Abstracts – Cycling & Society / ECF Scientists for Cycling

Method in the madness – autoethnography against automobility

The Advocacy and Academia exchange day in Newcastle, UK, in 2015, resolved that story telling is a vital tool to advancing the cause of urban mass cycling. In my presentation I ask: “How well is academia equipped to create narratives that matter?” I will report about the methods I employed in my PhD, ranging from traditional methods of interviews to the use of autoethnographic methods of video diaries and blogging. My PhD is concerned with capturing the story of women activists in Newcastle, UK, and Bremen, Germany. Using inventive methods may be an answer to the mobilisation of new ideas about cycling, if we accept the focus of urban design as a contested political practice.

UK cycling politics – is there such a thing as a cycling conservative?

For cycling to be democratised, dedicated infrastructure is needed on main roads (Pooley et al., 2013; Pucher & Buehler, 2012). Spatial redistribution however is contested and political. In my presentation I will compare possible political visions for cycling. What do the main political orientations – conservative, liberal and progressive – stand for and what would their fundamental conceptions of cycling look like? With increasingly polarised politics and public life, the cycling voice is barely gaining traction as an alternative solution to automobility in UK cities. I will assess the possibilities of politicising cycling so that it may be heard better by political parties. Drawing on psycho-political US literature by Lilla (2017), Lakoff (2016), Greene (2014), and Haidt (2013) I am asking: “If political tribes are residing in our minds nurturing different worldviews, what chances are there for urban mass cycling in the UK?”


  1. Greene, J. (2014). Moral tribes. London, UK: Atlantic Books.
  2. Haidt, J. (2013). The righteous mind – why good people are divided by politics and religion. London, UK: Penguin Books.
  3. Lakoff, G. (2016). Moral politics – how liberals and conservatives think. Chicago, IL, USA: University of Chicago Press.
  4. Lilla, M. (2017). The once and future liberal – after identity politics. New York, N.Y, USA: HarperCollins Publishers.
  5. Pooley, C. G., Jones, T., Tight, M., Horton, D., Scheldeman, G., Mullen, C., … Strano, E. (2013). Promoting Walking and Cycling : New Perspectives on Sustainable Travel. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.
  6. Pucher, J. R., & Buehler, R. (2012). City cycling. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.

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