‘On the outside’: Constructing cycling citizenship by Rachel Aldred

I came upon this recent paper about “Constructing a view of citizenship” that is changed by active engagement in cycling as a social activity and as a means of transport, in my usual review of all things cycling this lunchtime.


The paper uses in-depth interview data from Cambridge, England, to discuss the concept of the ‘cycling citizen’, exploring how, within heavily-motorised countries, the practice of cycling might affect perceptions of the self in relation to natural and social environments. Participants portrayed cycling as a practice traversing independence and interdependence, its mix of benefits for the individual and the collective making it an appropriate response to contemporary social problems. In this paper I describe how this can be interpreted as based on a specific notion of cycling citizenship rooted in the embodied practice of cycling in Cambridge (a relatively high cycling enclave within the low-cycling UK). This notion of cycling citizenship does not dictate political persuasion, but carries a distinctive perspective on the proper relation of the individual to their environment, privileging views ‘from outside’ the motor-car.

There’s an interseting section that muses on the decline of street life and citizen engagement and its relationship with the increasing motorisation of public spaces – perception of road danger – risk of injury etc.that caught my attention. See the link below for a free download….It’s cogent, relatively concise, well written and has multitudinous cross references to there related papers.


Quite thought provoking, but it also highlights the lack of much research into the impact of motorised transportation in changing  peoples perceptions of public life and space , private life and space,  and general citizenship.

Gets the grey cells going ….


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