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Constructing the cycling citizen: A critical analysis of policy imagery in Brisbane, Australia

Natalie Osborne and Grant-Smith, Deanna

Journal of Transport Geography, 2017, vol. 64, issue C, 44-53

Abstract: Cycling is often promoted as a low cost, accessible and virtuous strategy for solving many urban problems, including air pollution, congestion, climate change and the ‘obesity epidemic’. Yet the status of cycling as a quick and easy transport solution available to all is rarely problematised in policy documents. Focussing on cycling policy documents in sub-tropical Brisbane (Australia) we apply interpretive policy analysis to identify the ways policy representations of cycling and cyclists may work to exacerbate the marginality of certain groups by excluding them from representation. Through analysis of these policy documents, and reference to international research on cycling and the right to the city, this article sketches out the figure of the ‘Cycling Citizen’ constructed within them. The Cycling Citizen is characterised in these policy documents by a combination of actions (such as demonstrations of speed and skill), personal attributes (such as body-type, clothes and gender) and attitudes (particularly around virtue). We argue that the dominance of representations of MAMIL (middle-aged men in lycra) cyclists in the policy documents analysed may work to make cycling less accessible to those less likely to identify as MAMIL such as women, people of colour, people with lower incomes, and fat people, and this may effectively exclude them from cycling policy decisions, and negatively shape personal choices about cycling. We further argue that policy representations of cycling and cyclists matter because they have the potential to influence infrastructure and funding decisions which may have material consequences with respect to cycling mode share, equity and safety.

Keywords: Active transport; Policy; Cycling; Right to the City; Sustainable mobilities; MAMIL (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:eee:jotrge:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:44-53