The comfort of video surveillance and the internalisation of pedestrian submissiveness to vehicles

Part 2

The proximity of the main arterial roads leads to discourses about pedestrian safety. In our discussion with a young man living in the Civic Centre area, we find out that not only does he notice the presence of the video surveillance cameras in the junctions, but he also considers them a reassuring element for his own safety when crossing.

In a city where car supremacy over pedestrians is self-evident, the pedestrian internalises the necessity of surveillance technologies and interprets their role as being primarily aimed at verifying whether the pedestrians observe the traffic lights when crossing and, secondarily, the road traffic.

Based on discussions with other inhabitants of this area, we noted that in their opinion, the installation of a higher number of surveillance cameras is the best solution to regulate road traffic in the neighbourhood. The times are numerous when the pedestrians waiting to cross the street are heard saying when vehicles observing the rules stop at pedestrian crossings “Let’s cross quickly, they are letting us cross!”. And they cross quickly showing the internalisation of a relationship of obedience. A possible explanation might be the fact that the public discourse and space systematisation works have predominantly focused on the drivers’ rights and road facilities to the detriment of pedestrians.

Thus, practices and interpretations that legitimate and reproduce the pedestrians’ submissiveness to vehicles have emerged. Within this context, the presence of surveillance technologies is internalised, the body relates to them as to something natural, self-evident, hence contesting or questioning their presence is excluded.