In this blog I have talked incessantly about campaigning positions and angles, political conceptualisations and the power of the built environment in human decision making. In my last post, I was attempting to theorise the importance of acknowledging our differences (and the curiosity, time and effort that is needed to do so). I think this is important as it gives us a tool to build and participate in engaging/ed communities. I often have felt “rejected but eager to understand”, and this is my starting point.
I was a tiny bit horrified because I may have been grossly unclear in my last post. Once people see differences I did not mean to suggest that it was on the other person to start making allowances and adjustments for the differential/s. I would not request, or recommend, special treatment. I would be glad however if I would be met as a person, another human being. Different but equal. For example, as a cyclist I am often met with aggressive incredulity (although there are tricks you can employ, of course). And I must reiterate I firmly believe it is a small minority of motoring die-hards who are, even after prompting, incapable of curiosity or basic empathy, here and here. If cycle folks really do want to burst out of their bike bubble (here and here), we have to (learnt to) speak for the silent majority, inclusively, and bury the idolising sectarian identity politics. Such proud folks, such gloomy folks. I believe most cycle campaigners go through these stages of problem conceptualisation and personal growth. Coming out the other end, eureka – it’s the infrastructure stupid!
Naturally transport authorities have to step up to the plate. Local democracy must be resurrected. And that requires street smart local politicians. Politicians with a vision (and not like here and here). Officers need clear steer. And secondly, officers need an instruction to purposefully include civic society in their decision making process (here and here). It was my local council’s contradictions that got me into campaigning in the first place (here and here). Oh yes, how funny, it is my local authority’s emancipation that can get me out of it again. Activism is hard, and difficult, and all too often unrewarding (here and here and here). A circle closes: without political resolve and clever leadership we are going nowhere fast.
The whole operation is gendered too. Ultimately, cycleways are a women’s thing. Let’s be careful with data, and look to go beyond the commute. Campaigners can borrow from feminist theory. Transport panels have no excuse to be man-heavy (not like here). On my travels, I have come across some extremist vehicular cyclists and found them wanting in their ideology and psychology (here and here). Whilst acknowledging, grumblingly, that sexism is widespread. It’s worth asking Which side are you on? And we may like to observe our language.
So with all of that safely out of the way, let me get back to my regular stomping ground. The built environment and its influence and power it holds over us (campaigners, politicians, officials, professionals… all).
Urban design concerns all of us, campaigners, politicians, executive decision makers and designers. I am now panning out from the individual to the bigger picture. First of all let me acknowledge, that I get it – it is rather scary to be controlled by an external force. But this also is a mutually reinforcing motion too. We create the public spaces that shape the society we live in.
From egocentric to ecocentric.
Here is the entire crux. We are proud people. We believe we are in control of the whole operation. We crave control. We have forgotten to feel part of a bigger system (society and environment). We have forgotten how to debate in public forums. We have lost values and direction on our way to freedom. These ethnographic findings of mine go hand in hand with matters prominently discussed in political philosophy and social theories of change and modernity. Through my PhD investigation I have come across new pastures. These are greener than the other side but these are also throwing up terrifyingly existential questions. These are burning questions. If we do not address these questions and concerns about the deteriorating democratic system and link it to the disintegration that is happening in society, we will not be able to tackle the real threats to the planet: climate chaos.
Talking about transport – as this blog attempted to do in the first instance – the problem of officially sponsored road violence is overdue to be addressed. If politicians, in particular, would pan out to see the scale of the problem (personal, societal, environmental, economic) and take the lead on the solutions (change the system), many transport issues (including climate-changing emissions) could be eradicated. The alternative frankly is not worth staying up for.
Links in this post in chronological order
- 10-Dec-2015 Activation – beyond identity towards an inclusive cycling future https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/activation-beyond-identity-towards-an-inclusive-cycling-future/
- 09-Mar-2016 Who are these people hating cycleways? https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2016/03/09/who-are-these-people-hating-cycleways/
- 08-Jul-2016 Let’s design for women too – beyond the commute https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/lets-design-for-women-too-beyond-the-commute/
- 23-Jul-2016 Learning to give long answers https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2016/07/23/learning-to-give-long-answers/
- 16-Oct-2016 Feminism and activism https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2016/10/16/2081/
- 06-Dec-2016 Canny distribution and mutual support https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2016/12/06/canny-distribution-and-mutual-support/
- 09-Dec-2016 Power(less) participation https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/powerless-participation/
- 08-Jan-2017 Pricking bike bubbles https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/pricking-bike-bubbles/
- 13-Jan-2017 Pricking bike bubbles II https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/pricking-bike-bubbles-ii/
- 19-Jan-2017 Put your energy where it matters most https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/01/19/put-your-energy-where-it-matters-most/
- 10-Feb-2017 A quick and dirty comparison of local politics https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/a-quick-and-dirty-comparison-of-local-politics/
- 03-Mar-2017 Cycleways are a women’s thing https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/03/03/cycleways-are-a-womens-thing/
- 20-Mar-2017 Frustrated by anti-cyclist comments? https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/frustrated-by-anti-cyclist-comments/
- 30-Mar-2017 Campaigning and ideologies https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/campaigning-and-ideologies/
- 07-Apr-2017 My local politics is deadly liberalised https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/my-local-politics-is-deadly-liberalised/
- 19-Apr-2017 Numerical discrimination at Cycle City https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/numerical-discrimination-at-cycle-city/
- 28-Apr-2017 Your concept of activism https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/your-concept-of-activism/
- 04-May-2017 Working with the beast https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/working-with-the-beast/
- 19-Jun-2017 The radical environment is scary! https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/the-radical-environment-is-scary/
- 14-Jul-2017 Which side are you on? https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/07/14/which-side-are-you-on/
- 03-Aug-2017 What on earth is strength? https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/what-on-earth-is-strength/
- 08-Aug-2017 What made me angry https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/what-made-me-angry/
- 01-Sep-2017 Let’s talk about sex(ism) maybe https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/lets-talk-about-sexism-maybe/
- 25-Oct-2017 Fear of needles – a phobic narrative https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/10/25/fear-of-needles-a-phobic-narrative/
- 12-Nov-2017 C-UK identity politics https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/11/12/c-uk-identity-politics/
- 17-Nov-2017 Manels no more https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/11/17/manels-no-more/
- 01-Dec-2017 Melucci’s adversary https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/meluccis-adversary/
- 11-Dec-2017 One thing I realised https://katsdekker.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/one-thing-i-realised/