“Critical Vélomobilities”, les approches critiques du vélo au programme du congrès 2019 de l’AAG

L’American Associaton of Geographers (AAG) est la plus importante des sociétés savantes consacrée à la géographie. Ses publications, Annals of the Association of American Geographers et The Professional Geographer, sont des références. Organisé chaque année dans une ville étasunienne différente, l’AAG annual meeting rassemble entre 7000 et 8000 participant·es. Environ 4000 articles et posters scientifiques y sont présentés, sur des thèmes des plus variés. Il est difficile de s’y retrouver dans un catalogue pléthorique de sessions et de communications.

Pour l’édition 2019 à Washington, Léa Ravensbergen (Université de Toronto) et Stephanie Sersli (Simon Fraser University, Burnaby) organisent une double session intitulée “Critical Vélomobilities 1 : Gender, Race, Age, and Class” et “Critical Vélomobilities 2: Space, Landscapes, and Policies” qui résonne avec les problématiques de CyclOPs et à laquelle l’auteur de ces lignes participera. Un bel aperçu des approches géogaphiques critiques du vélo.

Argumentaire

Cycling is a practice that varies historically, geographically, and culturally. Though studied in different academic disciplines including geography, planning, public policy, and engineering, much current cycling research focuses on infrastructure provision, how to increase ridership, and road safety. Cycling, however, cannot be understood in isolation from society. It is implicated in health, social equity, urban mobility, access to the city and urban environmental outcomes. It is also associated with diverse context-specific meanings, performances, and practices. The goal of this session to explore critical geographies of cycling, and to engage researchers and practitioners who situate cycling within an equity-oriented critical framework.

Interventions

Critical Vélomobilities 1: Gender, Race, Age, and Class

Gender, Class, and Age Formation While Cycling: Embodied Performativity and Materiality on Two Wheels

Léa Ravensbergen, University of Toronto

This paper frames the embodied experience of bicycling with theories of performativity and materiality. In doing so, it sheds light on power relations underlining of identity-based differences in cycling behaviours. Drawing from interviews completed with newcomers to Toronto enrolled in a bicycle mentorship program, this paper highlights how context-specific social norms exist around who can cycle appropriately. These norms act as regulatory frameworks for identity performativity. Though these norms can be resisted, they work to make gendered, classed, and age-based differences in cycling behaviours appear innate. Cycling can also be an experience of ‘intense embodiment’ in that it can bring the absent body back into consciousness. This experience is dynamic and elicits contradicting emotions. Furthermore, cycling is not only found to increase people’s awareness of their materiality, but also their fluid boundaries thereby challenging the notion of ‘secure’ bodily boundaries. These material processes can be gendered or classed, and can influence access to mobility and public space. By identifying these identity formation processes as they relate to cycling, this paper challenges dualisms that make gendered, classed, and aged-based differences in cycling behaviour appear innate.

“Owning the space that I’m in”: how diverse women do bicycling

Stephanie Sersli, Simon Fraser University, Meghan Winters, Simon Fraser University

This paper explores how diverse women “do bicycling”. We draw from 30 interviews with women in Metro Vancouver, Canada to examine the social, spatial, and material contexts of women inhabiting diverse spatial and social locations. We use a social practice approach to unpack how: 1) the adoption and maintenance of bicycling is enmeshed and held in place by other features of everyday life; 2) different bicycling practices are heavily dependent on the organization of other linked practices; and how 3) bicycling practices are inscribed on/through the body via social location, meaning-making, and “know-how”. An explicit embodiment lens reveals how power is naturalized, normalized, and identified in the lives of participants.We found adoption of bicycling into everyday life was shaped by parental status, cultural background, and residential location. The combination of caregiving and work responsibilities at different life stages affected where and with whom women bicycled. Most participants described using designated bicycle routes to make journeys, an important equity consideration as Vancouver’s densest bicycle network is concentrated downtown. Busier bicycle routes facilitated more interaction with other cyclists, often pleasant but sometimes stressful. Some women took up bicycling upon moving to Vancouver while others found it difficult to maintain previous bicycling practices. Our findings suggest that the widespread adoption of everyday urban bicycling will entail interventions that not only improve physical infrastructure, but interventions that also address other social processes and practices.

Exploring socio-spatial inequalities in bike-sharing systems: case studies from Brazil and Spain

Àngel Cebollada, , Esther Anaya-Boig, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom, Marc Castelló, Department of Geography. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Bike sharing schemes have been used to promote cycling and contribute with environmental, health, economy and social benefits. But it is not clear if these schemes are accessible to all population sub-groups in terms of income, gender, age and education. Furthermore, inequalities are not evaluated in these systems.Our research is framed in a new conceptual framework of the dimensions of cycling inequalities. Particularly, it develops a case study and a tool (an index) for the spatial dimension of bike-sharing inequalities.In this study, the socio-spatial distribution of bicycle-sharing schemes has been evaluated in order to explore potential inequalities. Firstly, catchment areas were defined. The coverage of the schemes and the access of the residents to bike sharing stations and cycling infrastructure were compared with the overall city population. Secondly, an index for spatial equity was created by aggregating the available indicators in the census that could be related to bike-sharing equity aspects: higher education proportion, property value, proportion of SUVs and non-commercial vehicle ownership. The index was produced at the level of census units and was compared with sub-district income information and a positive correlation was found. Results show that the spatial distribution of the bike sharing scheme and of cycling infrastructure is fairly equitable in Barcelona. Compared to previous studies that show remarkable inequalities in bike sharing systems in Brazilian cities, the index helps to identify which could be the acceptable threshold to evaluate cycling infrastructures socio-spatial inequalities.

Gendered and racialized behavior in bicycle planning organizations

Rebecca Van Stokkum, University of California – Davis, Sarah McCullough, UC Davis, Feminist Research Institute

Although bicycle advocates tend toward progressive and socially equitable politics, bicycle infrastructure projects are often associated with high status or gentrifying neighborhoods with increased racial diversity. Although there has been a rise in research on gender and bicycling over the past decade, race is almost unstudied in the bicycle literature. In particular, at the level of organizations little transportation research exists on race and gender identity in relation to planning and advocacy for bicycle infrastructure. This project examines the ways identity mediates the distribution of high use bicycle infrastructure in high volume real estate markets in California through local planning and advocacy organizations. Results reveal underlying social norms affecting bicycle infrastructure policy based on status. The racialized and gendered organizing behavior of bicycle advocates and planners create scale for projects and organizations by channeling effort based on racialized and gendered behaviors and norms, e.g. feminized group-oriented behaviors or racialized cultural/religious markers. Results speak to unequal distribution of infrastructure projects based on structuring effects related to these underlying, often socially hidden behavior patterns.

Critical Vélomobilities 2: Space, Landscapes, and Policies

Reimagining the Ideal Landscape of the Cyclist

Dane Atkins, Texas State University

The term ‘cycling’ refers to a diverse range of activities that are performed in equally diverse landscapes. Although there are many discussions about what constitutes the ideal cycle path, such normative approaches risk overlooking the diversity of cyclists and their desires. This consideration suggests we conduct a critical reexamination of the contemporary, often vernacular, and even contestable landscapes of the cyclist. This reexamination can be achieved, in part, through an intensive exploration of photography that provides an empirical frame for viewing the various landscapes encountered by the cyclist. What is discovered through this photographic content analysis are new challenges for defining the ideal cycling space and a new appreciation for the cultural diversity within the cycling community. Acknowledging these new and potentially conflicting perspectives might engender more public participation in the planning and development of new cycling infrastructure, with an optimistic view that the net benefits extend well beyond the immediate cycling community.

A cycle route to enhance the heritage and landscape of a territory: for which users and to what effect? The case of the Rhône River

Matthieu Adam, UMR EVS, CNRS, Université de Lyon, ENS de Lyon, Anne-Laure Collard, UMR G-EAU, IRSTEA Montpellier , Marylise Cottet, UMR EVS, CNRS, Université de Lyon, ENS de Lyon , Sylvie Morardet, UMR G-EAU, IRSTEA Montpellier , Anne Rivière-Honegger, UMR EVS, CNRS, Université de Lyon, ENS de Lyon , Lise Vaudor, UMR EVS, CNRS, Université de Lyon, ENS de Lyon

Local authorities see the growing popularity of cycling as an opportunity to develop tourism. Cycling routes that cross different regions or countries, often along rivers, are multiplying: The Green Route in Canada, The North Sea Cycle Route from Scotland to Norway, the Danube Cycle, etc. The ViaRhôna rides along the Rhône River for 815 kilometers, from Lake Geneva (Switzerland) to the Mediterranean Sea (France). During the summer of 2017, we conducted interviews (16) and a quantitative survey (550 questionnaires) among ViaRhôna’s users. We focused on the identification of these users and how the cycle route changes their familiarity with the heritage and landscapes of the river. Our survey confirms that, while these bike paths are primarily built for tourists, local people are using them for leisure, commuting, or sports. The users are mostly male (57%) and relatively elderly (median age: 56 years old). They are retirees (35%) or upscale professionals: 43% of the working persons are executives and 32% have intermediate occupations. Our analysis also shows that the existence of the ViaRhôna contributes to the increased use of the banks of the Rhône River and enhances their value in the eyes of the various people who frequent them. The representations of the inhabitants and tourists on the riparian territories seem to evolve. The ViaRhôna favors the discovery of a natural heritage or greater familiarity with it. But the fact that the users are mainly well-to-do and relatively elderly men raises a question: who really benefits from these great amenities?

Claim the lane! Cycling Space, Safety, and the Right to the City

Rebecca Mayers, University of British Columbia, Troy Glover, University of Waterloo

The need for dedicated infrastructure for city cycling continues to grow, yet investment remains politically contentious. While the safety of road users ought to drive cities to focus their attention on infrastructure, cities choose instead to focus on education and enforcement of the law. In doing so, however, they abstract and dehumanize roads as if roads are just spaces devoid of meaning. To address this issue, we utilize Lefebvre’s spatial triad—conceived, perceived, and lived space—as an analytical framework to expose the social production of “cycling space”. The perception of road space for cyclists and the conceived codes of conduct used to keep road users obeying the law, prompt a unique lived experience for city cyclists. Using qualitative methods, this study engaged with local cyclists to understand how their cycling experiences reflected the production of cycling space and the ways they claimed their “right to the city” to resist the perceived and conceived notions of space. The results focus on two themes: (1) un-abstracting cycling space, and (2) the appropriation of cycling space. This research offers insights that suggest the need to prioritize cycling infrastructure and to conduct further research on abstracted cycling space.

Frail Changes In Cycling Policies: (Un)shifting Meanings and Practices In Current Policy Making

Jean-Baptiste Fretigny, Université de Cergy-Pontoise, Caroline Bouloc, Université de Cergy-Pontoise

In various parts of the world, authorities emphasize the salience of cycling and show a political will to encourage it. Such discourses are however in striking contrast with the overall persistent (and renewed) dominance of automobilities regimes and the difficulty of alternative mobilities such as cycling to find their way. Major explanations identified for this paradox are the predominant sets of values and norms, the political and economic weight of car-related actors as well as the path dependency of societies and economies. Less attention has been paid to tensions involved in actual policy making as well as to the meanings and practices invested by heterogeneous policy makers in context-specific situations. Contributing to bridge the gap between social practice and transition theories, this paper focuses on current policy making regarding cycling through the example of France. Drawing on interviews with various actors engaged in cycling policies and on content analysis of institutional documents, both at national and local scales, it highlights and investigates the frailty of current changes. After contrasting them with existing policy objectives regarding health, air quality, mitigation of climate change and social equity, it shows the precarious alignment and adjustment of stakeholders’ positions at various scales both allowing and restricting these changes. It connects them with the contestation of enduring dichotomies undermining the legitimacy of cycling related to alleged ‘hard’ v. ‘soft’ ways of being on the move, questioning the ambiguous relationship with infrastructure assigned to cycling and the difficult recognition of its cultural and social dimensions.


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