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Tension between Fast and Slow Mobilities

Examining the Infrastructuring Processes in Brussels (1950–2019) through the Lens of Social Imaginaries

Claire Pelgrims

This article analyzes the dialectic of fast and slow mobilities as a continuous tension, since the mid-twentieth century, characterized by three evolutions of the functional, phenomenological, and social dimensions of mobility infrastructure and practices in Brussels, Belgium. It is based on the content analysis of diverse “embodiments” of social imaginaries: mobility infrastructures, narratives and sensory-motor behaviors, and images, movies, and photographs. It casts light on the great triple evolution of (1) the scale of the designed city; (2) the limits between spaces devoted to speed, slowness, and overlaps; and (3) the promoted aesthetics in terms of atmospheres and urban experience. These developments strongly relate to the changing meaning of slow and fast mobilities and to a broader change in the societal relationship to space and time.

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Whose Business Is Road Safety?

From a Fragmented to an Integrated Approach in France and Europe (1972–1998)

Alice Milor

Most research into road safety in Europe has focused chiefly on public action, without closely examining the role of car manufacturers or their coordination with public initiatives. This article explores how manufacturers transitioned from a fragmented conception of road safety in the 1970s—with vehicles being the responsibility of manufacturers, and prevention and roads that of institutions—to an increasingly integrated approach in the twenty-first century. The study uses industry archives to present manufacturer strategies from 1972 onward, which at first exclusively focused on vehicle safety standards. After 1986, the European Year of Road Safety, manufacturers’ official discourse increasingly stressed user education, as opposed to technical improvements to the product. Th is article will use the French case, as well as a more European approach to the automobile lobby in Brussels, to chart the gradual emergence of an integrated approach to safety combining the vehicle, infrastructure, and user behavior.

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Algorithmic Art: Shuffling Space and Time

Art-Science Dialogues and a Techno-Saga

Linda Chiu-han Lai

Why are art-science dialogues important, and how should they take place? How do our everyday culture and institutional constructs define and delimit such possibilities? Why do contemporary art lovers still presume they are immune to and from scientific knowledge? How should a visitor of a media art event make sense of the machine work? Algorithmic Art: Shuffling Space & Time (AA) directed these questions to technical experts, artists, art lovers, and the public through a series of themed discussions and a six-hundred-square-meter indoor playground of machines and computational installations. AA also sought to key in on the question of survival. What mark has the struggling existence of the twenty-year-old School of Creative Media at the City University of Hong Kong left to Hong Kong’s (media) art history? The school remains the only pedagogic research center in Hong Kong where conceptual issues of new media art creation and how to “live” in an age of big data are interrogated through scholarship and practice.

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Koos Fransen, Sean Peacock, Peter Wood, and Jie Zhang

Karel Martens, Transport Justice: Designing Fair Transportation Systems (New York: Routledge, 2017), 240 pp., 27 illustrations, $47.45

Nancy Cook and David Butz, eds., Mobilities, Mobility Justice and Social Justice (London: Routledge, 2019), 270 pp., 15 black-and-white illustrations, £115

Cosmin Popan, Bicycle Utopias: Imagining fast and slow bicycle futures (London: Routledge, 2019), 201 pp., £92.

Carlos López Galviz, Cities, Railways, Modernities: London, Paris, and the Nineteenth Century (New York: Routledge, 2019), 294 pp., 37 illus., £92

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This issue of Transfers features five individual essays critically engaging with the promises promoted alongside new methods and purposes of mobility. Two essays, Martin Emanuel’s “From Victim to Villain: Cycling, Traffic Policy, and Spatial Conflicts in Stockholm, circa 1980” and Andrew V. Clark and colleagues’ “The Rise and Fall of the Segway: Lessons for the Social Adoption of Future Transportation,” circle around a core theme of Transfers with their fresh look at transportation, its vehicles, and its methods; two others, Noah Goodall’s “More Than Trolleys: Plausible, Ethically Ambiguous Scenarios Likely to Be Encountered by Automated Vehicles” and Gal Hertz’s “From Epistemology of Suspicion to Racial Profiling: Hans Gross, Mobility and Crime around 1900,” look at mobility’s social side. Fascinatingly consistent are the adjectives and adverbs that qualify the promises that are made for these technologies. Segways, for instance, were sustainable, enviro-friendly, shared. Smart, personalized, and robotic are some of the commonly invoked terms in the growing literature on this particular PMD (personal mobility device). Adverbial are the benefits of automated driving too: safe and liberating, both values desired by a nineteenth-century urbanized Austrian society that imagined the city as a space of settled inhabitants free of migrants and hence also free of crimes.

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From Epistemology of Suspicion to Racial Profiling

Hans Gross, Mobility, and Crime around 1900

Gal Hertz

Hans Gross (1847–1915), the founder of Austro-Hungarian criminology, developed an epistemology of suspicion that targeted and profiled individuals as well as social and ethnic groups based mainly on their uprootedness and displacement. The scientific practices of observation and analysis he implemented in criminal investigations were anchored in epistemological assumptions that redefined and questioned both the object of study (namely, the criminal) and the subject (the investigator). By transferring scientific ideas and methods from the natural and social science into police work and judicial processes, Gross’s study of crime merged biological and social perspectives. This meant the categories of deviancy were attached to foreignness and social difference, migration and effects of urban life. His epistemology was underlined by social Darwinism, and his forensics, far from being an objective study, advocated what is today known as racial profiling.

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From Sickle to Pen

Women's Education and Everyday Mobility in Rural Pakistan

Muhammad A. Z. Mughal

This article discusses the relationship between women’s education and their everyday mobility in the rural areas of Punjab, Pakistan. Based on an ethnographic case study from a village in Southern Punjab, information from semi-structured interviews and observations is used to demonstrate an enhanced access to education has altered women’s everyday mobility trends. However, questions regarding women’s empowerment remain unresolved. Although some rural women have always been engaged in agricultural activities, there have been limitations on their mobility due to cultural sensitivities. I conclude the nature of social and socio-spatial relationships is being negotiated in some cultural contexts of rural Punjab through the changing facets of women’s mobility associated with modern education.

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From Victim to Villain

Cycling, Traffic Policy, and Spatial Conflicts in Stockholm, circa 1980

Martin Emanuel

This article employs a social practice approach to analyze the boom and bust of cycling in Stockholm around 1980, in the context of broader socioeconomic trends and under the influence of new cyclists, bicycle innovation, and local traffic policy. Within a predominantly car-based city traffic regime, which rendered some mobility practice more legitimate than others, measures intended for cyclists were taken at the expense of pedestrians rather than motorists. Because of a blend of more cyclists, faster bicycles, and design choices based on the car as norm, the image of the cyclist transformed from that of the victim (of automobility) to the villain, and, for this reason, cycling was less easily supported by local politicians. Combined with the second wave of automobility in the 1980s, bicycle policy and planning lost its steam, and cycling declined.

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More Than Trolleys

Plausible, Ethically Ambiguous Scenarios Likely to Be Encountered by Automated Vehicles

Noah Goodall

As the act of driving becomes increasingly automated, vehicles will encounter situations where different objectives of safety, mobility, and legality will come into conflict. These situations require a vehicle to compare relative values of different entities and objectives, where the action of the vehicle has a moral component. While discussion of these scenarios often focuses on the “trolley problem” thought experiment, these types of life-or-death moral dilemmas may be rare in practice. This article identifies four far more common examples of routine driving that require decisions with some level of ethical reasoning about how to distribute risk. These scenarios may be useful for automated vehicle developers in assessing vehicle safety and responding to potential future regulations, as well as for regulators in developing performance requirements.

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Oceanic Travels

Future Voyages for Moving Deep and Wide within the ''New Mobilities Paradigm''

Kimberley Peters and Rachael Squire

The seas and oceans, ships and boats, alongside other maritime activities and practices, have become a focus of work within the “new mobilities paradigm.” However, water worlds much like the space they occupy in the relation to the land remain situated in the margins of such work, despite an oceanic (re)turn in disciplines such as human geography, sociology, anthropology, and politics. Drawing from this recognition, this article seeks to make two contributions. First, following earlier, agenda-setting work, it makes a renewed call for mobilities scholarship to centralize work on oceans, ships, and other forms seagoing travel and life. Second, in doing so, it suggests such work needs to voyage more deeply and widely in the future, exploring mobilities beyond surficial connections and flows across our oceans, and making more expansive the subjects and objects and scales of investigation, under the remit of the “new mobilities paradigm.”