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The following text (italicized) is adapted from a Twitter thread:


there was an older woman in the grocery store today with a helmet which had a go pro (a camera) attached to the top. it made me uncomfortable. I asked her if it was recording and she replied “oh it wipes and records over”, as though that made it ok?

By way of explanation, she said that she’s almost been knocked over twice while riding her bike, so she went out and got one of these so that she has a record if/when it next happens. I understand that. and get why she feels better with her helmet cam.

her helmet cam, while a logical approach to her current problems, doesn’t solve the larger issues of the tensions between bicycles and cars and pedestrians and skateboards and all the newfangled motorized vehicles, as we all jostle for space in our cities.

I mean if you asked me, I’d say remove all cars from cities, build with differently abled and disabled people as the main focus, pedestrians as the second focus, then have bikes and other non-car, human powered vehicles; and everything else is hugely accessible public transport.

(I mean if you asked me I’d probably say remove all cars from everywhere lol)


We need to move away from believing that video surveillance is the solution to our problems.

In this example, the woman is trying to solve the problem of traffic and cars by recording her encounters with cars. This might help her if or when she does have an encounter with a car, but it doesn’t address the problem of congestion, cars, and a tendency to build spaces that support car culture. Cities are increasingly turning to “smart city” solutions to tackle traffic, which are usually about capturing traffic data to control traffic flow. The “smart” solution to traffic is to move away from building for cars and towards building for pedestrian, bicycle (and other non-car modes of transport), and public transport.

Ultimately, cities are social, and most of the problems that cities face are social. Solutions for social problems should come from the ground up, through deep and long engagement with communities rather than from top-down surveillance systems.