2020 Cycling and Society Virtual Symposium

Transformative approaches for cycling in a changing world.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic the annual Cycling and Society symposium was a little different and instead of a physical meeting the CSRG committee and the Healthy Active Cities team at University of Salford hosted:

  • an online collection of concise and creative contributions – for participants and interested parties to read and watch at their leisure
  • series of webinars across 10th and 11th September 2020, discussing and reflecting on the online collection and featuring debates, interviews, discussants and Q&A.

Webinars were recorded and are provided below along with a short written overview of each session.

Session 1 – Cycling during and after Covid-19

Session 1 was chaired by Graeme Sherriff (University of Salford) and participated in by Margot Abord de Chatillon (LAET, University of Lyon), Dave du Feu (Spokes, the Lothian Cycle Campaign), Nigel Dynes (University of Cumbria), Jayne Rodgers (University of Chester) and Andreas Siantos (University of Liverpool).

Session 2 – Policies to boost cycling

Session 2 was chaired by Sam Hayes (University of Salford) and participated in by Jacqui Hicks, Paul Kelly (University of Edinburgh), Stefanie Ruf (TU Dresden), Angela van der Kloof (Mobycon/Radboud University) and Chris White (University of Chester).

The session began by thinking about possible positive examples of approaches (more than policy) to boost cycling, including creative outputs such as mark Ronson’s The Bike Song, https://t.co/5N7eAmC750?amp=1, e-bikes and communication of changes to space. This was followed by a discussion on the complexity of getting different groups and organisations involved, but also drawing on the idea of intersectionality, asking who are we boosting cycling for? This is related to Paul Kelly’s work attempting to offer a ‘menu’ of actions and some sense of what might work where.

International comparison featured in the discussion also, thinking through problems of always looking to places like The Netherlands as best practice which might not suit different contexts, recognising they have ‘blind spots’ in the understanding of who is cycling and who isn’t. But we identifying such examples as wonderful ways to show what’s possible. The session closed thinking about ‘behaviour change’ and the actions beyond cycling that are needed to enable behaviour change – for example beyond cycling to also think about changes to improve safety on our streets.

Session 3 – Cycling and local economies

Session 3 was chaired by Luke Blazejewski (University of Salford) and participated in by Georgia Corr (Ealing Council), Robbie Napper, Monash University, Claudio Sarmiento-Casas (University of Toronto) and Claire Stocks (Chorlton Bike Deliveries).

The session kicked off reflecting upon how infrastructure needs for cycling and the local economy might be different to infrastructure needs for recreational cycling and also how perceptions of cyclists on cargo bikes is often different to recreational cyclists. Potentially, participants discussed, as they gather more respect from motorists because cargo riders are “at work”.. This was followed with discussions of the design of cargo bikes and the role of this in their engagement practices – in Mexico, for example, cargo trikes are often used by street vendors to carry and sell things from, but the trike itself is very rarely cycled.

Within the session the changing relationship between cycling and the local economy was discussed due to COVID-19, with active travel figures rising significantly. As online shopping and technology became more essential in a lockdown world, ensuring vulnerable people can gain access to goods (and simultaneously helping distributors and businesses continue to trade) was supported through cargo bikes.

Session 4 – Cycling for All

Session 4 was chaired by Harrie Larrington-Spencer (University of Salford) and participated in by Esther Anaya-Boig (Imperial College London), Robert Egan, Hannah Konrad, Alejandro Manga Tinoco (Drexel University) and Nikki Pugh (Lancaster University).

Participants discussed of the importance of reflexivity and power relations within research, considering not only how perceptions and experiences of the researcher influence the research but also how the researcher is perceived by the communities within which they are working. Within this participants highlighted the important to make space for researchers who are not white, middle class, males and for such researchers as well as considering the burden of research engagement.

The discussion then progressed on to language and the importance of having discussions about preferred language usage with research participants- for example gendered terms. Participants reflected that the use of terminology which doesn’t ‘include’ participants can result in issues in participation and trust building and whilst participants may bring up such discussions, in other situations the researcher may need to bring it up.

The importance of creative methods for inclusion within participant recruitment and research was also considered, in order to be inclusive, accessible and diverse. Qualitative and creative methods – for example art practices, ride alongs – were considered particularly suitable and such . qualitative data can be used to challenge the status quo in policy making around cycling which tends to have preference for quantitively produced data.

Session 5 – Experiences of Cycling

Session 5 was chaired by Cosmin Popan (Manchester Metropolitan University) and participated in by Tom Fisher (University of Wollongong), Caroline Bartle (University of the West of England),
Aspa Paltoglou (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Nicholas Scott (SFU Vancouver).

Session 6 – Spaces for Cycling

Session 6 was chaired by Nick Davies (Glasgow Caledonian University), Janina Albrecht (Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach), Seamus Allison, (Nottingham Business School), Maximilian Hoor (Technische Universität Berlin and Reallabor Radbahn), Mitali Kedia (Monash University) and Lucy Marstrand-Taussig.

Session 7 – Transformative approaches for cycling in a changing world

The final session of the conference, chaired by Esther Anaya-Boig (Imperial College London), featured Peter Cox (Chester University), Isabelle Clement (Wheels for Wellbeing), Cristina Caimotto (University of Torino), Martin Key (Greater Manchester Combined Authority) and Nick Hubble (WalkRide GM) having a cross-themed discussion building upon the topics developed throughout the symposium.

And a few post-symposium reflections by participants: