I figured out Woodley both ways today. I consider this no small accomplishment, but I have a very low threshold for self-congratulation. I say that as I polish the trophy I ordered myself for Best Bike Guy Who Rode Up Woodley Twice Today Without Getting Lost. On the way up, the hill starts gentle, but there's a little kick after 29th. The way down is easy, but the road is ruddy and the little tires of the Brompton disagree with the potholes, which provides exciting pretense for swerving when riding down the road, which is fun. The only problem with taking Woodley home is that it leaves me on the wrong side of the Ellington Bridge, which is to say the north side sidewalk and so I ride on the sidewalk even though I'd prefer to ride on the road. So it goes.
I've been thinking a lot about speed bumps lately and how much I dislike them. Like stop signs, they're there to control drivers and in a world without cars, we wouldn't have them and me, a guy on a tiny wheeled bike, would be much happier for it. They might go away in our future of robot cars, when the robots, unlike the humans who currently drive, will know not to speed and then I'll be considerably happier. Other things that might go away in our robot car future include those rumble strips on the highway that make noise when you drift outside of the lane, but those don't really affect my bike commute, so I'm less excited about that. "No turn on red" signs and speed limit signs will also disappear in our robot car future (presumably the car will know based on GPS or something). Overall, I predict we'll live in a world with much less visual clutter, which I'll appreciate. Just think about how many signs there are telling drivers what they can, should and shouldn't do. The robots won't need them. But I wonder why, in the mean time, we don't take advantage of the fact that cars basically are GPS-enabled right now and more or less just computers on wheels and enact some intermediate steps. If you can map the entire world, you could add speed limits to that map and couldn't the car "know" the speed limit on the road and limit itself to that speed? This seems like a pretty good idea to me.
Yes, there will still be human driver error, but think of how many lives would be saved in the mean time if we just limited top speed. No more speed tickets! No more crazy aggressive drivers weaving in and out trying to get by! Of course we won't do this because freedom means the freedom to kill yourself or others by ignoring the law, but if we ever decide to not be as free, I wouldn't mind if we chose that particular restriction. We have the technology.