Today most cities emphasize the construction of separate bicycle lanes as a sure path toward sustainable urban mobility. Historical evidence shows a singular focus on building bicycle lanes without embedding them into a broader bicycle culture and politics is far too narrow. Bicycle lanes were never neutral, but contested from the start. Based on comparative research of cycling history covering nine European cities in four countries, the article shows the crucial role representations of bicycles play in policymakers' and experts' planning for the future. In debating the regulation of urban traffic flows, urban-planning professionals projected separate lanes to control rather than to facilitate working- class, mass-scale bicycling. Significantly, cycling organizations opposed the lanes, while experts like traffic engineers and urban planners framed automobility as the inevitable modern future. Only by the 1970s did bicycle lanes enter the debate as safe and sustainable solutions when grass-roots cyclists' activists campaigned for them. The up and downs of bicycle lanes show the importance of encouraging everyday utility cycling by involving diverse social groups.
Bicycle Lanes in Urban Europe, 1900-1995
Ruth Oldenziel and Adri Albert de la Bruhèze
Life Cycle ethnographically and visually documents the everyday use of bicycles among Kolkata’s city dwellers. Winding through the city’s congested thoroughfares and narrow by-lanes, we follow daily wageworkers, including migrants from eastern India, environmentalists, teachers, and activists, who cycle for a living. In this documentary (forty-two minutes) and the broader ethnographic project within which it is situated, I investigate how cycling mediates people’s changing relationships to cities in South Asia. Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), the largest city in eastern India, is the primary focus of Life Cycle. This city has 1.68 million cyclists, records 2.5 million cycle trips a day, has the least amount of road space (6 percent) in metropolitan India, and has the second highest air pollution level. By 2017, traffic regulations prohibited cycling on seventy city roads.
Today and Tomorrow
Cycle rickshaws continue to play an important role in meeting the mobility demands in South Asian cities. Current transport policies, however, do not support their use. Rickshaws are viewed as a cause of congestion and a profession in which rickshaw owners exploit poor people. This article presents data from published studies to argue against those views. Data from Delhi metro users suggests that as cities expand their public transport services, rickshaws will continue as an important feeder mode in the future. Recent studies also suggest that if separate lanes are created for non-motorized vehicles (which can be used by bicycles as well), then rickshaws and motorized vehicles will experience less congestion and non-motorized vehicles will be exposed to lower traffic crash risk. This article advocates the collection of relevant data concerning rickshaw trips and the number of rickshaws in future travel surveys and that appropriate infrastructures should be designed to facilitate their movement.
Eirini Kasioumi, Anna Plyushteva, Talya Zemach-Bersin, Kathleen F. Oswald, Molly Sauter, Alexandra Ganser, Mustafa Ahmed Khan, Natasha Raheja, Harry Oosterhuis and Benjamin Fraser
Max Hirsh, Airport Urbanism: Infrastructure and Mobility in Asia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016), 216 pp., 80 black-and-white illustrations, 20 color plates, $25 (paperback), $87.50 (hardback)
Laura Bang Lindegaard, Congestion: Rationalising Automobility in the Face of Climate Change (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2015), 214 pp., $54.95 (hardback)
Neriko Musha Doerr and Hannah Davis Taïeb, eds., The Romance of Crossing Borders: Studying and Volunteering Abroad (New York: Berghahn Books, 2017), 302 pp., $90 (hardback)
Ehren Helmut Pflugfelder, Communicating Mobility and Technology: A Material Rhetoric for Persuasive Transportation (London: Routledge, 2017), 178 pp., 19 illustrations, $149.95 (hardback), $54.95 (ebook)
Christo Sims, Disruptive Fixation: School Reform and the Pitfalls of Techno- Idealism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017), 232 pp., $27.95 (paperback), $80 (hardback)
Charlotte Mathieson, ed., Sea Narratives: Cultural Responses to the Sea, 1600– Present (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 281 pp., 5 illustrations, €93.59 (hardback), €74.96 (ebook)
Till Mostowlansky, Azan on the Moon: Entangling Modernity along Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017), 240 pp., 25 black-and-white illustrations, $26.95 (paperback)
Steff en Köhn, Mediating Mobility: Visual Anthropology in the Age of Migration (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016), 208 pp., $30 (paperback)
Margaret Guroff, The Mechanical Horse: How the Bicycle Reshaped American Life (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016), 295 pp., 10 black-and-white photographs, 5 black-and-white illustrations, $17.95 (paperback)
Melody L. Hoffmann, Bike Lanes Are White Lanes: Bicycle Advocacy and Urban Planning (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016), 210 pp., $40 (paperback)
Alexander Braun, ed., Winsor McCay: The Airship Adventures of Little Nemo (Cologne: Taschen, 2017), 288 pp., $15 (hardback)