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✊🏙 ‘Smart City of Surveillance’ 👁 Scooter debate continues 🛴 Benefits of walkable cities 🚶‍♀️ & much more!

Hey urbanists! Plenty of great topics this week: the debate over Sidewalk Labs’ smart-city project in
October 28 · Issue #57 · View online
Radical Urbanist
Hey urbanists!
Plenty of great topics this week: the debate over Sidewalk Labs’ smart-city project in Toronto rages after another high-profile resignation, more questions on the place of scooters in urban mobility, and the many benefits of walkable cities.
Have a great Sunday!

Google’s ‘Smart City of Surveillance‘
“I imagined us creating a Smart City of Privacy, as opposed to a Smart City of Surveillance.”
These words come from the resignation letter of privacy expert Ann Cavoukian, who was hired last year by Sidewalk Labs to give legitimacy to its smart-city project in Toronto. However, a year into the project, the company hasn’t committed to the privacy measures Cavoukian laid out as necessary, forcing her to resign.
This comes just weeks after another high profile resignation hit the project when Saadia Muzaffar, co-founder of Tech Reset Canada, left Waterfront Toronto’s Digital Strategy Advisory Panel over the long list of problems that have emerged with the project.
In response to Cavoukian’s resignation, Jacob Siegel wrote a piece for Tablet calling her judgement into question, stating it’s “rather astounding if we’re being honest—and charitable—to imagine a privacy expert believing that Google had ever planned to build anything other than a smart city of surveillance.”
“In the end,” he concluded, “you can have your privacy or your smart city but you can’t have both.”
Are scooters good or bad?
A little over a year since their launch, the debate over whether scooters are a positive or negative addition to urban streets and sidewalks continues to rage.
On Monday, Oakland held a town hall meeting on the services, where their use by teens, the lack of helmet use, and their use on sidewalks all became issues. The companies had excuses, but I want to challenge the questions themselves. Why shouldn’t teens be able to use them? Why should helmets be required? In countries with the highest rates of bike use, people hardly ever wear helmets. And they wouldn’t be on sidewalks if cities started building more bike lanes — or whatever we want to call them now.
A writer for Quartz wrote about an accident he had on a scooter, but acknowledged the company (Skip) was very helpful when he reported it. But Bird, Lime, and others will soon be rolling out better scooters designed to address issues with the first batch. Lime will even be opening physical stores to rent and charge scooters and provide education on their use.
How scooters fit into the overall transport mix is still being debated, but it seems likely they’re here to stay. There are even new scooter-bike hybrids coming out as companies continue to try different forms to see what will best suit what riders want.
Walkable cities are good for everyone
Walkable cities have a lot of benefits. Walkability makes life easier for everyone, especially seniors and low-income people, and it doesn’t have to be accompanied by gentrification if done properly. Not to mention, it’s also really good for the economy.
In the past, cities were divided into zones, but as the desire for more walkable communities grows, residences, employment, and shopping are being combined into single developments. In Portland, businesses are even calling for cars to be kicked off the “transit mall” while supporting more bike infrastructure.
Walkability is slowly gaining steam in North American cities, but it’s even more important in European capitals. London is banning cars from some streets, reducing speed limits, expanding its bike network, and more; while Pariscar ban along the Seine river was just upheld by the courts after being challenge by automotive groups.
Other great reads
GREAT: Even with 100% EVs and 75% renewable energy by 2050, California would still need a 15% reduction in vehicle miles of travel (VMT) beyond current plans to hit its climate goals
🚌 A group of transit-loving millennials are having a major (positive) impact on Boston’s transit system
🇫🇮 Is Helsinki’s “mobility as a service” app the future of urban mobility?
🔍 Elon Musk survived his SEC punishment, but now the FBI is investigating his claims about Model 3 production numbers
🇨🇦 Vancouver’s new mayor promised 2,500 affordable units per year for ten years. Will he be able to make it happen?
💰 Ridiculous: Two thirds of NYC affordable homes were bought by investors in 2017. The private housing market is broken.
😈 Lyft isn’t the progressive alternative to Uber. It just donated $100,000 to fight SF’s tax to house the homeless.
🇪🇸 Barcelona Airbnb host makes €37,000 ($42,000) from 204 apartments in high season. There’s nothing “shared” about Airbnb.
☠️ New study claims Uber and Lyft are increasing traffic deaths
🇳🇱 The design for new Dutch intercity trains is stunning
🇳🇿 Fascinating history of public transit in Auckland and the fight for light rail
Debate on Sidewalk Toronto, including Ann Cavoukian, Saadia Muzaffar, and Bianca Wylie
✊️❤️ Thanks for reading. You can follow me on TwitterMedium, or Instagram for even more!
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