CWT, St. Louis, MO. The powerful pro-bicycle lobby, Two Wheels Inspiring Tomorrow, announced a "no holds barred" push to block the retail introduction of the "Lane-Changer," a robotic automobile accessory that claims the ability to safely "reposition" slow moving cyclists and clear the road ahead for stalled motor vehicle traffic.
The inventor, Niles Percocet, believes, "the Lane-Changer will be a boon to both cyclists and motorists. Bicycles slowing automobile traffic to a crawl will be safely relocated to the side or shoulder of the road, thereby greatly reducing the chances of a bicycle/automobile collision or frustrated motorists acting out in anger against the slower moving cyclists."
Mr. Percocet's invention attaches to automobiles with clamps similar to those used on popular luggage and ski racks. A retractable robot arm, controlled with a dashboard mounted on/off switch, automatically detects the location and dimensions of the lane-blocking cyclist with state of the art laser sensors. Once the target cyclist has been acquired, the Lane-Changer signals the cyclist with a warning tone; if the cyclist refuses to yield, the robotic arm extends and locks on to the handlebar or seat stem, then repositions the cyclist either behind the automobile or to the shoulder or the road.
Crispin Hub, spokesman for Two Wheels Inspiring Tomorrow, told our CWT correspondent, "It is beyond me how the responsible government authorities allowed this abomination to even get off the drawing board. The use of this device in the manner described constitutes at least simple assault, and possibly more serious violations." The T.W.I.T. spokesman continued; "We cyclists are on the front lines of the green revolution - if motorists want to make it a war; so be it. If there are no bike lanes, we will utilize the streets the same as motor vehicles - we have a right to do so; if they are behind us, they can just slow down and wait."
When asked by CWT if, given the number of recent road rage incidents, it would be wise to pit less than two hundred pounds of bicycle and rider against two tons of accelerating automobile, Hub replied, "We are prepared; some of us may be martyrs for the cause, but those brave souls will have elevated the need for bike lanes from an afterthought to a priority. Regardless, this "Lane-Changer" is an affront to our share the road credo, and we will use all means at our disposal to prevent even one single device from being sold."
When apprised of T.W.I.T.'s concerns, Mr. Percocet replied, "I'm sorry Mr. Hub feels that way - I invented the Lane Changer to prevent just the type of confrontation he speaks of. The unit is equipped with an integrated video unit and a sealed 'black box' event recorder - the Lane Changer is a last resort tool to prevent injuries. Just as there will always be a few inconsiderate motorists, there will also be stubborn cyclists - the Lane Changer plucks the cyclist safely out of harms way and allows motor vehicle traffic to proceed unhindered, diffusing any unpleasant situation before it happens."
CWT legal analyst, Tickman Scribe, believes, "This one's definitely going to court - the first time a cyclist gets cyborged to the roadside by this contraption, all hell is going to break loose. The cyclist will file assault; the inventor may claim citizens arrest rights, if he can prove the cyclist was breaking the law. There are different permutations of cycling laws in every state - I can't predict what the 'Lane-Changer' will do for bike safety, but I guarantee it will slow the affected courts to a crawl."
CWT asked a random group of St. Louis citizens what they thought of the "Lane Changer" device. An avid cyclist responded, "There aren't words enough to describe how I feel - motorists with the right to pick me up like garbage? I promise you, any driver grabbing me with that thing is going to get a windshield full of purple spray paint before I hit the ground." A motorist frustrated by unyielding cyclists opined, " I've already ordered one - I'm so sick of these guys hogging the road, refusing to move over - I'm all for more bike lanes, but if there aren't any, move over. I wish it was a big flyswatter."