Airborne selfies for bicyclists

In Monday 23 June’s New York Times, page B6, Nick Bilton opines, “Among the first mainstream uses of drones will be airborne selfies.”

Great idea, I say. I can just see how in the near future, the responsible bicyclist is accompanied by an airborne videographer, whose video evidence will be used as irrefutable proof that the bicyclist did something right in a future collision.

As I reread this above paragraph, I see that “responsible bicyclist” can be interpreted in two different ways. Either bicyclists in accidents will be blamed for not having airborne camera support, or bicyclists with a responsibility fetish (and plenty of extra spending money) will rush out to buy these kinds of aircraft.

I can definitely see the attraction of having an eye in the sky to look after me, but consider the upkeep and issues involved. I have to stop outside my house and land the thing, then carry it indoors each time. I have to store it when I’m not flying it around 50 meters over my head. I have to fuel it, or charge it, or whatever. (I am a person who gave up on GPS tracking when I realized that it took too long in the morning to turn on and find my location, which was difficult to do from indoors as I slurped down the remains of my oatmeal).

One great appeal of bicycling to me is the lack of preparation time necessary. I can store the bike at home hanging from the front wheel, where it takes up next to no room in my hallway, and simply usher it out in the morning, hop on, and roll along to the workplace. I contrast this of course with the option of owning and operating a motor vehicle, where you have to retrieve the car from the parking place, fasten seat belt, turn on engine, clear away junk and distracting objects, tune the radio or music player, and then get going. Having to program launch codes for a flying overwatcher at the start of every journey is a step too complicated for my tastes.

As a proud New Yorker, I do like my bicycle, but I am not anxious to have it drift into the corner of fetish object, either on the transportation-object fetish scale or on the recreation-object fetish scale. Introducing a drone companion would be one step too far in this direction, no matter how responsible it would make me seem to others. As a parent, I realize that all possessions are ephemeral and we just use them until they are too beaten up to keep using. Best to remain focused on wheels, pedals, saddle and chain.

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