Aug 13, 2022Β·edited Aug 13, 2022Liked by James

We've been socialized into subservience by the two-tonne hydrocarbon missiles that are clearly the dominant lifeform in our cities. Twice daily I participate in an incredibly complex and agonizing group effort so that some chunk of shiny metal can creep through Marylebone at 9km/hr. On the street, I am encouraged to ignore the stream of unfathomable kinetic energy and momentum, the vector of which could be rotated 3 degrees and turn someone into a mass murderer.

Dropping the bit - the anger I have for cars and drivers is clearly a result of what you describe, a form of (probably unnecessary) intermodal conflict in a big transport game. It benefits me as a rational agent to push back against drivers such that I can alter the current equilibrium to my benefit.

Yet I have no strong allegiance to any mode of transport, so why does any conflict arise at all? As in - if think cars are so much better why don't I just switch? Herein lies the real problem, I suspect, the transport game is really a proxy for something like inequality.

On another note completely - my first job was for an ANPR company, during my time there I inproved the accuracy of their main OCR model by a few percentage points. I would like to think this has resulted in fractionally safer roads and a few million extra in fines.

Thanks for the thought provoking read!

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Yes, there's a huge element of path dependency - once the alternatives become unsafe you're forced to consider buying in to the very institutions and values that are causing the problems in the first place. Cars are a tragedy of the commons problem. Interesting to take a look at the numerous examples of European cities that have re-pedestrianised their centres to the initial opprobrium, followed by love, of their denizens.

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Putting cycle lanes on Euston Road is sheer madness.

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