Katja Leyendecker, Northumbria University
Invading automobility – contesting urban cycle space from above and below
Cities are constantly changing and reinventing themselves, through policy, planning and engineering, undergoing transitions, envisaging new fortunes and futures. Yet transport spaces, city roads and streets, have stayed devoted to the private car, even when urban space comes at a premium. Reimaging city life with ‘less car’ in it, remains a continual challenge. What is needed to discontinue traditional transport thinking and disrupt the car-oriented trend of automobility(1)? Cycling, as such, is a disruptor of the system of automobility. As an opposing force, velomobility(2) claims its own space, rules and demands its own logic. My PhD research takes place in two cities, one with high cycling levels (Bremen, Germany), and the other with low levels of cycling (NewcastleGateshead, UK). The purpose of the research is to bring together both top-down decision-making and bottom-up street use and perception. It will examine people’s observations about their natural street environment as well as confront them with unfamiliar environments. The exploration will be achieved by combining mobile space visualisation and interview techniques. The car entered the urban arena about a century ago – only very recently in evolutionary terms. Just how deep does automobility run in homo urbanus? The presentation brings together theories on urban space, and raises methodological questions of conducting an effective investigation into the disruption of automobility.
Keywords: Space perception, city cycling, urban transition, transport policy
- Urry, J. (2004). The ‘System’ of Automobility. Theory, Culture & Society, 21(4-5), 25-39. doi: 10.1177/0263276404046059
- Koglin, T. (2014). Vélomobility and the politics of transport planning. GeoJournal, 80, 569-586. doi: 10.1007/s10708-014-9565-7
Submitted to RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum Mid-term Conference 2016 (and accepted)