Cycling & Society presentation

The below slides are due to be presented on Tuesday 15 September 2015 as part of this year’s Cycling & Society symposium in Manchester:

As well as giving a glimpse into my PhD project, I will try to talk about these points:

  • Socialisation. Recently a spotlight has been put on women and cycling in the UK. But what we really mean, I think, is understanding society’s gendered lifestyles, its needs and pressures.
  • Context. Cycling research should try to ‘pin down’ a researched location by understanding  its wider cycling and transport problematics. If not done sensitively, a research angle could end up ignoring structural shortfalls of a place (like lack of enabling infrastructure and sensibly linked and scaled networks – a vital, yet missing, aspect in low-cycling countries).
  • Powerwebs. Research should be tuned into the politics of place. Without ‘seeing power’, it will be so much harder to pinpoint and apportion responsibility and action (for policy impact).

All fairly simple stuff, you may now rightly say. But it’s the stuff I have been grappling with over the last few weeks. The symposium provides a good opportunity to wrap this up and move onwards.

See you there!

The local Freeview 8 channel filmed on the Sunday. Thanks, ThatsManchester


Original abstract

Public perceptions of cycle space – method and approach
Katja Leyendecker, PhD research student (
Principal Supervisor: Dr Seraphim Alvanides)

Useable inclusive urban cycle networks have not been built in the UK. The media, public, practitioners, advocates, academia, national and local politics, all have and had a role to play – some active, some passive. Acutely today, and for several decades in the past, UK cities have found themselves in a dilemma: more and more space for cars and driving, some for walking, and very little for cycling – yet categorical imperatives, environmental, social and economic, mean we have to shift away from locking car use and dependence into our transport systems. There is recent revival talk of a ‘Cycling Revolution’ by the current Prime Minister David Cameron in response to national campaigns, but little talk about where the investment in cycling infrastructure, and ultimately mode-shifting transport transitions, were to come from.

The presentation briefly summarises the historical and current UK contexts for cycling infrastructure, before it takes a look at the public onlooker in the transport and cycling debate. The relatively passive partaker in public spaces is the voter who is often cited by politicians as the source and target for their decision taking. But how much does a member of the public understand and read public space? How much power, responsibility and ‘agency’ has or feels the ‘person in the street’ when it comes to envisaging change? Does it vary between countries?

My research investigates locations in Newcastle, UK, and Bremen, Germany, and their participants’ public space perception. Starting in February 2015, it is in the early stages. At this point, September 2015, we hope to be able to discuss the interview technique chosen to get under the skin of the individual ‘seeing’ spatial determinants.



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