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Oldenziel, Ruth, and Adri A. de la Bruhèze. "Contested Spaces: Bicycle Lanes in Urban Europe, 1900-1995." Transfers 1, no. 2 (2011): 31-49


Abstract and Figures

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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• 29
Transfers 1(2), Summer 2011: 29–49 © Transfers 2011
doi: 10.3167/trans.2011.010203
Contested Spaces
Bicycle Lanes in Urban Europe, 1900–1995
Ruth Oldenziel and Adri Albert de la Bruhèze
Eindhoven University of Technology and University of Twente
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 trac ows, urban-planning
professionals projected separate lanes to control rather than to facilitate working-
class, mass-scale bicycling. Signicantly, cycling organizations opposed the lanes,
while experts like trac 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. e up and downs of bicycle lanes show the importance of encouraging
everyday utility cycling by involving diverse social groups.
bicycle lanes, European history, mobility, modernity, urban planning,
users, utilitarian bicycling, traffic planning
From Shanghai to Bogotá, policymakers, green activists, and cycling
enthusiasts are investing their political capital in building bicycle
lanes to achieve sustainable urban mobility for our congested cities.1
In Bogotá, Mayor Enrique Peñalosa Londoñohas installed the world’s
most comprehensive network of segregated bike lanes. In 2009, New
York City completed a 200-mile bicycle lane network to turn the city
safer and greener; recently, the city of London invested £111 million to
increase bicycling; and Copenhagen has developed measures to reach a 50
Ruth Oldenziel and Adri Albert de la Bruhèze
30 • © Transfers • Volume 1 Issue 2 • Summer 2011
percent bicycle share in commuter traffic by 2015. Indeed, most policies
in European, South-American, and U.S. cities favor the construction of
bicycle lanes, assuming that separate and safe lanes will help to increase
utility cycling.2
Cycling activists point out that constructing bicycle lanes should never
be the sole focus, but always be combined with policies to install special
road junctions, limit vehicles’ speed, calm residential neighborhood traffic,
offer bike parking facilities, and demand traffic training for both cyclists
and motorists.3 Some scholars even question the claimed relationship
between bicycle lanes, safety, and sustainability, arguing that bicycle lanes
serve to maintain rather than challenge existing motorized travel and
traffic planning norms.4 Such different understandings—of what cycling
represents, who the (ideal) bicycle user is, and what the policy purpose
should be—also produce different solutions (high tech versus utility
design) and infrastructures (protected bike high ways versus unmixed and
calming of traffic flow).
In this article, we offer historical support to show that investing in
bicycle lanes to increase urban bicycle use is a laudable policy choice,
but a singular focus on building bicycle lanes without embedding them
in broad-based cycling cultures is likely to lead to technological rather
than user-driven designs and solutions. In their ground-breaking article,
historian of technology Wiebe Bijker and sociologist of science Trevor Pinch
argued that social actors are important in the shaping of new technology.
Indeed, social diversity based on class, gender, and geography was—and
still is—crucial for both the shaping and social embedding of bicycling.5
While Bijker and Pinch focused on the period up to the 1890s, we examine
the period after 1900 when in many European cities utility cycling became
a wide-scale, but little understood, phenomenon. Based on De la Bruhèze
and Veraart’s comparative research of cycling history in nine cities in
Britain, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands, we show
the crucial role of active bicycle users’ organizations, policymakers, and
politicians.6 Even more fundamental, however, are the representations
that policymakers, citizens, and cyclists project in their vision for the
future. The history of the bicycle lane—either part of or separate from the
road—lets us view these dynamics in more detail.7
From Macho Machine through Touring Bike to Work Cycle
When pedal-driven bikes first arrived on the scene in the 1860s, they
symbolized the nineteenth-century modern mobility in industrializing
countries from the U.K., the U.S., France, Germany, Belgium, and the
Netherlands to Russia, Japan, and China. Everywhere, the domestication
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of the bicycle went through similar phases, although there were local
colorings. In what follows we offer a rough trajectory of the international
developments. In the first phase from the 1860s to the early 1880s, the
high-wheel models were designed and used for the thrill of danger, speed,
and adventure. Young single men of the emerging bourgeois classes
established bicycle clubs and engaged in cycling as a daring sport. They
turned what they called “machines” into symbols of male modernity and
In the second phase between 1880 and 1900, well described in the
literature, urban middle-class women and older men began to tour on
so-called “safety bicycles.” Unlike the high-wheeled model, the safety
bicycle sported equal-sized wheels for better balance, a dropped frame
for easier mount, a chain drive for speed, and air-filled tires for comfort.9
Such designs made cycling accessible to ever larger-growing groups of
users like feminists, who celebrated the bicycle’s sense of freedom.10 The
urban cyclist of the 1890s visited parks, escaped the city, and toured the
countryside. Exceedingly well organized in hundreds of bicycle clubs,
these bourgeois cyclists lobbied to open footpaths, towpaths, and main
arteries to all road users.11 Cycling in this period was not an everyday
practice, but a leisure activity of adventure, exploration, and pleasure.12
The design and meaning of cycling changed once again in the third
and fourth—and least understood—phases. Between 1900 and 1918, the
touring bike became also a work cycle. Professionals (ministers, doctors,
and midwives), shopkeepers (bakers and butchers), and civil servants
(postmen and soldiers) began to mount bikes for daily use to do business,
commute, and transport goods.13 Later, skilled workers bought bicycles to
commute to work. So too, young rural folk, followed by farmers and their
wives, began to cycle to reach the field, the next town, the church, and the
cinema.14 Bikes became more heavily accessorized for intensive daily use
with brakes, front and back racks, as well as sturdy stands for short stops
and quick deliveries. This bicycle was a workhorse rather than a fancy
touring machine. In the fourth phase of the interwar period, cycling in
most countries boomed, becoming a truly mass-scale urban phenomenon.
Saving costs by getting rid of extras like the chain guard, coaster brakes,
and back racks, the bicycle industry brought down the prices and tapped
into the market of unskilled workers.15
The 1900 Paris exhibition is often taken to symbolize the moment
automobiles entered the twentieth century as the trailblazers of individual
mobility. Yet it was cycling rather than automobility that came to dominate
interwar streets in such European cities like York, Basle, Bremen,
Rotterdam, and Leuven, to name a few among many.16 Percentage-wise
car sales compared to bicycle sales increased dramatically, but in absolute
terms remained exceedingly small.17 By the mid-1930s, the number of
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bicycles had soared to fifteen million in Germany, nine million in Britain,
seven million in France, four million in Italy, and two million in Belgium.
In the Netherlands, with three million bicycles, every second citizen owned
one. An American journalist asserted in 1934 that in The Netherlands the
bicycle had become “almost a part of the body” and joked that if evolution
theory had any say in it, within a century one would see Dutch babies,
“coming into this world on tiny bicycles.”18 Another contemporary roughly
calculated that whereas in the U.S. there were seventeen cars to one bicycle
in the 1930s, in Europe there were seven bicycles to one car.19 As Figures 1
and 2 show, compared to cars and public transport, bicycles were the most
popular means of transport well into the 1960s.
1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
Car density (cars per 1000 inhabitants)
Great Britain
Figure 1. Car ownership in eight European countries per 1000 inhabitants, 1920–2005.
Source: Extended graph of Bruheze and Veraart, in Fietsverkeer, 184. The extended
graph includes Italy and France, and covers a longer period (1990–2005). The
additional data were provided by Ruth Oldenziel, Frank Veraart and Hanna M. Wolf,
Following America? Dutch Geographical Car Diffusion 1900 to 1980 (Eindhoven:
Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Ph.D. Thesis 2010), 3, 4, 9 and 11.
How then do we explain the general conceived notion that cars rather
than bicycles were the most important innovations on the road in the
twentieth century? The distorted view of history comes from the U.S.,
where bicycle production figures plummeted from sky-high levels while
car sales increased dramatically.20 In the public imagination, policy
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© Transfers • Volume 1 Issue 2 • Summer 2011 • 33
projections, and later studies on automobiles, America’s present seemed
to signal Europe’s inevitable future. Even in bicycle-friendly Amsterdam,
the City Department of Public Works in the 1930s compared the number of
cars in the Netherlands and the U.S. in terms of lagging behind.22
In retrospect, we can see how the shifting meaning of the bicycle
from a middle-class to a working-class means of transportation proved
politically precarious. During the interwar period, when bicycles boomed
as everyday devices in the cities, the upper-middle class culturally shifted
gears from cycling to promote automobile touring, while many European
governments began to treat bicycle traffic as a problem to be solved rather
than a solution to be embraced.23 At the same time, socialist, liberal,
and bourgeois reformers pushed the bicycle as an instrument to uplift,
discipline, and educate the working classes, except in the Netherlands,
where cycling remained thoroughly genteel.24 Policy discussions centered
on whether roads should remain a space for mixed traffic or become a
mono-functional space privileging motorized transit. In this context,
1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990
Percentage (%)
Amsterda m
Southeast Limburg
Figure 2. Bicycles’ share in total number of car, public transport, bicycle, and
moped trips in eleven European cities, 1920–1995.21
Source: Extended graph of Bruhèze and Veraart, Fietsverkeer, 14. The extended
graph includes London and Stockholm. The London and Stockholm data were
provided by Peter Cox and Martin Emanuel.
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34 • © Transfers • Volume 1 Issue 2 • Summer 2011
the bicycle became associated with the working class and with unsafe
situations. In the minds of policymakers in many cities, intensification
of urban traffic, the increased numbers of accidents, and speed became
linked to and blamed on the bicycle. Governments began to regulate
cyclists, while new professionals like civil engineers and urban planners
converged on bicycle lanes as their preferred solution to regulate and
facilitate traffic flow, turning the politically charged discourse of speed
into a neutralizing category of analysis.25 As we will see, the bicycle lane—
as part of or separate from the road—perfectly matched the emerging
functionalist notions of segregating urban social activities, traffic streams,
and water, energy, and sanitation systems.
Contesting Bicycle Lanes as Tools of Discipline, 1920–1950
Today we associate bicycle lanes with paths of safety, but in the interwar
period many European cycling organizations opposed the construction
and use of urban bicycle lanes.26 Earlier, cycling organizations had neither
promoted separating the traffic streams of horses, carts, pedestrians, and
cars nor campaigned for the construction of separate bicycle lanes, nor had
they opposed cars. The clubs simply advocated to improve road surfaces
for everyone. Consumer organizations like the British Cyclist Touring Club
(CTC), Touring Club de France, the Dutch ANWB, the Touring Club Italiano,
and the Dansk Cyklist Forbund pioneered in initiating road improvements
and pushing government agendas. The CTC and their Road Improvement
Association campaigned to improve the dense network of existing roads
and tracks.27 In the U.S., cyclists started the Good Roads Organization in
1880, pressuring local governments to improve the roads.28 In Germany,
local bicycle organizations like Hanover’s Radfahr-Renn-Verein and the
Magdeburger Verein für Radfahrwege did the same.29 In the Netherlands, the
Algemene Nederlandse Wielrijdersbond (ANWB) and its Road Commission
was crucial.30 In Italy, the Touring Club Italiano, the strongest middle-class
organization in the country, was equally active.31 None of the European
bicycle organizations took anti-motorized transportation positions, best
illustrated by the inclusive names of organizations like the Rad- und
Kraftfahrerbund Solidarität and the Deutscher Rad- und Motorfahrer
Verband Concordia. Some clubs did advocate separate bicycle roads for
touristic pleasure. The Dutch national organization financed separate
bicycle paths for recreational purposes along roads through rural areas.32
In the 1910s, powerful local bicycle organizations in Germany promoted
special road sections to foster bicycle tourism in the countryside, while
some cities installed special bicycle segments on roads.33 In all these
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initiatives, however, when proposing to separate cyclists from motorists or
pedestrians, advocates promoted cyclists’ riding comfort rather than their
safety. Most importantly, for our argument, in the golden age of cycling
between 1880 and 1920, the clubs succeeded exceedingly well in shaping
existing and emerging infrastructures for all. As civil-society organizations,
they developed user-based political expertise in municipal and state
governance in part because neither the state nor experts systematically
intervened on behalf of cyclists.
That changed in the late 1920s, when bicycle and motorized traffic
began to compete in cities. Starting in the mid nineteenth century, local
policymakers introduced new concepts to reorganize streets, manage
the explosion of the number of vehicles and persons, and improve urban
efficiency. City councils and traffic departments began widening streets,
filling up canals, pulling down houses, building sub-surface roads,
and regulating traffic speed as their primary tools to control what they
considered the chaotic development of the city.34 In this urban context,
separate lanes were introduced as a measure to literally push bicycles
aside. As the Swedish engineer Einar Nordendahl for the Regional Plan for
Greater Stockholm bluntly remarked in 1936, “The construction of special
lanes for bicyclists and pedestrians is to a large degree motivated by the
urge to free the main lane from such traffic elements.”35 By the interwar
period, the construction of urban bicycle lanes and the funding of roads
had become a contested terrain of class politics. In the 1920s, the Dutch
socialist MP Florentinus Wibaut questioned the unfair bicycle taxes, which
were “mostly generated by proletarians,” for whom “the bicycle is the
same as for others the soles of their shoes.”36 The same criticism came
from a Vienna businessman with no sympathy for socialists in the 1930s.37
After the First World War, nation-states increased their role in
transportation, urban development, and social planning. Particularly
in the (war) economies of Communist Russia, Fascist Italy, and Nazi
Germany, the state appropriated urban planning and traffic policies,
strongly favoring motorized mobility.38 Professionals, who developed new
areas of expertise dealing with the modern city, also entered the debate.
Enabled by government agencies, professional groups like civil engineers
and traffic engineers began to challenge the expertise of the civil-society
organizations. As new professionals began to speak on behalf of cyclists
and successfully claimed a new expertise in urban trafficking, bicycle clubs
lost their monopoly over user-based expertise. The new professionals
framed cyclists’ dominance over the road increasingly as a problem.
Almost everywhere, municipal traffic engineers portrayed bicycles as
dangerous and as obstacles to more modern modes of mobility. They
blamed cyclists for traffic congestion, dangerous situations, and increased
traffic accidents.39
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At the same time, working-class organizations like the German
Solidarität, the Danish Arbejdernes Bicycle Club (ABC), the Italian Ciclisti
Rossi, and the British Clarion Cycling Club demanded more room for
cyclist infrastructure.40 Politically speaking, bicycles and cars were on a
collision course during the interwar period. In 1935, the British labor MP
John Banfield put the conflict sharply, asking “the Minister of Transport
whether he is aware of the resentment felt by the large body of pedal
cyclists, numbering some 10 million, against the restrictions imposed
upon their use of the roads by recent regulations?” No doubt because of
facing the threat of losing his seat to the Labor party, even the conservative
British member of the House of Commons, Sir Wilfred Sugden, pled for
cyclists’ interests, saying, “the 9,500,000 cyclists ought to receive as much
consideration in these democratic days as the 2,250,000 motorists.”41 The
experts took a different political path.
At first glance, experts sought to tame cyclists in countries where the
number of cars grew most rapidly (Figs. 1 and 2). The causal relationship
between the rates of automobility and urban visions was not always close,
however. In the Netherlands, where automobility came late and the national
tourist organization reinforced a classless image of cycling, policymakers
considered bicycles facts of life; in Denmark where automobility grew
quickly, policymakers nevertheless assigned equal traffic rights to cyclists
and motorists.42 Like in the Netherlands, in Germany cars came rather late,
yet policies sought to tame cyclists early on. Levels in automobility then
cannot solely account for the differences. Visions about the future better
explain the treatment of cyclists.
All over Europe, trac professionals and policymakers expected that
in the future, modern motorized trac would inevitably and rightfully
substitute what they projected as old-fashioned bicycle trac.43 Such visions
of the future, in turn, set in motion policy trajectories to guide the projected
substitution of bicycles by cars. Bicycle lanes became the instrument
governments used to deal with increasing trac ows, framed in neutralizing
terms of speed and safety.e policy discourse on how to decrease accidents
between bicycles and cars focused on cyclists. Policymakers sought to re-
educate and discipline cyclists and even discourage cycling altogether.
German and Belgian cities regulated cyclists by separating bicycle trac
streams and subordinating bicycles to public transport and cars. In 1937,
the mayor of the Belgian working-class city of Antwerp proposed prohibiting
cyclists from riding side by side. In addition, Antwerp authorities closed o
many roads for cyclists and forced them to use cycle lanes in other parts.44
e same happened in Hannover, Germany.45 And in the manufacturing
port town of Manchester, the labor-dominated city council gave priority to
the construction of an extensive public-transport system over investing in
bicycle lanes for its working-class constituency.46
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© Transfers • Volume 1 Issue 2 • Summer 2011 • 37
The clubs, however, continued to lobby for general access and
improving road surfaces as they had done so successfully in previous
decades. In Britain, the National Committee on Cycling (NCC)—an alliance
of the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC), the National Cycling Union (NTC),
and bicycle manufacturers—resented the new car-governed traffic policies
that restricted cyclists’ freedom of movement. Since the 1890s, British
cyclists had successfully gained the right to use the “King’s Highways.” The
clubs were not about to give up that right so easily. In the 1930s, the CTC
opposed separate bicycle lanes, fearing their construction would take away
cyclists’ fundamental rights as traffic participants and actually threaten
cyclists’ safety. They argued that separate lanes encouraged car drivers to
ignore cyclists. “It is wrong in principle that a cyclist should be required to
put himself to considerable trouble and expense to keep from being run
into by a driver who is not obeying the common law of England.” For the
same reason, the NCC opposed other road safety proposals like mandatory
rear lights.47 Associated with workers, cyclists and bicycles became tightly
connected to stubbornness and disorderly conduct in the ensuing political
contest. In turn, the association led to new anti-cyclists policies.48
In Germany, the spectacular increase in bicycles in the interwar period
prompted traffic engineers and urban planners to end local bicycle
initiatives and to systematize bicycle lane design and construction, which
they now considered to lay within their professional domain. Traffic
engineers designed separate bike paths not to create riding comfort for
cyclists, but to take them off the road through segregation. In 1926, the
government agency Zentralstelle für Radwege became responsible for the
design and construction of bicycle lanes in cities. Under the Nazi regime,
the 1934 Reichs-Strassen-Verkehrs-Ordnung regulated the separation of
traffic and the Radwegebenutzungspflicht coerced cyclists to use bicycle
lanes.49 Bicycle lanes were defined as the safe solution to prevent traffic
chaos and congestion. Thus, traffic safety, traffic separation, and bicycle
lanes became locked into an iron triangle. The focus on separate traffic
flows as a means of control was not an exclusive obsession of the Nazis.
European traffic engineers and urban planners shared the modernist
notion of uninterrupted traffic flows.
In short, what is most remarkable about the interwar period is that
policymakers, traffic engineers, and urban planners were all convinced,
that even though bicycle use was booming in most cities, cars would
inevitably be the dominant mode of transport in the future. Blueprints were
sketched accordingly, well illustrated by the discussions of the Congrès
Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) about the functional city.
In 1935, modernist architects took Amsterdam urban planning as their
model for 34 other cities. The municipal engineer Cornelis van Eesteren, a
leading thinker with his CIAM colleagues Walter Gropius and Charles Le
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Corbusier, incorporated the bicycle in the 1935 urban plan for Amsterdam.
His team measured the distances from downtown to the newly designed
working-class neighborhoods in terms of how long it would take to cycle
from home to work and determined city expansion should not go beyond a
reasonable distance of bike commuting.50 While the Amsterdam blueprint
echoed throughout Europe and the U.S. among modernist urban planners,
the inclusion of the bicycle in the urban vision was lost in subsequent
decades. In the hyper-modernist vision of Le Corbusier, European
planning was recalibrated in a car-dominated blueprint for modern cities
after the Second World War.51 In many cities, those class-inflected visions
became reinscribed in American-oriented terms of progress, classlessness,
and abundance in the political context of the Cold War. Still, it is important
to remember that during the interwar period the outcome of the new
mobility was still debated, contested, and open-ended.
Erasing Bicycles as Paths toward Modernity, 1950–1975
The rebuilding of many severely damaged European cities offered
policymakers and urban planners the opportunity to realize their pre-
war blueprints of modern mobility. The postwar rebuilding plans turned
out to be the tipping point in what had thus far been a contested terrain
with trends but no clear winners. In postwar reconstruction, the nation-
states in Europe all reinforced the shift toward anti-cycling sentiments and
pro-car attitudes. Moreover, new legal and political frameworks routinely
cast European consumers as incompetent, immature, and dependent.
Consumers like cyclists needed protection, guidance, and (re)education.52
Influenced by American models, urban planners cast cars as modern and
progressive; bicycles were anachronistic and unsafe.53 Such visions of
the future reigned in the newly established (U.S.) academic disciplines
of urban planning and traffic engineering, which sought to revive and
modernize postwar European, especially German, traffic planning.
Academics, professionals, and consultants in these new disciplines,
in alliance with politicians, turned into powerful players in European
postwar transportation regimes.54 In their resolute opinion, the future
belonged to the car. Therefore, policy initiative should prepare cities for
such an inevitable future. In the words of the Stockholm social democratic
commissioner for municipal building, Helge Berglund, after a study tour
in the United States with the Swedish delegation of traffic politicians,
engineers, and urban planners, automobility represented “an irresistible
development, to which urban planning has to adjust.”55
It was a remarkable turn of events. During and after the Second World
War, cycling grew even more dramatically than before as governments
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© Transfers • Volume 1 Issue 2 • Summer 2011 • 39
encouraged the bicycle as the cheapest means of transport in response
to gas rationing, war damages, scarcity, and poverty. The war-related
experiences further reinforced the image of the bicycle as a poor man’s
mode of transport.56 The associations turned the bicycle into the antithesis
of motorized transport, and especially the car, symbolizing U.S.-inspired
visions of middle-class mobility, peace, and abundance.
In the radically changed climate of postwar reconstruction, bicycle
organizations resigned themselves to the emerging discourse. The British
bicycle organizations now accepted sectioned-off cycle lanes on existing
roads, but continued to resist traffic separation, even while the British
government projected cycle lanes as the only appropriate way to segregate
bicycles from cars, as illustrated in the postwar planning for Manchester’s
urban development.57 More fundamentally, in local debates about car-
governed cities bicycles either suffered benign neglect or active hostility.58
British cyclists—like their German, Belgian, and Swiss counterparts—often
found themselves pushed from the road entirely. The Antwerp cycling
leadership articulated the feeling of many cyclists, saying they felt treated
as the “pariahs of the road.”59
While the Dutch Tourist Association ANWB and the Dansk Cyklist
Forbund remained powerful lobbyists for building and maintaining
bicycle infrastructure, even Dutch and Danish local policymakers shifted
their views, representing cyclists as careless, unpredictable, undisciplined,
and unskilled traffic participants, who hindered motorized and public
transport.60 Over the years, policymakers and urban planning professionals
positioned themselves as the true spokesmen for cyclists and delegitimized
the voice of bicycle organizations. In their technocratic approach, they
cast cycling as dangerous and irresponsible, unbefitting modernity and
progress.61 City councils were no help either as they prioritized public
transport as a commuting alternative for urban residents without cars,
ignoring cyclists altogether.62 Public transportation, the Stockholm traffic
commissioner believed, had to serve “the car-less proletariat.”63
In Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland, authorities took more drastic
measures. Policymakers suspended the construction of new lanes and
dismantled existing bicycle lanes to create space for cars. In Hannover,
cyclists had to share car-governed roads and were prohibited to ride on
many inner city streets. In Basle, cars were allowed to park on sidewalks.
In fact, Swiss policymakers eyed bicycle lanes as an opportunity for
expanding car parking once bicycling had gone.64 The attitude spread
throughout Europe: cycle lanes no longer served as tools to discipline and
separate bicycles from other forms of urban traffic, but offered planning
opportunities to increase urban car space once cyclists had disappeared
from the urban landscape.65 In short, the bicycle and its infrastructure had
been erased from policy agendas.
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Bike Lanes as Symbols of Sustainability, 1975–1995
In the late 1960s, from Copenhagen to New York and Toronto, new grass-
roots organizations challenged traffic planners’ technocratic views.
“Amsterdammers!” the anarchist cycling activist Provo announced in
1967, “The asphalt terror of the motorized bourgeoisie has lasted long
enough.”66 Fed up with dangerous, car congested, and polluting car-
governed cities, activists promoted a better quality of life, explicitly linking
cycling to slowing down urban speed and improving city life, health, and
environment. Grass-roots organizations demanded a regime shift from
car-governed cities to public transport, bicycle-, and pedestrian-governed
cities, reviving and (re)empowering bicycle organizations. The movement
participated in a broader cultural resistance against the technocratic and
consumerist welfare state in the 1960s, successfully inserting bicycles
into integrated traffic plans that acknowledge bicycles as normal modes
of urban mobility. It broke a powerful anti-bicycle constellation that
had become the norm in the previous two decades.67 Now cycle lanes
transformed into symbols of bicycle power, health, and sustainability.
In several cities, policymakers either matched or adopted the 1970s
grass-roots initiatives. Environmental awareness, a new understanding
that car-governed cities caused more problems than they solved, the
1974 and 1976 energy crises, and the 1980s economic recession forced
policymakers to develop bicycle-friendly attitudes. Integrated bicycle
lanes and bicycle networks became their new policy instruments. In Swiss,
Belgian, British, and German cities the revival of the bicycle overwhelmed
local civil servants. The Antwerp Police Commissioner characterized the
sentiment, saying, “Suddenly, public administrators and the police were
shocked into action because of skyrocketing energy prices and pressure
from activists.”68 In Basle, new bicycle organizations like Aktion Pro Velo
and Velo-Aktion encountered fierce resistance from the car lobby and
policymakers, who had expected the bicycle revival to be short-lived.
Policymakers claimed that anti-bicycle decisions, once taken, could not
be undone. Their wait-and-see attitude prompted cyclists to protest on the
street and forced the city council to reconsider its long-term anti-bicycle
policy. Yet the new bicycle organizations faced an uphill battle as they had
to start almost from scratch: streets needed to be made accessible, bicycle
traffic lights installed, traffic and parking rights granted, and infrastructure
built. During the 1990s, Swiss policymakers adopted grass-roots initiatives
often in an ad-hoc fashion and focused on designing bicycle lanes, but
everyday cycling remained just a fraction of the old levels.69
The same happened in Belgium and Britain. Lacking a dense urban
bicycle infrastructure and a vibrant bicycle culture, most citizens of
Antwerp opted for car and public transport. In Manchester, new bicycle
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organizations like the Manchester Cycling Campaign and Sprocket
campaigned for bicycle infrastructures. British policymakers developed
bicycle-lane plans, yet focused on recreational rather than everyday cycling
until the 1980s when policy attention gradually shifted to utilitarian cycling
in urban areas. By then, polls indicated potential British cyclists were now
scared to share the streets with cars.70 British experiences of a once vibrant
bicycle culture had receded completely from collective memory.
In postwar Germany, bicycle lanes were rarely integrated in urban
trac planning and city development. Most cities chose to invest in public
transport instead. Here too, initiatives depended entirely on local bicycle
organizations, which had to rebuild and often re-invent the everyday bicycle
culture that once belonged to the working classes. By default, local experts
and policymakers quickly mobilized their old professional knowledge
of designing and building bicycle lanes in response to pressure from
bicycle groups. In these political contexts, new bicycle experts and local
policymakers came to see bicycle paths as the safe and only appropriate
way to encourage bicycle use. Such quick xes were re-inventions of the
old iron triangle of trac safety/trac separation/bicycle lanes developed
in the 1920s and 1930s, but did little to recreate urban cycling traditions.71
In Danish and Dutch cities, cycling declined rapidly too, yet remained
substantial nevertheless. Here, activists’ critique fell on more receptive
policy ears. In Denmark and The Netherlands, cycling had not disappeared
entirely from political agendas, in part because of funding shortages and
wavering policies in realizing grand visions. Lack of funding and political
impasses seriously postponed traffic modernization. The stalemate offered
cyclists room for negotiation in what turned out to be crucial years for
political change as the Danes just kept on cycling in even larger numbers.72
High car taxes and the Danish Heart Foundation’s promotion of cycling
as healthy in the late 1960s reinforced cycling in Copenhagen.73 When the
counter movement came, Danish policymakers quickly integrated the
grass-roots activism in their traffic plans. Since the 1990s, they have been
at the forefront in promoting the bicycle as part of its environmental and
energy policies since the 1990s.
As in Denmark, cycling in the Netherlands, despite the steep decline
since the early 1950s was still relatively high at the start of the 1970s. Even
though the policy change was relatively easy, local contexts mattered. In
response to the economic decline , the textile-town Enschede opted for a
contracting yet compactly built environment of a lively pedestrian- and
bicycle-governed city. Amsterdam began to build bicycle lanes, alongside
its traditional “laissez faire” and mixed traffic policies. The high-tech car-
governed town of Eindhoven connected regional bicycle networks during
the 1980s and 1990s, but in the working-class mining town Heerlen,
lacking a policy vision and local pressure groups, bicycle commuting
Ruth Oldenziel and Adri Albert de la Bruhèze
42 • © Transfers • Volume 1 Issue 2 • Summer 2011
never recovered.74 More generally, the positive re-evaluation of “slow
traffic” like walking and cycling did lead to architectural and city planning
of small-scale suburban “home zones” (woonerf)—residential areas with
traffic calming, where pedestrians and cyclists enjoy greater traffic rights
than cars.75 In the early 1990s, the government included the bicycle in its
national Transport Structure Plan, while it issued a separate masterplan
for cyclists to guide urban and regional traffic policies in facilitating
comprehensive safe bicycle infrastructures.76 The initiatives marked a
gradual but steady policy shift from motorized traffic to the bicycle.77 By
2005 bicycles were used daily more often in the Netherlands (28 percent)
than in Denmark (18 percent), Germany (14 percent), Switzerland (10
percent), and Great Britain (2 percent).78 The success had less to do with
Dutch DNA or the country’s flatness than with a combination of factors,
including bicycle-friendly representations, strong bourgeois cultures,
urban-planning choices, late automobility, and governmental policies.
e history of urban bicycle lanes in Western Europe reects the twists
and turns of cycling. At rst, the bicycle lanes were mobilized as regulatory
“artifacts” to separate ows, subordinate the bicycle to the car, discipline the
bicycle user, and reduce trac accidents. Local policymakers and planners
dened cyclists as old fashioned, irresponsible, and anarchistic, who
needed to be controlled. Transatlantic disciplines like Radverkehr Planung,
trac engineering, and city planning embraced bicycle lanes as rational
and scientic solutions to solve the problem of urban trac chaos before
erasing them altogether on their path to car-governed modern mobility.
Since the 1970s, safe and segregated bicycle lanes have been resurrected
from the ashes of negative bicycle images, but recast in a very dierent
mold. To reach a critical mass, policymakers from Shanghai to Bogotá will
need to encourage everyday cycling by involving diverse social groups.
Without understanding the history of the vibrant, diverse, and daily practice
of cycling and without a comprehensive view of mobility, an exclusive focus
on building segregated bike lanes will result in lightly travelled bicycle lanes.
1. e authors gratefully acknowledge the suggestions and comments on earlier
drafts by three anonymous reviewers and editor Gijs Mom. In addition, they
especially would like to thank Frank Veraart, Peter Cox and Martin Emanuel
who where always ready to share knowledge and bicycle data, which were
Bicycle Infrastructures in Western European Cities
© Transfers • Volume 1 Issue 2 • Summer 2011 • 43
converted into graphs by student assistants Jorrit Bakker and Valerian Meijering
at Eindhoven University of Technology.
2. NYC Department of Transportation, “Bicycle Network Development,” http:// (accessed 5 January
2011). John Pucher and Ralph Buehler, “At the Frontiers of Cycling: Policy
Innovations in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany,”World Transport Policy
& Practice 13 no. 3 (2007): 9–56; Johan Whitelegg, Critical Mass: Environment and
Society in the Twenty-rst Century (Chicago: Pluto Press, 1997), 190–2; John Pucher
and Ralph Buehler, “Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from the Netherlands,
Denmark and Germany,”Transport Reviews 28 no. 4 (2008): 495–528.
3. J. Franklin, “Two Decades of Roadway Cycle Paths in Milton Keynes,”Trac
Engineering and Control (1999), 393–6; Scientic Expert Group on the Safety
of Vulnerable Road Users (RS7) OECD, Safety of Vulnerable Road Users (Paris:
OECD, 1998); Eero Passanen, e Risks of Cycling (Helsinki: Helsinki City Planning
Department, 1999); Pucher and Buehler, “Frontiers of Cycling.”
4 Peter F. Peters, Time, Innovation and Mobilities: Travel in Technological Cultures
(London: Routledge, 2006), 150–4; Jennifer Bonham and Peter Cox, “The
Disruptive Traveller? A Foucauldian Analysis of Cycleways,”Road & Transport
Research 19 no. 2 (2010): 42–53; John Forrester, “Ideas in Motion: e Bicycle
Transportation Controversy,”Transportation Quarterly 55 no. 2 (2001): 7–18.
5. Wiebe E. Bijker and Trevor J. Pinch, “e Social Construction of Facts and
Artifacts: Or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology
Might Benet Each Other,” in e Social Construction of Technological Systems,
ed. Wiebe E. Bijker, omas P. Hughes, and Trevor J. Pinch (Cambridge, MA: MIT
Press, 1989), 17–50; Wiebe E. Bijker, Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs: Toward a
eory of Sociotechnical Change (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995), 33–53; Dave
Horton, Paul Rosen, and Peter Cox, eds., Cycling and Society (Burlington, VT:
Ashgate,2007), 1–25. For users’ active role in innovations, see Nelly Oudshoorn
and Trevor J. Pinch, eds., How Users Matter: e Co-construction of Users and
Technology (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003).
6. Adri A. de la Bruhèze and Frank C.A. Veraart, Fietsverkeer in praktijk en beleid in
de twintigste eeuw. Overeenkomsten en verschillen in etsgebruik in Amsterdam,
Eindhoven, Enschede, Zuidoost Limburg, Antwerpen, Manchester, Kopenhagen,
Hannover en Basel (Eindhoven: Stichting Historie der Techniek, 1999). Available
only in Dutch, the research is still considered unmatched in its multinational
detailed approach. See Manuel Stoffers and Harry Oosterhuis, “Review. ‘Ons
populairste vervoermiddel.’ De Nederlandse etshistoriograe in internationaal
perspectief,”Bijdragen en Mededelingen Geschiedenis betreende de Geschiedenis der
Nederlanden 124 no. 3 (2009): 390–418, here: 401. A translation is currently considered.
7. Comparing sizes and shapes of lanes, and their relation with number of cyclists is
beyond the scope of this article.
8. Richard Holt, “e Bicycle, the Bourgeoisie and the Discovery of Rural France,”
British Journal of Sports History 2 (1985): 127–39; Christopher S. ompson,
“Bicycling, Class, and the Politics of Leisure in Belle Epoque France,” in Histories
of Leisure, ed. Rudy Koshar (London: Berg, 2002): 131–46; David Rubenstein,
“Cycling in the 1890s,”Victorian Studies 21 no. 1 (1977): 47–71; Richard Harmond,
“Progress and Flight: An Interpretation of the American Bicycle Craze of the
1890’s,” Journal of Social History 5 no. 2 (1971): 235–57.
9. Bijker, Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs, 88–93.
Ruth Oldenziel and Adri Albert de la Bruhèze
44 • © Transfers • Volume 1 Issue 2 • Summer 2011
10. ompson, “Bicycling, Class, and the Politics of Leisure,” 132–6.
11. omas Burr, “National Cycle Organizations in Britain, France, and the United
States, 1875–1905,”Cycle History 18 (2007): 34–42; Zach Furness, “Biketivism and
Technology: Historical Reections and Appropriations,” Social Epistemology 19
no. 4 (2005): 406–11; Bijker, Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs, 94–5.
12. Bijker, Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs, 40.
13. Frank C.A. Veraart, “Geschiedenis van de ets in Nederland, 1870–1940” (MA
Thesis, TU Eindhoven, 1995); Michael Taylor, “Rapid Transit to Salvation:
American Protestants and the Bicycle in the Era of the Cycling Craze,” Journal of
the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 9 no. 3 (2010): 337–63.
14. Tiina Männistö-Funk, “e Crossroads of Technology and Tradition: Vernacular
Bicycles in Rural Finland, 1880–1910,”Technology and Culture (forthcoming).
15. After 1922, cheap and stripped German bicycles ooded the Dutch market.
Veraart, “Geschiedenis van de ets,” 83–4.
16 Stadt- und Landesplanung Bremen, 1926–1930 (Bremen: Hauschild, 1931), 347–8;
“Is is the End of the City of Bikes?”Northern Echo (5 October 1968); Nan van
Zutphen, “Sociale geschiedenis van het etsen te Leuven, 1880–1900,” in Fiets
en lm rond 1900: moderne uitvindingen in Leuven, eds. Nan van Zutphen, et
al., Jaarboek 1979 Vrienden Stedelijke Musea – Leuven (Leuven: Crab, 1979),
107–11, 114–5; Bruhèze and Veraart, Fietsverkeer, 14. See also Figure 2 in this
article. Increasing number of studies present the bicycle as the rst vehicle of
individual mass transport toward the “ride to modernity.” See Manuel Stoers,
Harry Oosterhuis, and Peter Cox, “Bicycle History as Transport History: e
Cultural Turn,” in Mobility in History: emes in Transport, eds. Gijs Mom, et
al. (Neuchatel: Editions Alphil-Presses Universitaires Suisses, 2010), 265–74;
Matthew Patterson, Automobile Politics: Ecology and Cultural Political Economy
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007) shows how the automobile
became the dominant mode of transportation entrenched in a political-industrial-
technical-cultural complex.
17 Karl Hodges, “Did the Emergence of the Automobile End the Bicycle
Boom?”Proceedings Fourth International Cycle History Conference 4 (1993): 39–42.
18 Travel (June 1934) cited in David V. Herlihy, Bicycle: e History (New Haven and
London: Yale University, 2004), 328. In the 1930s, British parliamentary debates,
government ocials claimed at least 9,000,000 cyclists. We thank Peter Cox for the
19 Herlihy, Bicycle: e History, 328. Anne-Katrin Ebert, “Cycling towards the Nation: e
Use of the Bicycle in Germany and the Netherlands, 1880–1940,” European Review of
History – Revue européenne d’Histoire 11 no. 3 (2004): 347–64; Tiina Männistö-Funk,
“Gendered Practices in Finnish Cycling, 1890–1939,”Icon (forthcoming).
20 Jean-Pierre Bardou, e Automobile Revolution: e Impact of an Industry (Chapell
Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982); eo Barker, ed., e Economic
and Social Eects of the Spread of Motor Vehicles: An International Centenary
Tribute (Basingstoke: Macmillan,1987); James Fink, The Automobile Age
(Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993); Nick Georgano, e American Automobile: A
Centenary 1893–1993 (London: Prion, 1992).
21. Trend lines are based on modal splits and trac counts data; where no sound
assessment could be made, the trend line is missing.
Bicycle Infrastructures in Western European Cities
© Transfers • Volume 1 Issue 2 • Summer 2011 • 45
22. Gemeente Amsterdam, Het Verkeer te Amsterdam volgens de uitkomsten van
de openbare verkeerstelling 1930 (Amsterdam: Dienst Publieke Werken, 1934),
Bijlage A, 10.
23. Bruhèze and Veraart, Fietsverkeer, 186–9.
24. Anne-Katrin Ebert, Radelnde Nationen. Die Geschichte des Fahrrads in Deutschland
und den Niederlanden bis 1940 (Frankfurt a.Main: Campus Verlag, 2010), 321–58,
409–12; Stefano Pivato, “e Bicycle as a Political Symbol: Italy, 1885–1955,”
International Journal of the History of Sport 7 (1990): 172–87; Richard J.B. Bosworth,
“e Touring Club Italiano and the Nationalization of the Italian Bourgeoisie,”
European History Quarterly 27 no. 3 (1997): 371–410. For class dimensions in U.S.,
see: Furness, “Biketivism,” 404–5; Ruediger Rabenstein, Radsport und Gesellschaft:
Ihre Sozial-Geschichtlichen Zusammenhaenge in der Zeit van 1867 bis 1914
(Hildesheim: Weidmann, 1955), 178–98; Denis Pye, Fellowship is Life: e National
Clarion Cycling Club 1895–1995 (Bolton: Clarion Publishing, 1995).
25. Gijs Mom, “Roads without Rails: European Tansnational Feeway Network
Building and the Desire for Long-range Motorized Mobility,” Technology and
Culture 46 no. 4 (2005): 745–72, here: 755, 760–9; Peters, Time, Innovation and
Mobilities, 8; Bonham and Cox, “e Disruptive Traveller?” 45.
26. Peters, Time, Innovation and Mobilities, 131. Bernd Kreuzer, “Historische
Verkehrsutopien für die Stadt der Zukunft. Von der Utopie zur Realität,”
in Stadt. Strom-Strasse-Schiene. Die Bedeutung des Verkehrs für die Genese
der mitteleuropäischen Städtelandschaft, ed. Alois Niederstätter (Linz:
Österreichischen Arbeitskreis für Stadtgeschichtsforschung, 2001): 257–305, here:
261, 264, and 280.
27. William Plowden, e Motor Car and Politics in Britain 1896–1970 (London: e
Bodley Head, 1971), 7; Anthony Bird, Roads and Vehicles (London: Arrow Books,
1969), 53 and 64.
28. Philip P. Mason, “The League of American Wheelmen and the Good-roads
Movement, 1880–1905” (Ph.D. esis, University of Michigan, 1957); D. Prick Mihoy,
“Rough Road Cyclists Display Political Power. e League of American Wheelmen in
the Good Roads Movement as Reported by e New York Times, 1880–1900,”North
American Society for Sport History. Proceedings and Newsletter (1989).
29. Burkhard Horn, “Vom Niedergang eines Massenverkehrsmittels. Zur Geschichte
der Städlichen Radverkehrsplanung” (Diplomarbeit Gesamthochschule Kassel,
1990), 16–29; Volker Briese, “From Cycling Lanes to Compulsatory Bike Path:
Bicycle Path Construction in Germany, 1897–1940,” in Proceedings of the 5th
International Cycle History Conference (San Francisco: Bicycle Books, 1994), 123–8,
here: 124–6.
30. Gijs Mom, “Road Building in e Netherlands, 1810–1980,” in Road History:
Planning, Building and Use, eds. Gijs Mom and Laurent Tissot (Neuchatel:
Editions Alphil, 2007), 33–62; Frank C.A. Veraart, “Reis in de tijd: etspaden, van
gerieijke paden tot etsbeleid,”Verkeerskunde 60 no. 5 (2009): 21–6, here: 22.
31. Bosworth, “Touring Club Italiano.”
32. Veraart, “Geschiedenis van de ets,” 88–90; Ebert, Radelnde Nationen, 378–90.
33. German cyclists nanced the rst lanes in Bremen, Hamburg, Hannover, Lübeck,
and Magdeburg. In Bremen, the two-way middle-of-the road sections were paved
with coal cinders or copper dross, but transferred to road sides in the 1910s.
(Briese, “Cycling Lanes,” 124).
Ruth Oldenziel and Adri Albert de la Bruhèze
46 • © Transfers • Volume 1 Issue 2 • Summer 2011
34 Peters, Time, Innovation and Mobilities, 130–1; Kreuzer, “Historische
Verkehrsutopien,” 260–6, 271, 280; Bonham and Cox, “e Disruptive Traveller?”
44–5. In Stedebouw en burgerlijke vrijheid. De contrasterende carrières van zes Europese
hoofdsteden (Bussum: Uitgeverij THOTH, 2001), Michiel Wagenaar describes Paris,
Brussels, Rome, Budapest, London, and Amsterdam between 1850 and 1914.
35 Regionplan för Stockholm med omnejd, huvud sakligen anseende förortsomrädet
(Stockholm: Stockholmsförorternas regionplaneförbund, 1936), 149, cited in
Martin Emanuel, “Planning the Urban Bicyclist in Stockholm, 1930–1970,”
forthcoming in Journal of Transport History.
36 “Staten-Generaal. Tweede Kamer. Vergadering van Donderdag 16 October.
Tariefwet,”Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant (17 October 1924); “Staten Generaal.
Eerste Kamer. Vergadering 23 dec. Belastingonderwerpen,” Nieuwe Rotterdamsche
Courant, 23 December 1926.
37 Charles A. Gulick Jr, “Vienna Taxes since 1918,” Political Science Quarterly 53 no.
4 (1938): 533–56, here: 552.
38 Volker Briese, “Radwegebau vor dem Zweiten Weltkrieg: Zurück in die Zukunft,”
RadMarkt 5 (1993): 50–62; Horn, “Niedergang,” 79, 100; Kurt Möser, “Motorization of
German Societies in East and West” and Maria R. Zezina, “e Introduction of Motor
Vehicles on a Mass Scale in the USSR: From Idea to Implementation,” both in Towards
Mobility: Varieties of Automobilism in East and West, eds. Corinna Kuhr-Korolev
and Dirk Schlinkert (Wolfsburg: Volkswagen AG, 2009), respectively 55–72 and
43–54, here: 43–8.
39. Bruhèze and Veraart, Fietsverkeer, 186–9.
40 Pye, Fellowship; David Prynn, “e Clarion Clubs, Rambling and the Holiday
Associations in Britain since the 1890s,” Journal of Contemporary History 11 no.
2/3 (1976): 65–77; Ruediger Rabenstein, “e History of German Workers’ Cycling
Association, Solidarity,” Cycle History 11: Proceedings of the 11th International Cycle
History Conference (San Francisco: Van der Plas Publications, 2001), 160–8; Briese,
“Radwegebau” and “Bicycle Lane,” 125; Aage Homann, “Arbejderidraettens
Forhold til Socialdemokratiet ca. 1880–ca. 1925,” Arbejderhistorie 1 (2008):
96–115; Pivato, “e Bicycle.”
41. W. Baneld, Accidents (pedal cyclists), HC debates, 28 February 1935, vol. 298,
cc 1281–2; Sir W. Sugden, Road Trac Acts, HC debates 24 May 1935, vol. 302 cc
703–39. We thank Peter Cox for these references.
42 Ary Blonk and Jan Pieter Kruyt, De besteding van de vrije tijd door Nederlandsche
arbeiders (Amsterdam: Nutsuitgeverij, 1936), 59–63, 94–106; Johan Adolf Leerink,
De verkeersveiligheid op den weg. Een juridische, sociologische en verkeerstechnische
studie (Alphen aan de Rijn: Samson, 1938), 138–43, 234–40, 632–37, 660–2; Samuel
Josua Embden, Amsterdam’s toekomstige gedaante (Amsterdam: Van Munster,
1931); David Kouwenaar, “125 jaar verkeerspolitie,” Ons Amsterdam, 38 no. 2 (1951).
43. Mom, “Roads without Rails.” See also: David Edgerton, e Shock of the Old:
Technology and Global History since 1900 (London: Prole Books, 2006).
44. Letter, Mayor of Antwerp to the Director of the (National) Service of Road Trac,
Wielrijders 1929–1942, Stadsarchief Antwerpen, no. 19477.
45 Briese, “Cycling Lanes,” 124.
46 Bruhèze and Veraart, Fietsverkeer, 133–5.
47. National Cycling Archive, CTC Minutes, National Committee on Cycling, 28 August
1938; Memorandum Stating the National Committee’s View on the T.A.C. Report;
National Cycling Archive, “An Amazing Memorandum,” Bicycling News, 15 April
Bicycle Infrastructures in Western European Cities
© Transfers • Volume 1 Issue 2 • Summer 2011 • 47
1937; William Oakley, Winged Wheel: e History of the First Hundred Years of the
Cyclists’ Touring Club (Goldaming: CTC, 1977); Bruhèze and Veraart, Fietsverkeer,
48. Bruhèze and Veraart, Fietsverkeer, 133–5.
49. Carl Henneking, Der Radfahrverkehr: Seine Wirtschaiche Bedeutung und die Anlage
von Radfahrwegen (Magdeburg, 1927); Hans Joachim Schacht, Der Radwegebau in
Deutschland (Halle: Schriften des Seminars fuer Verkehrswesen and der Martin-
Luther-Unversität Halle-Wittenberg, 1937); Horn, “Niedergang,” 57–63, 87–109;
Volker Briese, “Opium für Radfahrer,” Radfahren 1 (1994), 36-4, idem, “Cycling
Lanes,” 126, and “Radwegebau.”
50. “Algemeen Uitbreidingsplan van Amsterdam. Nota van toelichting,” (Amsterdam,
1985 [1935]), 153; Kouwenaar, “125 jaar verkeerspolitie”; Wim Nelissen and Hendrik
Schmal, “Van railverbinding tot ringweg. Honderd jaar verkeer in Amsterdam,” in
Wonen, Werken en Verkeer in Amsterdam, 1880–1980, ed. Gerrit Adriaan de Bruyne
(Amsterdam: Vrije Universiteit, 1980); Bruhèze and Veraart, Fietsverkeer, 66.
51. Cornelis van Eesteren, De functionele stad (Amsterdam: De 8 en opbouw, 1935);
Vincent van Rossem, Het Algemene Uitbreidingsplan van Amsterdam: Geschiedenis
en ontwerp (Rotterdam: NAi Uitgevers, 1994); Eric Mumford, e CIAM Discourse
on Urbanism, 1928–1960 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000); Kees Somer, e
Functional City: e CIAM and Cornelis van Eesteren, 1928–1960. (Rotterdam: NAi
Uitgevers, 2007), chapters 4 and 5; Eric Mumford, Dening Urban Design: CIAM
Architects and the Formation of a Discipline, 1937–1969 (New Haven, CT: Yale
University, 2009), chapter 3.
52. Ruth Oldenziel and Adri A. de la Bruhèze, “eorizing the Mediation Junction
for Technology and Consumption,” in Manufacturing Technology, Manufacturing
Consumers, ed. Adri A. de la Bruhèze and Ruth Oldenziel (Amsterdam: Aksant,
2009), 9–40, here: 21–2, 31–2.
53. Hans Bernard Reichow, die autogerechte stadt (Ravensburg: Otto Maier Verlag,
1959), 34.
54. Horn, “Niedergang,” 121–6, 134–70; Per Lundin, “Mediators of Modernity:
Planning Experts and the Making of the ‘Car-friendly’ City in Europe,” in Urban
Machinery: Inside Modern European Cities, eds. Mikael Hård and omas J. Misa
(Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008), 257–80.
55. Helge Berglund, “Vilka praktiska lärdomar kann vi i Sverige draga urstads- och
trakplaneringen i U.S.A.?” in: Bilstaden, ed. Uno Åhrén (Stockholm: Royal
Institute of Technology 1961), 9–16 as cited in Emanuel, “Planning.”
56 Horn, “Niedergang,” 120–1; Adri A. de la Bruhèze and Frank C.A. Veraart,
“Fietsen en verkeersbeleid. Het etsgebruik in negen West-Europese steden in
de twintigste eeuw,” NEHA-jaarboek 62 (1999): 138–70, here: 157–70.
57 Oakley, Winged Wheel; Rowland Nicolas, City of Manchester Plan (Norwich:
Jarrod & Sons, 1945).
58. Mike Hudson, e Bicycle Planning Book (London: Open Books, 1978), 2; Frank
Hendriks, Beleid, Cultuur en Instituties. Het verhaal van 2 steden (Leiden:DSWO
Press, 1996), 136, 138.
59. “De Paria’s van de weg,” Editorial comment in Beige-en-Bruin. Maandelijks
orgaan van de Antwerpse Wielerunie (February 1955).
60. Ton Welleman, e Dutch Bicycle Master Plan: Description and Evaluation in
a Historical Context (Den Haag: Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat, 1999);
Kouwenaar, “125 jaar verkeerspolitie”; Nelissen and Schmal, “Van railverbinding
Ruth Oldenziel and Adri Albert de la Bruhèze
48 • © Transfers • Volume 1 Issue 2 • Summer 2011
tot ringweg”; Jens Norgaard, Cyklism, Bilisme & Trakkens (Kopenhagen: Politik- en
sociologisk magisterafhandlung, 1981). Bruhèze and Veraart, “Fietsgebruik,” 157–9.
61. Bruhèze and Veraart, Fietsverkeer; Norgaard, Cyklism; Stadingeniorens Direktorat
Koebenhavn, Skitse til en Generalplan (Koebenhavn: Stadingeniorens Direktorat,
1954); Heinz Lauenroth and Georg Barke, Hannover. Schritt in die Zukunft
(Hannover: Städtischen Presseamt Hannover, 1956).
62. Steen Eileen Rasmussen, Greater Copenhagen Planning Status (Copenhagen:
Copenhagen Regional Planning Committee, 1952); Johann Karl Rippel, Ein
Integriertes Nahverkehrsnetz für wachsende Großstädte am Beispiel der Stadt
Hannover (Hannover: Stadarchiv, 1971); Klaus Scheelhaase, “20 Jahre Stadtbahnbau
und die Folgen in Hannover,” Der Nahverkehr. Zeitschrift für Verkehr in Stadt und
Region no. 3 (1986); 8-12 Nicolas, City of Manchester Plan; Gemeente Amsterdam,
Analyse van het verkeer in Amsterdam. Verslag van het verkeersonderzoek gedurende
de period 1960–1968 (Amsterdam: Gemeente Amsterdam, 1968).
63. Berglund, Vilka praktiska lärdomar, 9–16 as cited in Emanuel, “Planning.”
64. Letter from Baudepartement-Stadtplanung to Tiefbauamt, 3 March 1958 (Staatsarchiv
des Kantons Basel-Stadt, BD-Reg 1 A 601-2-1, Radfahrwege 1936–1962).
65 In some (Southern) Dutch cities, existing bicycle lanes were abolished to create
car parking space (Bruhèze and Veraart, Fietsverkeer, 109–10).
66. Zachary Mooradian Furness, One Less Car: Bicycling and the Politics of
Automobility (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010), 56.
67. According to Austrian trac specialist Herman Knoacher, the expected car
mobility growth and preoccupation with managing speed were key to urban
traffic planning until the 1990s: “Die Bedeuting der Verkehrsplanung für
die Stadtentwicklung im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert,” in Stadt. Strom-Strasse-
Schiene. Die Bedeutung des Verkehrs für die Genese der mitteleuropäischen
Städtelandschaft, ed. A. Niederstätter (Linz: Österreichischen Arbeidskreis für
Stadtgeschichtsforschung, 2001), 307–23, here: 312.
68. Verkeerspolitie Stad Antwerpen, Jaarrapport 1981 (Antwerpen, 1982).
69. C. Oberer-Kundert, “Die Massenmotorisierung im Kanton Basel-Landschaft,”
(Liestal: Forschungsstelle Baselbieter Geschichte, 1991); Bruhèze and Veraart,
Fietsverkeer, 175–80.
70. M. Hillman, Children Transport and the Quality of Life (London: PSI Publishers,
1993), 9, 13; Dave Horton, “Fear of Cycling,” in Cycling and Society, eds. Dave
Horton, Paul Rosen, and Peter Cox (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2007): 133–52.
71. Pucher and Buehler, “Frontiers of Cycling” and idem, “Lessons from the
Netherlands, Denmark and Germany.”
72. Bruhèze and Veraart, Fietsverkeer, 67–75.
73. Knut Boge, “Votes Count but the Number of Seats Decide: A Comparative Historical
Case Study of 20th Century Danish, Swedish and Norwegian Road Policy” (Ph.D.
diss., University of Oslo, 2006), 80; Kai Lemberg, Alli’vel så elsker vi byen: København
og regionen gennem 100 år. [But Still We Love the City: Copenhagen and the Region
during 100 Years] (Copenhagen: Arkitektens forlag, 1985), 122–4.
74. Bruhèze and Veraart, Fietsverkeer, 74–5; 111–4.
75. Delft Architectural Studies on Housing, e Woonerf Revisited (Rotterdam: Nai
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76. Jan Ploeger, “Designing for Cycling: e New Dutch Design Manual,” in e
Greening of Urban Transport: Planning for Walking and Cycling in Western Cities,
ed. Rodney Tolley (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 1997): 397–402.
Bicycle Infrastructures in Western European Cities
© Transfers • Volume 1 Issue 2 • Summer 2011 • 49
77. Jos Lammers, Cities Make Room for Cyclists: Examples from Towns in the Netherlands,
Denmark, Germany and Switzerland (Den Haag: Ministry of Transport, Public
Works and Water Management, 1995); Jan Hartman, “e Delft Bicycle Network
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in Western Cities, ed. Rodney Tolley (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 1997), 193–200.
78. European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT), National Policies to
Promote Cycling (Paris: OECD, 2005), 16–19.
Author Biographies
Ruth Oldenziel is professor of American and European history of
technology at the Eindhoven University of Technology. She received
her Ph.D. from Yale University in American History. Her publications
includebooks and articles in the areaof American, gender and technology
studies: Cold War Kitchen(2009) with Karin Zachmann;Manufacturing
Technology, Manufacturing Consumers: The Making of Dutch Consumer
Society (2009) with Adri de la Bruhèze; Gender and Technology: A Reader
(2003) with Nina Lerman and Arwen Mohun; Crossing Boundaries,
Building Bridges (2000) with Annie Canel and Karin Zachmann; Making
Technology Masculine: Men, Women and Modern Machines in America,
1870–1945 (1999). Currently, she is working with Mikael Hård (TU
Darmstadt) on a monograph on European Users of Technology in the
American Century (Palgrave 2013). E-mail:
Adri Albert de la Bruhèze is assistant professor of History of
Technology at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. He has
published on the history of radioactive waste management in the U.S.,
the history of bicycle use in Europe, food and nutrition history in the
Netherlands, Dutch consumer society, the history of technology in
twentieth-century Netherlands, and transnational European tourism
regimes. His most recent publications include Techniek in Nederland
in de Twintigste Eeuw [Technology in the Netherlands in the Twentieth
Century], 7 Vols. (1998–2003) with Johan Schot, Harry Lintsen and
Arie Rip, and Manufacturing Technology, Manufacturing Consumers:
The Making of Dutch Consumer Society (2009) with Ruth Oldenziel.
... The technologies that remain viable in a low-energy world can be expected to create new configurations of social and physical space. And, as documented by Kidder (2009), Oldenziel and de la Bruhèze (2011), and others, new configurations of space loop back into the people who traverse that space, transforming attitudes and behaviors which further alter the built environment [41,42]. One can imagine, for example, suburbs centered on bicycle transportation, because no other mode can effectively reach city centers from outlying residential communities. ...
Full-text available
After the Anthropocene, human settlements will likely have less available energy to move people and things. This paper considers the feasibility of five modes of transportation under two energy-constrained scenarios. It analyzes the effects transportation mode choice is likely to have on the size of post-Anthropocene human settlements, as well as the role speed and energy play in such considerations. I find that cars, including battery-electric cars, are not feasible under a highly energy-constrained scenario, that buses, metros, and walking are feasible but will limit human settlement size, and that cycling is likely the only mode of transportation that would make suburbs possible in an energy-constrained post-Anthropocene scenario.
... Na Europa, como exemplo comparativo, a crise energética dessa década, apoiada por uma nova visão, que vinha surgindo desde o final da década de 1960, baseada em uma nova "consciência ambiental, um novo entendimento que cidades regidas por carros causam mais problemas do que soluções" (Oldenziel & de la Bruhèze, 2011, p. 40) 7 , e reforçada pela crise econômica da década subsequente, levou algumas cidades europeias a resgatarem a bicicleta como modo de transporte e, especialmente, como cultura. Esse processo se mostrou longo e difícil, tendo em vista a exclusão desse modal da política urbana dessas cidades nas décadas antecedentes (Oldenziel & de la Bruhèze, 2011 Tradução nossa do original: "environmental awareness, a new understanding that car-governed cities caused more problems than they solved" quantidade de vagas a serem oferecidas por cada empreendimento é baseada no tipo de uso 8 e calculada a partir da área do imóvel 9 . ...
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No Brasil e em São Paulo, as políticas públicas de mobilidade urbana foram historicamente orientadas para promover a fluidez dos automóveis. A partir do século XXI, particularmente na segunda década, o debate sobre mobilidade se desloca, passando a focar nas pessoas, ao invés de veículos, e na promoção de modos ativos. Esta pesquisa se insere nesse contexto, analisando o instrumento de controle de impacto no sistema de circulação urbana denominado Polos Geradores de Tráfego. A partir de novos conceitos referenciais para mobilidade urbana, discutimos a evolução do marco regulatório referencial para esse instrumento. Analisamos, então, como ele tem sido aplicado pela Companhia de Engenharia de Tráfego, através de uma ampla amostra desses empreendimentos e do estudo de caso comparativo entre dois shopping centers em São Paulo. Os resultados indicam que o instrumento tratado aqui e sua aplicação apresentam baixa aderência às condições territoriais, levando a uma abordagem limitada dos elementos de produção e atração de viagens. Com esta pesquisa, esperamos contribuir para o debate atual sobre a produção de cidades mais sustentáveis e mais acessíveis espacial e socialmente. In Brazil and in São Paulo, the public policies concerning urban mobility have been historically oriented to promote the traffic flow for automobile. In the beginning of the XXI century, and particularly on its second decade, the debate about mobility started to focus on people, rather than vehicles, and on the promotion of active modes. In this context, this research analyzes the instrument used to control the impact on the circulation system, dubbed Traffic Generating Poles. Based on new references for mobility policies, we discuss the evolution of the regulatory framework for this instrument. We analyze how it has been implemented by the Traffic Engineering Company, through a large sample of these buildings and a case study comparing two shopping centers in São Paulo. The results indicate that the instrument and its implementation present a low adherence to the conditions of the territory, leading to a limited approach on the elements of production and attraction of trips. With this research, we hope to contribute to the current debate on the production of cities that are more accessible both spatially and socially, and more environmentally friendly.
Speed e-bikes are electrically assisted pedal cycles with a speed of up to 45 km/h. Because of their high speed, these vehicles are not classified as bicycles in the European Union. However, their external aspect and their mode of propulsion—the user needs to pedal for the electric assistance to work—make them part of the symbolic universe of bicycles. This raises the following question: should these vehicles ride on cycle lanes, or on the road? The authors argue that answering this question implies understanding both how these vehicles are used, and how speed e-bike users perceive themselves. How do users experience their high-velocity bikes? Using qualitative interviews with speed e-bike users in France, Belgium, and Switzerland, this research offers novel data on the actual usage of this emerging mode of transport and what it represents symbolically to users. Results show that speed e-bike users consider themselves as cyclists and value the opportunity to ride on cycle lanes, whether this is allowed or not. However, they self-regulate their positioning on the road depending on their actual speed. When they want to accelerate, speed e-bike users tend to leave bike lanes to ensure their own safety as well as that of other cyclists. These results allow a case to be made for a speed-based regulation according to which riders could use different segments of the public space alternatively depending on their actual speed at a given moment.
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This article argues that mopeds played an ambivalent but ultimately positive role in the long-term success of Dutch cycling. Unlike in many other countries, Dutch cycling levels dropped but remained significant throughout the 1950s and 1960s, partly because cycling infrastructure continued to be constructed. One underexplored factor explaining this is the role of mopeds in the 1950s. The Netherlands constructed a significant network of cycle paths before the 1950s. When mopeds became popular, the existence of this network raised the question of where they should ride. Engineers and politicians classified mopeds as bicycles, assigning them to the cycle path. As a result, engineers decided to build more and wider cycle paths. Despite the danger and discomfort of sharing cycling paths, cyclists therefore also benefited in the long run from the decision to reframe cycle paths as cycle-and-moped paths.
What if cycling infrastructure such as nationwide bikeways becomes part of an engineering project that is an antithesis of sustainability? How do cyclists reconcile between their pride in cycling as a healthy way of appreciating nature and the environmental destruction observed along their cycling paths? This paper complicates the familiar characterization of cycling as easily compatible with sustainability agenda by examining South Korean cyclists’ response to the construction of the Four Rivers Bikeway. The Bikeway was planned as a part of the Four Rivers Restoration Project, the largest and most controversial environmental engineering work in the nation’s history. Whereas environmental groups, academics, and concerned citizens strongly opposed the so-called restoration project for its potentially devastating impact on the rivers’ ecosystem, many cyclists welcomed and then enjoyed the nationwide network of cycling paths built along the rivers. In doing so, the cyclists came to consider the new bicycle haven as a space insulated from broader environmental politics within which their riding was made possible. The healthy, nature-loving cyclists on the Four Rivers Bikeway manifested a peculiar kind of “cycling citizenship” – “the links people make between cycling and the worlds outside the bicycle” – that endorsed the state’s investment in cycling infrastructure while evading the question of the state’s responsibility for environmental destruction. This paper suggests that the future sustainability of cycling may not be considered separately from the broader concerns for environmental sustainability and the inevitable political debates around it.
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Contemporary consumption patterns, embedded in profit-maximizing economic systems, are driving a worsening socio-ecological crisis, in particular through the escalating production and consumption of goods with high material and/or energy intensity. Establishing minimum and maximum standards of consumption (or "consumption corridors") has been suggested as a way to address this crisis. Consumption corridors provide the normative basis for sustainable consumption, that is, enough consumption for individuals to satisfy needs, but not too much to collectively surpass environmental limits. Current consumption patterns (especially in the global North) do not yet fall within consumption corridors, and standards are not fixed over time. Consumption is socially constructed and can escalate due to socioeconomic , technological, or infrastructural influences. In this article, we propose a framework to understand such escalating trends. This approach can be used as a tool for comprehending how consumption evolves over time, as well as for identifying the most effective leverage points to intervene and prevent escalation from happening in the first place. We build on theories of human-need satisfaction and combine these conceptual understandings with insights from research on socio-technical provisioning systems, sociological approaches to consumption, and perspectives on infrastructure lock-in. We illustrate our framework by systemically considering escalation for a specific technological product-the private car.
Walking is a neglected topic in the history of transport and mobility in cities. The four articles in this special section demonstrate the importance of travel on foot in nineteenth- and twentieth-century cities in four different countries, and reveal the ways in which pedestrian mobility has persisted despite the development of a car-dominated society. Together they provide important new evidence on a neglected topic and hopefully pave the way for further research on this theme.
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This article presents six detailed case studies of cycling in the Netherlands (Amsterdam and Groningen), Denmark (Copenhagen and Odense), and Germany (Berlin and Muenster). Except for Berlin, they represent the very best in coordinated policies and programs to make cycling safe, convenient, and attractive. Not only are cycling levels extraordinarily high in these cities, but virtually everyone cycles: women as well as men, the old and the young, the rich and the poor. Moreover, they cycle for a wide range of daily, practical trips purposes and not mainly for recreation. Berlin is a special case. It does not even approach the five other cities in their cycling orientation. Nevertheless, its recent measures to encourage cycling have achieved an impressive bike share of trips for such a large city, higher than any other European city of that size. Thus, all six of the bicycling case study cities examined in this article truly are at the frontiers of cycling. They have many lessons to offer other cities in the Western World about the best ways to encourage more cycling.
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One of the most striking features of the growth of "science studies" in recent years has been the separation of science from technology. Sociological studies of new knowledge in science abound, as do studies of technological innovation, but thus far there has been little attempt to bring such bodies of work together.1 It may well be the case that science and technology are essentially different and that different approaches to their study are warranted. However, until the attempt to treat them within the same analytical endeavor has been undertaken, we cannot be sure of this. It is the contention of this chapter that the study of science and the study of technology should, and indeed can, benefit from each other. In particular we argue that the social constructivist view that is prevalent within the sociology of science and also emerging within the sociology of technology provides a useful starting paint. We set out the constitutive questions that such a unified social constructivist approach must address analytically and empirically. This chapter falls into three main sections. In the first part we outline various strands of argumentation and review bodies of literature that we consider to be relevant to our goals. We then discuss the two specific approaches from which our integrated viewpoint has developed: the "Empirical Programme of Relativism" (Collins 1981d) and a social constructivist approach to the study of technology (Bijker et al. 1984). In the third part we bring these two approaches together and give some empirical examples. We conclude by summarizing our provisional findings and by indicating the directions in which we believe the program can most usefully be pursued. © 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All rights reserved.
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
From the traditional viewpoint, Milton Keynes has the ultimate 'worst' and 'best' for cyclists. On the one hand is a high-speed grid-road network, designed solely around the needs of motor vehicles and with large roundabouts at all principal junctions. On the other an extensive, purpose-built cycle-path network, segregated for the greater part from fast traffic and constructed with few limitations of space or finance. If this is not the most perfect scenario for demonstrating how cycle facilities can remove the deterrents to cycling and achieve big gains in safety, then what is? But the reality of Milton Keynes over two decades shows a different story, and one that could be no less valuable in achieving a better understanding of what really is needed to encourage cycling. Far from leading to a popularist renaissance for cycling, there is much to suggest that the Redway network has suppressed cycle use, and lowered the public's expectations of cycling as a mode of transport. The main benefit of the Redways has been to give a limited amount of additional freedom to children (particularly in the 6 to 15 years age group), and to those who cycle involuntarily but fear traffic. This freedom is, however, without a commensurate improvement to safety. There is much to suggest that use of the paths has inhibited the skills acquisition that is essential to cycle safely and more widely. Indeed, the most alarming experience of the Redways is their accident record. Far from realising gains in safety, they have proved over many years to be consistently less safe than even the 'worst-case' grid roads for adult cyclists of average competence. This is not an accolade for the grid roads, for their safety performance is not good in relation to lower-speed roads of more traditional design. But the segregated Redways have proved to be worse.
The relationship between the cyclist and the use of roadways and other spaces allocated for travel has a contested history. Pro-cycling advocates have argued from a number of positions for the rights of cyclists to use road space and changes in the location of responsibility for road safety. This paper examineshow the widespread introduction of segregated cycle facilities in recent years, while having undoubted benefits can also be seen to raise significant problems for cycling in the context of broader travel behaviours. Bonham's (2006) exploration of the manner in which travel systems and patterns act as disciplinary regimes can be extended to further develop an understanding of the impact of segregated cycle facilities. Drawing on the insights of Michel Foucault, we have examined texts on cycleways in the United Kingdom and Australia, historical and contemporary, for the way in which cyclists are constituted and positioned. The findings are complex. Overall, recent texts produced within the health sciences begin to normalise cycling, while those produced within the field of transport position cyclists as disruptive or deviant travellers - albeit in different ways and with different outcomes depending on the broader context. In each case, the cycleway becomes a special space that enables and constrains cycling, while cycle practices are constituted as slow and disorderly, leisurely, often social and always requiring a 'quiet' (both in terms of traffic and noise) context. We conclude that the cycleway, by removing cyclists from road space, ultimately operates to maintain rather than challenge existing travel norms. We argue the consequences of this segregation may be profoundly at odds with the potential of cycling as a core component of sustainable mobility.
This dissertation about Danish, Swedish and Norwegian 20th century road policy is an attempt of elucidating some puzzles: Why did Norwegian authorities pursue a road policy contrary to most other West European industrialized countries? Why were highly noticeable congestion, accident and environmental problems within and near Norway’s major population clusters overlooked or ignored for decades? Denmark and Sweden had almost completed their investments in national trunk road and motorway systems in 2006, while Norway still lacks modern trunk roads and a national motorway system. Denmark, Sweden and Norway were all among the exclusive group of countries that enjoyed modern economic growth from the second half of the 19th century. Norway was one of the world’s wealthiest countries in 2006 measured in GDP per capita. Lack of economic leverage could thus not explain Norway’s current lack of modern trunk roads and motorways. This is a historical comparative case study based on a most similar systems design. The case study’s analytical model was not formal but a heuristic device with one dependent variable, three intervening variables and a number of background variables. The intervening variables or intermediate institutions are denoted as the road polity. The road polity consists usually of legislature, executive and road administration. The dependent variable is the outcome of the policy processes or the road policy, which is materialized in the high-level road system; i.e. trunk roads and motorways. There are plenty of opportunities for variations in the road polities and background variables during time and across countries, which led to development of different national political economies. Different political economies may in turn explain some of the variations in the dependent variable, Denmark, Sweden and Norway’s road policies. The Danish, Swedish and Norwegian cases were examined during four time periods, prior to 1945, 1945-1959, 1960-1981 and from 1981 until approximately 2005. The theoretical and analytical framework is based on historical institutionalism supplemented with theories about collective goods, distributions of burdens and benefits and institutional change and development. The theoretical discussions led to development of four working hypotheses: The main hypothesis or benchmark was roads perceived as national collective goods with road policy and road construction governed by politicians pursuing the common good. The second hypothesis was roads perceived as local collective or private goods with road policy and road construction governed by the constituencies’ resource struggles. The third hypothesis was roads perceived as local collective or private goods with road policy and road construction governed by the political parties’ rivalry. The final hypothesis was road policy and road construction governed by path dependence. A number of implications were derived from each hypothesis, and tested empirically against the evidence in the Danish, Swedish and Norwegian cases. What did the testing of the four hypotheses reveal? The findings concerning the main hypothesis or benchmark, roads perceived as national collective goods, were partly ambiguous in Denmark prior to 1945 and clearly ambiguous in Sweden and Norway prior to 1945. The findings in Denmark and Sweden post 1945 significantly strengthened this hypothesis. The findings in the Norwegian were clearly ambiguous until the 1980s when a fundamental road policy shift took place, after the Labor Party accepted mass motoring. Examination of the Norwegian case revealed both significantly delayed and less construction of roads with national collective good characteristics compared to the Denmark and Sweden. Road policy and road construction were closely integrated with Danish and Swedish post World War Two trade and industry policies, but deliberately decoupled from Norwegian trade and industry policy by the Labor Party executive that came to power in 1945, even if the Labor Party executive had emphasized road policy and road construction prior to the German invasion in 1940. The Danish and Norwegian cases strengthened the second hypothesis about roads perceived as local collective or private goods with road policy and road construction governed by the constituencies’ resource struggles. The Danish case strengthened this hypothesis until the 1953 constitutional reform replaced the bicameral system with a unicameral system and an election system based on one person – one vote. However, Denmark’s 1970 county and constituency structure reform gradually paved the way for new resource struggles between the constituencies. The Norwegian case significantly strengthened this hypothesis until the mid 1980s when road policy and road construction became far less contested, and the most acute resource allocation conflicts were mitigated through introduction of common turnpike financing rather than reallocation of the tax financed road investments. The 1989 election system reform improved also somewhat the most populated Norwegian constituencies’ political representation. Detailed examination of the Swedish case weakened this second hypothesis in all four time periods studied, because the bicameral system which governed Swedish policy for better or worse from 1867 until the 1970 election instituted a tradition for transcending parochialism and local egoism when allocating publicly financed infrastructure investments. The Danish case significantly strengthened the third hypothesis about roads perceived as local collective or private goods with road policy and road construction governed by the political parties’ rivalry, particularly after introduction of the unicameral system in 1953. The Swedish case weakened this hypothesis until the second half of the 1960s and the 1970s, when the political parties started to use road policy and road construction to differentiate themselves from competing political parties. The Norwegian case strengthened this hypothesis prior to 1945 and between 1960 and 1980. The findings in the Norwegian case were somewhat ambiguous between 1945 and 1959, but this third hypothesis was clearly weakened by the Norwegian case after 1981 when road policy and road construction became far less contested after most political parties recognized mass motoring. The final hypothesis about road policy and road construction governed by path dependence was clearly strengthened by all three cases, despite significant institutional differences and variations in Denmark, Sweden and Norway during time. The Danish case revealed that leading civil servants established a tradition for major publicly financed road investments beneficial for the business community and Denmark Inc. already from the second half of the 18th century. The Swedish case revealed similarly a tradition for publicly financed road investments governed by an autonomous State bureaucracy permeated by norms about State reason and efficient resource allocation since the interwar years. The Norwegian case revealed a tradition for minuscule but often partly locally governed publicly financed road investments, where most of the investments were allocated in peripheral and rural constituencies. This development parth was established in the 19th century by farmer legislators opposing the 1814-1884 civil servants’ regime, and instituted by the Liberal Party after introduction of parliamentary rule in 1884. The 1814 Constitution, legislator rule, national election systems not based on the principle one person – one vote and an exceptionally strong Ministry of Finance maintained this development path. The Norwegian Ministry of Finance’s economists has largely since 1945 overlooked roads and other transport and communication infrastructures’ importance for future economic growth, and considered usually roads and other transport and communication infrastructures as expenses rather than investments. The Danish and Swedish authorities prioritized investments in national collective goods such as trunk roads and motorways during the 1980s and 1990s’ State economic problems. The Norwegian authorities that never struggled with similar State economic problems, because of the oil revenues, prioritized publicly financed private goods rather than investments in national collective goods such as trunk roads and motorways. So what? What are the practical and theoretical implications from this study? Both a minister ruled road policy such as in Denmark and an expert ruled road policy such as in Sweden from 1944 until the early 1980s and an executive and industrialist ruled road policy such as in Sweden since the early 1980s safeguarded construction of modern and functional trunk road and motorway systems all across the countries. The Danish road policy underwent a fundamental reorientation after introduction of the unicameral system and an election system based on one person – one vote in 1953. The Norwegian case indicate that legislator rule together with election systems never based on the principle one person – one vote, a partly locally governed road administration and tight budget constraints for road investments paved the way for a road policy governed by a political rather than an economic and technocratic logic. The result was often pork barrel politics, rent seeking and construction of narrow-gauge local roads rather than a modern and functional trunk road and motorway system all across Norway. These three cases thus clearly illustrate how the constitution and election system affect the national political economy, because the constitution determines the rules of the game, while the election system largely determines the executive and legislators’ geographical allocation of publicly financed national and local collective goods such as roads. Votes count – but the number of seats decides.