back to article Google robo-car suffers brain freeze after seeing hipster cyclist

A cyclist riding a fixed-gear bike claims to have brought a Google robo-car to a standstill. The rider, one “Oxtox” took to the forums of Road Bike Review with a tale in which he spotted “a Google self-driving Lexus”. Oxtox says “near the end of my ride today... we both stopped at an intersection with 4-way stop signs.” The …

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            1. DougS Silver badge

              Re: As Mythbusters demonstrated...

              Roundabouts are becoming more common in many US cities. Where I live in the midwest there are over a dozen now. They like to place them in areas where they don't foresee the traffic ever reaching a volume where lights become necessary, but don't want to back up traffic the way a four way stop can.

              They sometimes act like a stop or yield sign for those unfamiliar with them, but most of the time traffic flows through them pretty well. The more they build the more comfortable with them people around here have become. The delays I see tend to be people with plates indicating they are from more rural counties that likely don't have (or need) them, or out state of plates which probably also indicate people who don't have them where they normally drive.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: As Mythbusters demonstrated...

                "They like to place them in areas where they don't foresee the traffic ever reaching a volume where lights become necessary,"

                Lights slow traffic down more than roundabouts. The difference is that when roundabouts gridlock they do so _hard_.

                Lights in combination with roundabouts are common in a number of locations. They are often only activated during peak periods.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "while in the UK you drive on the left (a left-hand)"

            Must be an obscure definition. In the UK they drive right-hand drive vehicles, no such thing as a "driving hand". They often refer to nearside and farside though to designate a side of the car. Also they always give priority to the right, there isn't a 4 way stop afaik, it will either be a single stop, two give ways and a free through or it will be a roundabout, either full or mini.

            1. ravenviz Silver badge
              Headmaster

              Re: nearside and Gary Larson?

              Ahem, I believe it is nearside and offside!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: nearside and Gary Larson?

                "I believe it is nearside and offside!",

                Doh! Yes, that's what I meant...

            2. John H Woods Silver badge

              "They often refer to nearside and farside though to designate a side of the car"

              ITYM nearside and OFFside, And we use the left in the UK for the same reason we mount our horses from the left, it keeps one's sword / lance arm free when mounting and available to engage oncoming traffic when riding!

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                "And we use the left in the UK for the same reason we mount our horses from the left,"

                Virtually the entire world used the left side (for much the same reasons as elaborated)

                Europe only moved to the right side when Napolean Bonaparte decreed it and sidedness tended to go with colonial expansion. (It only became important once motor vehicles were common).

                Interestingly, there are stats which show that the crash rate is generally lower in countries which drive on the left as people are more likely to steer out of head on crashes.

                Heavy carts tended to have the driver sitting curbside as that way he could see more easily when manouvering for deliveries. There are a few places in the world where the handedness of the driving is changed from the norm for similar reasons (Benmore dam access tunnel in New Zealand is one example, so that tour bus drivers can accurately assess their distance from the rather unforgiving tunnel wall.)

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  "Europe only moved to the right side when Napolean Bonaparte decreed it."

                  Myth. Danté records in the 13th century that traffic regulations were necessary on a Florentine bridge and that the traffic lanes were on the right. This practice seems to have spread as other towns became big enough to need traffic controls.

                  1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: "Europe only moved to the right side when Napolean Bonaparte decreed it."

                    "traffic regulations were necessary on a Florentine bridge and that the traffic lanes were on the right."

                    I'm aware of that. Given the normal position of a coach or carriage driver of the period, it's logical to go to the right on a narrow passageway such as a bridge. You need to be able to see how close your wheels are to the edge as this is more critical than possibly bumping the other coach.

                    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                      Re: "Europe only moved to the right side when Napolean Bonaparte decreed it."

                      "Heavy carts tended to have the driver sitting curbside as that way he could see more easily when manouvering for deliveries. There are a few places in the world where the handedness of the driving is changed from the norm for similar reasons."

                      "I'm aware of that. Given the normal position of a coach or carriage driver of the period, it's logical to go to the right on a narrow passageway such as a bridge. You need to be able to see how close your wheels are to the edge as this is more critical than possibly bumping the other coach."

                      If the edge of the road is more important than oncoming traffic, then the driver's seat is to the edge side. Two other examples of this: open pit mine trucks (no guardrails, so edge observation is a matter of life and death) and mail trucks (so that mail/post boxes in places that use them are within arm's reach of the truck driver).

            3. J Bourne

              There are four way junctions in the UK, and will have either four give ways, four stops or no road markings at all. The rules of precedence of arrival apply first then give way to the right. Where two vehicles are facing each other across the junction and one is indicating to turn across the others path then I'm not sure who has right of way (if anyone). similarly there would be a deadlock to resolve if all 4 approaches were to be occupied simultaneously (unlikely, these sort of junctions are never in busy locations).

              1. Vic

                There are four way junctions in the UK

                Not many without traffic lights...

                Where two vehicles are facing each other across the junction and one is indicating to turn across the others path then I'm not sure who has right of way

                When turning across traffic, the oncoming traffic has priority. It *used* to be the case that you had to turn behind any oncoming traffic that is also turning across, unless the road markings say otherwise - but last time I looked, that has been reduced to a recommendation only.

                Vic.

              2. Charles 9 Silver badge

                "Where two vehicles are facing each other across the junction and one is indicating to turn across the others path then I'm not sure who has right of way (if anyone)."

                When two opposing cars meet at an intersection at the same time:

                - If both are going straight, there is no conflict and both can proceed within the law.

                - If both cars are turning in the same relative direction, there is no conflict and both can proceed within the law.

                - If one is turning and one is going straight, the turning car yields to the ongoing car.

                - If both cars are tuning in opposite relative directions such that they'll meet on the same street, the one turning across traffic yields to the one who doesn't have to cross traffic to complete the turn (IOW, the one turning opposite the driving side yields to the one turning with the driving side).

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                > Where two vehicles are facing each other across the junction and one is indicating to turn across the others path then I'm not sure who has right of way (if anyone).

                In Sweden, the turning vehicle should yield to the one going straight.

                If both are turning across the road (left here) the passage could be done 2 ways, either go straight and pass each other as if both going straight, and then turn (NEVER seen this practiced, but it's mentioned in the theory books), or both vehicles 'cut' the turn and let the other vehicle pass 'on the wrong side'. I'd expect 'interesting' things would occur if one driver each picked a different method...

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  "both vehicles 'cut' the turn and let the other vehicle pass 'on the wrong side'. I'd expect 'interesting' things would occur if one driver each picked a different method..."

                  I think most traffic codes prescribe the latter method, as this has the practical consideration that neither car has to cross the other's path, meaning each can proceed at his/her own pace.

                  1. Vic

                    I think most traffic codes prescribe the latter method, as this has the practical consideration that neither car has to cross the other's path

                    More importantly, both cars can see the oncoming traffic.

                    Vic.

            4. Vic

              They often refer to nearside and farside though

              Nearside and offside

              Also they always give priority to the right

              Do we buggery. That's the French. Sometimes.

              Vic.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                That's the French.

                - Priorité a droite. Because in a well organised republic, there must be a sufficiency of business for car bodyshops. And the nausée, the existential dread of existence, this must be fended off by the exciting possibility of collisions at street corners. Is this not so, Antoine?

                -I do not know, chérie, because I am contemplating this madeleine and asking myself, is it true that we French are logical, rational and philosophical or is it just that we think we are, and our traffic regulations, far from being a statist dream of order and discipline, are in fact nothing but a bétise sanglante?

          2. Guus Leeuw
            Joke

            Dear Sir,

            the US does not make you drive on the right... In fact, for some people the US advices that they drive on the left...

            Regards,

            Guus

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Fraggle850

    '...useful during track cycling spring races...'

    Yes, but what techniques do they use during the other three seasons?

    1. Michael M

      Re: '...useful during track cycling spring races...'

      Don't concern yourself, it's all in the passed.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crushed nut algorithm

    I remember the first time that I rode a fixie on a banked track. After a sprint I stopped pedalling but did not realise that I had to relax my leg muscles. Having my feet attached to the pedals meant that I was repeatedly thrown up and down in a rapid manner. My nuts were being hammered into the hard saddle. You only do that once.

    1. Joey M0usepad Silver badge

      Re: Crushed nut algorithm

      so they really are fixed? wasnt clear in the article. What on earth is the point of a fixie?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Crushed nut algorithm

        According to Richard's Bicycle Book ( late nineties edition), the only purpose of fixed-wheel bikes was for training - forcing the rider to spin quickly when going down hill and pedal powerfully when going up can help tone their legs.

        If I lived in a mostly flat area, I might not bother with gears (one less mechanism to maintain, and a single-speed bike can have thicker, more durable chains and sprockets), but free-wheel hubs are so reliable that there is no practical reason not to fit one.

        Each to their own. My personal preference for a flat city would be a BMX (if chained to a fence those small tough wheels present a challenge to any pisshead who wishes to kick them in), but I would respect the choice of anyone riding a cyclocross bike, hybrid, folding Brompton, mountain bike, whatever if it works for them.

        1. Grikath Silver badge

          Re: Crushed nut algorithm @Dave 126

          "If I lived in a mostly flat area, I might not bother with gears "

          The Netherlands are notoriously flat, this means you're also very much exposed to the fickle follies of wind... We cloggies love gears on our bikes, this may be a hint...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Crushed nut algorithm

          "f I lived in a mostly flat area, I might not bother with gears (one less mechanism to maintain, and a single-speed bike can have thicker, more durable chains and sprockets)"

          You can have as strong chains and sprockets as you like with modern hub gears. My son in law is a convert, and he lives in one of the hilliest parts of the country and carries a child on a child seat, so the "extra" gears of derailleurs don't seem that essential.

      2. theOtherJT

        Re: What on earth is the point of a fixie?

        You can do pretty awesome stunts on them, as well as ride them backwards :D

        so... on roads? None at all, and in combination with clip-in shoes they're bloody dangerous.

      3. Grikath Silver badge

        Re: Crushed nut algorithm

        "What on earth is the point of a fixie?"

        Weight reduction. The things really are only used in track-cycling by sane people (for a given level of sanity, if you're pursueing that particular sport) .

        They're not particularly useful on normal roads, and actually relatively dangerous to use there, given that the fixed gears mean you can't properly bank your bike in turns at speed without running the risk of hitting the ground with your pedals, which is especially unfunny if your feet are also strapped to said pedals. There's a solid reason speedcycling tracks have those heavily banked corners....

        1. Joey M0usepad Silver badge

          Re: Crushed nut algorithm

          well , thanks for the replies folks. I see now that on the road a fixie is a bloody stupid and dangerous idea . no wonder the google car was surprised. All to save the weight of a little ratchet mechanism on the back hub! (20grams?)

          1. DocJames
            Coat

            Re: Crushed nut algorithm @Joey M0usepad

            All to save the weight of a little ratchet mechanism on the back hub! (20grams?)

            Additional weight is saved: you don't need brakes. This (again) isn't too much in itself. But then you don't need braking surfaces on your rims (or disc brakes, which are heavy). And rim mass obviously has significant impact on acceleration.

            And finally, you've seriously negated the chance of something breaking or need for maintenance. No gears/sprockets/freewheel, no brakes - just about all that can go wrong is the headset, tubes or chain. This is a good bike for riding around town. It is of course perfect for riding round a track.

            Still agree they're bloody lethal (and I quite want one; wouldn't ride on roads in the UK though). My grandmother told me about all the hard men in her cycling club riding fixies (freewheels were for wimps) for pretty much all the reasons I've outlined above. 1930s were a while ago though in terms of bike technology...

            Mine's the fluorescent one (with long sleeves, long back short front and weird back pockets: design is everywhere, once you start looking)

  4. Your alien overlord - fear me

    "during track cycling spring races" - what technique do they use in summer,autumn and winter races?

  5. Ian Emery Silver badge

    Joined up thinking

    People who ride fixies on public roads are morons.

    And so are probably Apple customers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Joined up thinking

      Yawn..

    2. Lionel Baden

      Re: Joined up thinking

      Way to obvious, but have an upvote to annoy others :D

      This whole thread is brilliant for a Friday morning. Grinning my ass off

      1. Guus Leeuw

        Re: Joined up thinking

        It works on a Monday morning / lunch time as well!

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Joined up thinking

      Apple owners include some drivers of 10 year-old VW Passat estates, some pedestrians who wear Tricker's brogues, some skateboarders riding Independent decks, some users of the Swindon to Paddington rail line etc etc

      Riders of fixie bikes though don't really want an iPhone. They want a WASP T12 SpeechTool: http://trashbat.co.ck/

      1. Trygve Henriksen

        Re: Joined up thinking

        And this Appleist drives a 1999 Citroën Berlingo.

        I have also been seen on a very, very cheap Chinese scooter(may it rust in pieces... what little isn't rotted-out plastic) and have an old 21gear bicycle that has been converted to full PEDELEC electric bike standard...

        I've even been known to take the bust to work sometimes...

        1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
          Gimp

          Re: I've even been known to take the bust to work sometimes...

          Ooooh!

          Where can I get I bust I can travel to work in?

          Do I sit in the cleavage?

  6. Hugh Pumphrey

    Track Stand? Bah.

    As a regular cycle commuter for the last 40 years or so, there are few things that provoke a greater level of irrational annoyance in me than people who do a wobbly track stand at traffic lights. I struggle to resist the urge to push them over. Put your Bl**dy foot on the floor! And if it is too hard to get your foot off the pedal, then those shoes and pedals belong on a race track, not on a public road.

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: Track Stand? Bah.

      Completely agree.

      automatic pedals can be ok for city, just unclip:it is safer.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Track Stand? Bah.

      Track Stand? Bah.

      As a regular cycle commuter for the last 40 years or so, there are few things that provoke a greater level of irrational annoyance in me than people who do a wobbly track stand at traffic lights. I struggle to resist the urge to push them over. Put your Bl**dy foot on the floor! And if it is too hard to get your foot off the pedal, then those shoes and pedals belong on a race track, not on a public road.

      I would normally agree (and I upvoted you), but upsetting a Google car with that?

      All is forgiven.

      :)

    3. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Track Stand? Bah.

      That's nothing. The track stand was also what killed slow bicycle racing. I think one rider was able to pull off a track stand for several hours, hinting that if this kept up, there would soon be a point where a race would never finish in a reasonable length of time.

    4. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Track Stand? Bah.

      Can't they afford a proper bicycle?

      Bottom end Shimano setups are not that expensive. Though I note that Sturmey Archer hubs cost a lot more than they used to.

      Last time I road a fixed gear bike I was small and it had stabilisers

      My bicycle has 15 gears!

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Track Stand? Bah.

        >Sturmey Archer hubs cost a lot more than they used to.

        Haha! You should see the price of Rholoff 14 speed hubs.... about £800! However, people who are setting on a 10,000 mile expedition by bike find the reliability and minimal maintenance worth the high asking price and extra weight.

      2. ravenviz Silver badge
        Boffin

        15 gears?

        Well, 15 gear combinations which you'd never sensibly use all of*. My bike has 21 gear combinations (3 front x 7 back) and I use all 7 on the front middle cog, and about 2 backs each on the other two fronts, so in all is 11 +/-.

        *apparently you can weaken the chain links on some combinations

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: 15 gears?

          I use the low range ones mainly as I am heavy!

        2. Graham Marsden

          @ravenviz - Re: 15 gears?

          > apparently you can weaken the chain links on some combinations

          Bicycle chains have a degree of flexibility, but they are really designed to transfer energy in a straight line.

          So if you go from, for instance, the left-hand front chainwheel to the right-most sprocket on the rear wheel, you'll be putting a hell of a lot of lateral strain on the chain that it's not meant to take and this will cause excessive wear on it and the sides of the sprockets too.

          The point of 12 or 15 (or even 21) gears on a bike is to give a smooth range of gear ratios from low to high, but if you worked out the full range you'd find that, if you wanted to go through all of them, you'd end up having to shift front and rear sprockets repeatedly which is why nobody actually uses all 12/ 15/ 21 gear speeds in real life.

          If anyone's interested, they can work out the ratios by simply dividing the number of teeth on each front sprocket by the number of teeth on the rear sprockets. If you multiply those numbers by pi times the diameter of the rear wheel you'll find out how far the bike will move in each gear for a single revolution of the pedals.

    5. WraithCadmus

      Re: Track Stand? Bah.

      Yes, you're commuting on a road you have to share. Be prepared to stop, and have a suitable vehicle. Unless you live in a dead flat area get something with fucking gears too, I don't want to be stuck behind you huffing and puffing up a 2% incline for the sake of your fashion.

      In this instance the Google car has done precisely what it should have done, seen someone acting weird and going "Erm, wtf are you doing?" and not just ploughing on.

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