The Transformation of Urban Mobility Practices in Maastricht (1950–1980)

Coevolution of Cycling and Car Mobility

in Transfers
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This article reconstructs the historical transformation of mobility in the city of Maastricht in the period 1950–1980, from cycling as the most popular mode of traveling in the 1950s to car driving by the end of the 1970s. Based on an analysis of written sources and oral history interviews with Maastricht travelers and other practitioners who experienced this shift themselves, this article sheds light on this historical transformation, its key actors, and its main drivers. Combining insights from studies of social practice-based perspectives on mobility, historical sociotechnical transitions, and the model of urban obduracy, this study seeks to contribute to understanding why and how cities may transform toward being unsustainable places. Furthermore, it aims to show how social practice approaches can give more context-sensitive insights into processes of transformation and transition compared to established MLP-based transition approaches, by giving more attention to local meanings.

Contributor Notes

Marc Dijk is assistant professor and research coordinator at the Maastricht Sustainability Institute at Maastricht University. His main research interests are innovation and innovation policy, sustainability assessment, and societal transformations. He is also Honorable Research Associate at Oxford University (School of Geography and the Environment, Transport Studies Unit). Currently, he is working on action-research projects in Living Labs focused on learning, upscaling, and social exclusion (SummaLab, EmbedterLabs), and a project on circular business model innovation (Circular-X). Previously, he was coordinator of SmarterLabs (2016–2019), a JPI Urban Europe project. Email:

Anique Hommels is an associate professor in science, technology, and society studies. She works at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University. Her main areas of research include urban sociotechnical change, urban obduracy, standardization, and vulnerability in technological cultures. She is currently working on the history of emergency dispatch rooms in Dutch cities and the attempts at standardization and cross-border collaboration in the anticipation of crisis. With Marc Dijk and Joop de Kraker, she recently published “Anticipating Constraints on Upscaling from Urban Innovation Experiments” in Sustainability (2018) and a chapter, “How Resilience Discourses Shape Cities: The Case of Resilient Rotterdam,” in The Sociotechnical Constitution of Resilience, edited by S. Amir (Palgrave, 2018). Email:

Manuel Stoffers is assistant professor of history at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University. His research focuses on the history of collective ideas, meanings, and mentalities, and most recently includes the history of cycling cultures. He has published on cycling history in the Journal of Transport History, Mobility in History, Transfers, Cycle History, BMGN/The Low Countries Historical Review, and several edited volumes. In 2009, he launched an online international cycling history bibliography ( Email:


Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies


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