Moving beyond physical mobility: blogging about cycling and urban transport policy
It is often acknowledged that movement exists in multiple, interdependent forms and that we live in\ud an Information Age. However, mobilities perspectives on contemporary cycling tend to neglect the\ud a) interconnections between transport (physical mobility of people and objects) and communication\ud (mobility of symbolic information) b) paradigmatic shifts in modernity that affect how and why we\ud communicate about transport. This thesis responds to such neglect. Firstly, it places urban cycling\ud in an internet context by examining practices and perceptions of policy blogging, asking why do\ud individuals blog about cycling-related transport policy and to what effect? Secondly, it analyses the\ud answers to these questions through the theoretical lens of the risk society and reflexive\ud modernisation theses. Empirical data is the result of 46 semi-structured interviews with bloggers\ud and expert system representatives, mostly in London, New York and Paris.\ud Blogging about cycling-related transport policy is shown to be an individualised response to the\ud perceived failings of expert systems, as well as in Giddens’ words, a ‘reflexive project of the self’.\ud Citizens who may otherwise only be policy subjects or passive consumers of transport, emerge as\ud policy, media and civil society actors by virtue of their ability to publish information, which forms the\ud basis of social relations. Through blogging, they produce and mobilise knowledge. Knowledge\ud claims mediated by blogging interact with expert systems responsible for transport, which in turn\ud adapt; routine institutional practices evolve; a new order emerges; blogging makes a difference.\ud That difference is however limited, not least because the public remains reliant on expert systems.\ud Ultimately, despite the obvious importance of physical mobility to cycling, this thesis seeks to move\ud beyond it. Information and communication technologies have radically altered how we -\ud researchers, the public, expert system representatives - communicate about and understand\ud cycling, and as such, this project argues for a renewed emphasis on mobilities in a genuinely plural\ud sense of the word as being about more than physically moving from A to B.