infeasible in the long run. As (probably) is banning private vehicles altogether: ask anyone who lives in the country, rather than in a city."

But all too many people cannot be bothered to read what others write: they read only what they think the other person should have written, in order to satisfy the reader's prejudice. The inability of those same readers to concentrate makes things worse.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-18-2016   #58
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I was responding to drew.saunders post, which is why I quoted it, not to your article.

But all too many people cannot be bothered to read what others write: they read only what they think the other person should have written, in order to satisfy the reader's prejudice. The inability of those same readers to concentrate makes things worse.
Um... Yes. But I was agreeing with you ("Nobody likes waiting around"), and therefore quoted from my original article as evidence of the fact.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-18-2016   #59
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In reading through these pages, I thought it interesting that Roger's OP didn't frame where the speed limit would be implemented. The "jump to" destination was the automobile on public roads. It sounded perfectly fine to me on a golf course.......:-)
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Old 12-18-2016   #60
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In reading through these pages, I thought it interesting that Roger's OP didn't frame where the speed limit would be implemented. The "jump to" destination was the automobile on public roads. It sounded perfectly fine to me on a golf course.......:-)
Bob
Dear Bob,

It did, actually: second paragraph, first line. "What if there were a 12 mph universal speed limit? Not just in London, but nationally? Or indeed, across Europe?"

Do I believe that we need (or even will have) a 12 MPH Europe-wide speed limit? Hardly. Do I believe that the current model is sustainable? If anything, that's even less likely. I deliberately presented an extreme case, because actually. my extreme case makes about as much sense as what we have at the moment.

Anyone who wants to drive at 12 mph on a golf course may be missing the purpose of golf.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-18-2016   #61
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Dear Bob,

It did, actually: second paragraph, first line. "What if there were a 12 mph universal speed limit? Not just in London, but nationally? Or indeed, across Europe?"

Do I believe that we need (or even will have) a 12 MPH Europe-wide speed limit? Hardly. Do I believe that the current model is sustainable? If anything, that's even less likely. I deliberately presented an extreme case, because actually. my extreme case makes about as much sense as what we have at the moment.

Anyone who wants to drive at 12 mph on a golf course may be missing the purpose of golf.

Cheers,

R.
The purpose of golf.......mmmmm, I'll have to think about that....
The future was shown to me yesterday when my 16 year old grand daughter announced that she could text with her iPhone, a whole paragraph without errors and without looking. I can see a future auto with no manual controls (steering wheel...brake pedal..),just a smartphone link and in that future on the road with my grand daughter, 12 mph sounds near sane.....:-)
Bob
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Old 12-18-2016   #62
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My car is 20 years old and fully depreciated. I drive less than 5000 miles/year. I can get to the grocery and back in less time than it takes for Uber to show up. Give up my car? Not likely. Nobody likes waiting around.
My car is 20 years old as well, fully depreciated, and I drive about 3,000 miles per year, but I'd happily wait 2-5 minutes for an autonomous vehicle to show up, take me where I want to go, and then go away (and not have to pay for insurance, oil changes, gas, etc.). The robocar that just dropped off your neighbor can "rest" in your neighborhood waiting for the next user, which an Uber car with a human driver can't do, so 2-5 minutes might not be all that unrealistic, depending on your population density and neighborhood traffic patterns.

Wouldn't you like to get that garage space back to fit a darkroom and/or lots more cameras (to keep somewhat on topic to the RFF)? More likely, you could just use it for storage, but getting that much space back should be really appealing to many.

I would expect most car ownership to quickly go to n-1, and n-2 for dense urban areas, once autonomous vehicles are very common. Sure, some would need or want their own vehicle, but many would be happy to reduce or eliminate their private vehicle ownership.
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I'm sure that would be the goal, of the service providers
Old 12-18-2016   #63
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I'm sure that would be the goal, of the service providers

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Originally Posted by drew.saunders View Post
My car is 20 years old as well, fully depreciated, and I drive about 3,000 miles per year, but I'd happily wait 2-5 minutes for an autonomous vehicle to show up, take me where I want to go, and then go away (and not have to pay for insurance, oil changes, gas, etc.). The robocar that just dropped off your neighbor can "rest" in your neighborhood waiting for the next user, which an Uber car with a human driver can't do, so 2-5 minutes might not be all that unrealistic, depending on your population density and neighborhood traffic patterns.

Wouldn't you like to get that garage space back to fit a darkroom and/or lots more cameras (to keep somewhat on topic to the RFF)? More likely, you could just use it for storage, but getting that much space back should be really appealing to many.

I would expect most car ownership to quickly go to n-1, and n-2 for dense urban areas, once autonomous vehicles are very common. Sure, some would need or want their own vehicle, but many would be happy to reduce or eliminate their private vehicle ownership.
Dear Drew,

If private vehicles were eliminated or greatly reduced in favor of ride services it wouldn't take long for the cost of the ride service to exceed the cost of owning a privately owned vehicle.

If you think I'm wrong then perhaps you can explain why TV that was formerly free costs $30.00 a month now? Maybe you don't watch TV but I think you get the point.

Surrendering autonomy to outside service providers is the wet dream of those providers.

Regards,

Tim Murphy
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Old 12-18-2016   #64
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Dear Drew,

If private vehicles were eliminated or greatly reduced in favor of ride services it wouldn't take long for the cost of the ride service to exceed the cost of owning a privately owned vehicle.

If you think I'm wrong then perhaps you can explain why TV that was formerly free costs $30.00 a month now? Maybe you don't watch TV but I think you get the point.

Surrendering autonomy to outside service providers is the wet dream of those providers.

Regards,

Tim Murphy
There's little or no competition in cable TV, so you're at the mercy of one provider. Off-air TV is still free in the US, if you're willing to pay for a strong enough antenna. In some areas, there might be only one large provider of ride services, but there's also the option of private owners "renting" out their vehicles when they're not in use, thus guaranteeing competition. If private ownership is cheaper, it will win, if it's more expensive, it will lose. I see private cars spending 90%+ of their time idle, and that's not going to be economically better than sharing a car that spends 50% or more of its time in use.

I'm assuming people are lazy and would prefer a chauffeured vehicle (without a pesky human chauffer) to show up fairly quickly at their convenience vs. doing the work themselves. Privately owned autonomous cars would cover the chauffer part, but would still sit idle most of the time, costing the owner a lot of money. Here in Silicon Valley, betting on the laziness of your fellow man has made many an industrious person a billionaire. I'm not one of them, sadly.
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Old 12-18-2016   #65
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Well, I have a darkroom and don't need the extra carport space, certainly not to store more stuff, including more cameras.

When would you expect this dream of 2-5 minute on demand transportation to be fulfilled for those not living in, as you say, dense urban areas?
Look in your neighborhood and count the number of idle cars right now, on a Sunday afternoon/evening. I can see 20 or more on the streets on my block, and likely there are at least that many in garages, where I live (Palo Alto, CA, which I very far from a normal part of the world). If only one of the idle cars in your neighborhood is available to you right now to "rent" to get you where you want to go, whether owned by your neighbor willing to get a few extra dollars from their idle cars, or by a fleet owner (and that "fleet" could be "Joe down the street who has space for 5 cars") then the time it would take to get to you would be well within 2-5 minutes. Even in rural areas, I could see people who want to own their own deciding that they wouldn't mind a few extra dollars from renting them out to neighbors. Elon Musk of Tesla is convinced that autonomous cars will mostly be privately owned and that people will rent them out, and I disagree. He's a "car guy" who loves to drive (like a maniac, I might add), while I dislike the tedium of driving, so I assume people would rather not be bothered by ownership if they could avoid it.
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Old 12-18-2016   #66
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There's little or no competition in cable TV, so you're at the mercy of one provider. Off-air TV is still free in the US, if you're willing to pay for a strong enough antenna. In some areas, there might be only one large provider of ride services, but there's also the option of private owners "renting" out their vehicles when they're not in use, thus guaranteeing competition. If private ownership is cheaper, it will win, if it's more expensive, it will lose. I see private cars spending 90%+ of their time idle, and that's not going to be economically better than sharing a car that spends 50% or more of its time in use.

I'm assuming people are lazy and would prefer a chauffeured vehicle (without a pesky human chauffer) to show up fairly quickly at their convenience vs. doing the work themselves. Privately owned autonomous cars would cover the chauffer part, but would still sit idle most of the time, costing the owner a lot of money. Here in Silicon Valley, betting on the laziness of your fellow man has made many an industrious person a billionaire. I'm not one of them, sadly.
Dear Drew,

From your response to faberryman I see you live in a place that is not very much like where I live. I can understand your answer when the perspective of a large urban area is provided.

I cannot receive TV where I live, and in the dead of winter when the weather is bad I'd not have any ride service either unless I do for myself.

Obviously, different strokes for different folks applies to Roger's initial post. And it most certainly applies differently depending on where the respondent lives.

Myself, I could never live in a city. I'd rather snare squirrels and dig for grubs and beetles to subsist. I know I'm not very common in that way of thinking, but it is what it is.

Take care and I rest assured I was merely conversing and meant no harm.

Regards,

Tim Murphy
Harrisburg, PA :-)
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Old 12-19-2016   #67
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We live in different worlds. None of my neighbors would rent their cars out for a few extra dollars to their fellow neighbors.
Exactly the same here. No one I know would do this.
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Old 12-19-2016   #68
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We have some car sharing options here in the city but they are not a huge success. You have to plan in advance to get the car you need and it's only affordable if you don't use it frequently. Such cars deteriorate faster in value because they are treated not as good as a private car.

Of all the friends and colleagues I know there is only one guy who does not have a car. Even the colleagues who come to work by public transport have a car at home. When people don't use a car often they normally decide to buy a smaller and cheaper one. It's rare that they decide not to have a car and rely on car sharing or taxis instead.

I don't see that in the next 20 years a significant amount of people who own a car today are willing to give up their car in favor of a autonomous taxi or shared car. It's more likely to happen in a handful of big cities here but not for the rest of the country.

We are still too far away from a traffic collapse. Biggest problem today in my city is not the amount of cars but the amount of road work because of the bad street condition and the planning of the road works. If there was no construction closing lanes or temporarily making steets a one way street, there is enough street for the traffic today.

Because the majority of people see that streets are more crowded than 10 years ago but not so much that it is an essential problem where a collapse is near, people don't see a need for new radical solutions.
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Old 12-19-2016   #69
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My car is 20 years old as well, fully depreciated, and I drive about 3,000 miles per year, but I'd happily wait 2-5 minutes for an autonomous vehicle to show up, take me where I want to go, and then go away (and not have to pay for insurance, oil changes, gas, etc.). The robocar that just dropped off your neighbor can "rest" in your neighborhood waiting for the next user, which an Uber car with a human driver can't do, so 2-5 minutes might not be all that unrealistic, depending on your population density and neighborhood traffic patterns.

Wouldn't you like to get that garage space back to fit a darkroom and/or lots more cameras (to keep somewhat on topic to the RFF)? More likely, you could just use it for storage, but getting that much space back should be really appealing to many.

I would expect most car ownership to quickly go to n-1, and n-2 for dense urban areas, once autonomous vehicles are very common. Sure, some would need or want their own vehicle, but many would be happy to reduce or eliminate their private vehicle ownership.
Dear Drew,

Sure, 2-5 minutes. But how about half an hour or more? There are fewer than 1000 people in the village in which I live, and we're one of the bigger ones around here, with shops, a school, a medical centre: we might have just enough people, and be enough of a hub or magnet, to allow the model of summoning autonomous cars.

But some villages are 300 or fewer, and that's before you get to the hamlets of under 20 people or the maisons isolées (houses on their own in the countryside).

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-19-2016   #70
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If private vehicles were eliminated or greatly reduced in favor of ride services it wouldn't take long for the cost of the ride service to exceed the cost of owning a privately owned vehicle. . . . Surrendering autonomy to outside service providers is the wet dream of those providers. . . .
Dear Tim,

This is not an aspect of autonomous vehicles that I had previously considered, but it sounds terrifyingly convincing.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-19-2016   #71
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... I don't see that in the next 20 years a significant amount of people who own a car today are willing to give up their car in favor of a autonomous taxi or shared car. It's more likely to happen in a handful of big cities here but not for the rest of the country.

We are still too far away from a traffic collapse. ... . Because the majority of people see that streets are more crowded than 10 years ago but not so much that it is an essential problem where a collapse is near, people don't see a need for new radical solutions.
Dear Tom,

That was pretty much my point. But 20 years isn't really all that long: a quarter of a full lifetime, maybe. Certainly if I think back to 1996 it doesn't seem all that long ago.

NOW is the time to start thinking about future solutions, rather than coming up with some sort of panic reaction when when the midden hits the windmill. There WILL come a crisis, and panicky knee-jerks are the common currency of politics.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-19-2016   #72
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. . . Hence I'd say, to a large extent, the food trade companies are to blame for this development. It's a shame that the stakeholders weren't and obviously still aren't willing to see that infrastructure dilemma.
No, I don't think so. A bigger supermarket usually offers a wider choice of better and fresher groceries at lower prices. Small shops have higher (proportional) overheads, and the specialist shops -- the butchers, dairies, sweet-shops, newsagents, tobacconists -- that I remember from my childhood 60 years ago rely even more than supermarkets on being accessible to a reasonably large number of people: not just a few hundred (or fewer) in a village. The same is even more true of cutlers, saddlers, kitchenware shops, perfumiers, or even accountants.

This is, after all, one of the main reasons why villages, towns and cities came into existence: trade. Suppose I want an external hard drive for my computer, or for that matter a pair of trousers. You just can't sell all that stuff in small village shops.

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R.
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Old 12-19-2016   #73
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Dear Roger,

again I see we have quite parallel trains of thoughts
Yes, but the places that aren't hubs or magnets -- the ones that feed villages like mine -- need transport. One of my former editors lives maybe 4 km away in a hamlet. We provide his nearest shops, post office, doctor, bank... His wife drives, but he doesn't. When she had appendicitis a year or two ago, he was in trouble.

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Old 12-19-2016   #74
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Dear Tom,

That was pretty much my point. But 20 years isn't really all that long: a quarter of a full lifetime, maybe. Certainly if I think back to 1996 it doesn't seem all that long ago.

NOW is the time to start thinking about future solutions, rather than coming up with some sort of panic reaction when when the midden hits the windmill. There WILL come a crisis, and panicky knee-jerks are the common currency of politics.

Cheers,

R.
Agreed on that Roger, as the clichéd phrase calls "the future is now".

Who'd say, just 10 years ago, that a little slab portraying the name of phone is actually a dozen devices from then crammed into one. Granted most of the examples involve telecommunications and electronics, but we routinely use or see things that even a decade ago were future material.

I've been doing a thought excercise about some locations and their past history, we do have many intact towns where not much changed in decades and/or centuries. I live beside a castle. Sometimes we think that antecessors had/were something different but they also walked the very same streets.
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Old 12-19-2016   #75
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Agreed on that Roger, as the clichéd phrase calls "the future is now".

Who'd say, just 10 years ago, that a little slab portraying the name of phone is actually a dozen devices from then crammed into one.
The smartphone was not really all that new when it grew popular. Sure, smartphones got smaller and more powerful, but I've been walking around with the basic concept for something like 21 years now - from a (still DOS operated) HP 200LX and wireless modem in 1995 over a variety of Symbian phones to the (prototype "Internet Tablet") Nokia 770 in 2005.

And transportation is not that much different - the writing on the wall has been visible for many years, whether it is proposals (e.g. in California or Germany) to ban the sale of combustion motors, or all the big money in the internet (Google, Elon Musk and the like) betting their money on novel public transport, electric cars and car sharing.
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Old 12-19-2016   #76
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Dear Drew,

Sure, 2-5 minutes. But how about half an hour or more? There are fewer than 1000 people in the village in which I live, and we're one of the bigger ones around here, with shops, a school, a medical centre: we might have just enough people, and be enough of a hub or magnet, to allow the model of summoning autonomous cars.

But some villages are 300 or fewer, and that's before you get to the hamlets of under 20 people or the maisons isolées (houses on their own in the countryside).

Cheers,

R.
You just gave the exact reason, why a universal 12mph speed limit would not be applicable. It's the same.
And if you only want the 12mph to be enforced in special places (like crowded downtowns), it's the same way applicable to autonomous cars (=only use the shared autonomous cars in crowded downtowns while people wold still drive their normal car if then are in a "maison isolette"
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Old 12-19-2016   #77
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You just gave the exact reason, why a universal 12mph speed limit would not be applicable. It's the same.
And if you only want the 12mph to be enforced in special places (like crowded downtowns), it's the same way applicable to autonomous cars (=only use the shared autonomous cars in crowded downtowns while people wold still drive their normal car if then are in a "maison isolette"
All fair enough, but my point was this:

The 12 mph limit is not a lot more impractical than the current scenario, and indeed is probably more sustainable in the long term. It could (just about) be made to work as a universal limit on a surprisingly short time-scale: 10-20 years.

The best approach is to start with the most extreme example, and then chip away at it. This is however the exact opposite of the approach adopted by most people, which is to make the minimum possible changes, usually too little and too late.

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R.
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Old 12-19-2016   #78
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. . . , we do have many intact towns where not much changed in decades and/or centuries. I live beside a castle. Sometimes we think that antecessors had/were something different but they also walked the very same streets.
Yes, but even so our towns and villages have changed, and often quite a lot, as I note in "Small Livings". My own house was once two small cottages, homes to the servants who worked in the big house next door (now the Mairie or town hall). Probably, the people who lived in them raised many children in each house: no contraception, and good Catholics. The oldest parts of my house, or at least the oldest outbuildings, are probably at least 500 years old.

There are a few new buildings (<50 years) in the centre of the village, and even a few very new ones (<10 years) a few score metres from the main street: the new school buildings (behind the old one) and the medical centre (behind that again). But most are at least 100 years old. They have endlessly been repurposed and, to a greater or lesser degree, rebuilt. The fact that plenty of the old buildings are still there, such as the castle (1000 years) and the church (maybe 800 years) should not blind us to these changes.

You may find this story entertaining: a time-jump of just 300 years to 2015, in the very same house as the time traveller knew in 1715.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-19-2016   #79
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The article contains the typical logic of an eco terrorist. An eco terrorist is a person that tries to terrorize others with his ecological believes.
I'm not sure that's how terrorism works.

In any event, even a lazy cyclist on an old three-speed, like myself, can average over 12mph in city traffic, so I don't think avid cyclists would go for a 12mph limit either. In fact, it would be a rather inefficient speed for a cyclist.

For that matter, 12mph would be an even less efficient speed for cars to operate at. It would be environmentally disadvantageous to operate (independently powered) motor vehicles at such low speeds.

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I must disagree, dear Roger.

Tom's «vernacular» usage of «Terror», «Terrorismus», «terrorisieren» etc. is political, too: it's a very dangerous belittlement of the true meaning.
Words have no intrinsic meaning, only an agreed upon meaning. You can't belittle the "true" meaning of a word, because it has none. This is why different languages use different words as symbols representing the same actual objects. Whatever meaning a given group assigns a particular symbol becomes that symbol's meaning. This changes whenever a given group decides it does.

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Dear Drew,

If private vehicles were eliminated or greatly reduced in favor of ride services it wouldn't take long for the cost of the ride service to exceed the cost of owning a privately owned vehicle.
This of course assumes that there'd be little to no competition between different providers of these services. With private cars out the picture and off the streets, I'd think there'd be plenty of room for competition. There certainly was in the heyday of streetcars, elevated railways, subways, etc. The private car didn't win out because it was cheaper, but because it was more convenient.

Street railways incidentally, set up their own demise, as well as paved the way for the automobile and the mass migration to the suburbs. Many streetcar lines were set up to sell land, a line was was laid down to some vacant lots just outside the city, people bought the land, built houses, and the line was then absorbed by the city's street railway. However, in the event the line wasn't bought out, it was usually run until dilapidated and then abandoned, leaving a suburb without transportation to the inner city. This was an incredibly common occurrence in the U.S. where such lines were under capitalized, and built with the expectation that somebody else would eventually buy the line and run it once the suburb was established. When these schemes fell through, as they often did, people turned to the automobile.

When the automobile caught on, traffic increased, and cities turned to one way streets to control it. If your streetcar company happened to operate on a street that was now one-way, you now had to relocate the rails and wires, which is not cheap (on top of that, many cities required companies to pay for any streets they had rail on, and car owners used those streets for free, so not really fair to begin with). Most just scrapped the system, bought buses and reduced service. Reduced service meant more people bought cars, and public transport spiraled into oblivion in the U.S. (and many other places) after WWII. This is largely why Americans have had such poor systems in living memory, and consequently such poor attitudes about public transport.

I think it's a certainty that public transport systems will grow increasingly important, very quickly, very soon. We don't really have much in the way of an alternative at this point. The automobile as we've known it for the past few decades is practically played out.
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Old 12-19-2016   #80
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What a crude theory. Where does this come from? (If from a serious linguist, then you didn't realise that also linguists sometimes are satirical.)

Tuna, did you even bother to look up a German dictionary before you stick out your neck?
Semiotics.

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