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Contested Spaces

Bicycle Lanes in Urban Europe, 1900-1995

Ruth Oldenziel and Adri Albert de la Bruhèze

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.

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Maxwell Gordon Lay

A motorway is universally defined as a road specifically provided for motor traffic, with dual carriageways separating oncoming traffic, with all intersections grade-separated, and with no access from abutting properties.1 However, these three papers on motorway history will suggest that this definition is not nearly as simple and straightforward as we might previously have assumed. The papers are each significant contributions to our understanding of European motorway development and usefully present the planning and development of motorways from very different perspectives.

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The Morality of Motoring

The Emergence of the Automobile in Belgium, 1895-1940

Donald Weber

The emergence of the automobile in Belgium from 1895 onwards brutally disrupted the traditional social order on the roads, transforming social practices and the order of society from the mundane-the everyday use of transport-to the more rarified-urban planning and the use of public space. In this article, we will deal with the earliest history of motorization in Belgium. We will analyze motorization as a process of interaction between a specific set of social actors, and focus on its outcome: modern traffic policy as a conflict-management strategy. It is argued that traffic policy evolved from an originally moral strategy into a technical strategy, as engineers and the public road administration introduced Foucauldian approaches in order to discipline the traffic system.

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Emma Terama, Juha Peltomaa, Catarina Rolim and Patrícia Baptista

The popularity of car sharing as part of the urban mobility repertoire has barely increased from a niche contribution in recent decades. Although holding potential to address local issues such as congestion and air quality, but even more crucially to meet the urgent need to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions from traffic, car sharing often meets barriers stemming from local contexts, regulatory environments, and/or lack of political support or consumer awareness. In this article, we discuss the interdependencies of these barriers and provide some key elements to consider in the future when planning practical implementation, research initiatives, and policy support for car sharing in order to overcome the complex and interrelated barriers.

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Harry Oosterhuis

After the Second World War, the bicycle was surpassed by the car as the dominant mode of individual transportation in most Western countries. Since the 1970s, however, bicycle use has again gained some support both from the general public and from governments. In the last two decades national governments and cities throughout the Western world, from Norway to Australia and the United States to Germany, as well as the European Union, have launched policy statements and programs aimed at promoting cycling. Policy documents show much optimism about the possibilities to increase the bike’s modal share in transport by means of infrastructural and social engineering. These policy plans have enhanced social scientific and traffic engineering research into bicycle use and its facilitation.