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March 4, 2019

Why I Ride with Waymo: Roger & Sharon

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Editor’s Note: In this “Why I Ride with Waymo” post, we hear from Roger and Sharon on how Waymo One is a perfect match for their active lifestyles.

Tell us a bit about yourselves.

Sharon and I are natives of Ohio, long-time Arizona residents, and proud parents and grandparents. We are now enjoying our retirement. Sharon was a dental hygienist, and I was a college professor in agribusiness at Arizona State University.

While we didn’t have a detailed plan of how we would spend our retirement years, it didn’t take us long to figure out what we wanted to do. Running, we decided, would be the main focus of our retirement. For years we’ve been running races here in Tempe, as well as throughout Arizona and southern California. In retirement, we’ve traveled even farther to run races. In November 2018, for example, we went to Greece where I ran the Athens Marathon and Sharon ran the 5K. Sharon has completed more than thirty half-marathons and countless 5Ks and 10Ks. I’ve finished seventy-two marathons with a goal to finish one hundred by the end of 2021. Running isn’t the only thing in our lives, but it has become a bigger part than we could have imagined.

What was your first ride like? When did it start to feel like a normal part of your daily life?

I remember Waymo pulling up in front of our house for our first ride. We had that “here goes” feeling, as if we were about to do something for the first time in my life. Sharon and I looked at each other and got into the car. I remember we were quiet at first, for the first three or four minutes at least. Then we sat back, as we realized that even though this was a new experience, it was a good experience. The experience felt normal and very comfortable by our third or fourth ride.

What do you primarily use Waymo One for?

We use Waymo One to take stress-free rides to restaurants and some shopping, especially in the late afternoon when the streets are filled with commuter traffic. Other recent uses include the round-trip from dropping off our cars for oil changes or repairs.

What we consider the most unique use, though, is Waymo One’s help with our training runs. Running the same route over and over can get boring, so we decided to use Waymo One to help keep variety in the places we run. I’ve had Waymo One drop me off so I could run on the Western Canal and then pick me up wherever and whenever I’m ready. The advantage is that we can start and finish practically anywhere without the need to find a parking place.

Sharon and I also like to run and hike in South Mountain Park, especially at the Pima Canyon Trailhead. So many other people also like it that finding a parking place is difficult on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Waymo One solved the parking problem for us by dropping us off and picking us up. We could have used another ride-sharing service, but we’re accustomed to the safety we believe Waymo One provides.

What is something you like best about Waymo One?

What we like about Waymo One is the consistency and predictability of the ride. The Waymo One vehicle observes the speed limit, doesn’t try to beat red lights, comes to a full stop at stop signs, signals for lane changes, and maintains a safe distance from the car in front.

Before getting in a Waymo for the first time we expected the ride to be jerky and uneven or robot-like. The biggest surprise was that the self-driving technology provides an extremely smooth ride.

Waymo’s driver, like human drivers, has a bit of a personality. What have you noticed about the way our car drives or the personality our cars have?

We know what you mean about Waymo having a personality. To us, it’s a quiet and calm personality that allows riders to sit back and relax.

What do you think the potential is for self-driving cars, both in your lives and more broadly?

Self-driving cars could mean that we would need only one car instead of two, resulting in quite a savings for our household budget. We’ll continue using Waymo One for drop-offs and pick-ups for our running and hiking.

More broadly, we believe self-driving cars have the potential to assist people unable to drive themselves for medical treatment, to obtain services such as banking, or to take part in leisure-time activities. Things Waymo learns from developing self-driving cars might also help cities design safer streets and intersections, which would be beneficial to everyone.