Vélomobility - A critical analysis of planning and space

University dissertation from Lund University

Abstract: The purpose of this doctoral study is to bring a spatial dimension into the research on urban mobilities and connect the spatial dimension to the marginalisation of cyclists in urban space. This is been done by exploring the role of urban bicycling and transport planning. The theoretical frame of space, mobilities and power is used for analysing that role through case studies in two Scandinavian cities, Copenhagen and Stockholm. Urban bicycling is a good example of showing the relation between space and mobilities, since cyclists often suffer from marginalised space in cities around the world. The philosophical foundation of the thesis is in critical realism and critical theory. For background data, observations and document studies have been conducted in Stockholm and Copenhagen. The main data collection for this thesis was done both qualitatively, in the form of interviews with planners and politicians, and quantitatively, in the form of survey studies among the citizens of Copenhagen and Stockholm. The data is analysed with the help of the theoretical framework that builds on mobility studies, spatial theory by Lefebvre, and Harvey and power theories deriving mainly from Lukes’ three dimensions of power. The materialisation of power relations is analysed with the example of modern planning in Sweden and Denmark. Overall this thesis manages to show how cycling as a mode of transport is marginalised in urban space, and that urban space wars between cyclists and car drivers and among cyclists are fought in Copenhagen as well as in Stockholm. The conclusion is that different factors, such as the economic situations in Denmark and Sweden, have affected urban and transport planning and thus have created two very different transport systems, where cycling plays a large role (Copenhagen) and a smaller role (Stockholm). Nevertheless, this thesis shows that even in cities that are very good for cycling, like Copenhagen, the motorised modes of transport create many problems and are still dominating urban space.