Movement for Liveable London Street Talks - Judy Green 1st May 2012

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May 2012 Street Talks

Judy Green, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine: Identity and the city – what your choice of transport says about you

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Movement for Liveable London Street Talks - Judy Green 1st May 2012

  1. 1. Identity and the city: what does your choice of transport say about you? Judith Green LSHTM Transport & Health Group
  2. 2. Acknowledgements• This presentation draws on work of LSHTM’s Transport & Health group, including Rebecca Steinbach, Alasdair Jones, Phil Edwards, Anna Goodman• Funders include: NIHR Public Health Research (grant number 09/3001/13), NHS Camden, Transport for London• The views and opinions expressed in this talk are those of the presenter, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Health, other funders or colleagues.
  3. 3. AN EXAMPLE: CHANGING CULTURALCONNOTATIONS OF CYCLING
  4. 4. Ralph Glasser on riding to Oxford from GlasgowI wheeled the bike out of our flat on thethird, top floor of the Gorbals tenement, andleaned it against the iron stairhead railing… Iwould carry the bike down the winding stairsand ride away, further than I had evertravelled, to take up the scholarship …
  5. 5. I was glad it was in the dark, thesense of magic, of freedom, oftaking wing, heightened …R. Glasser ‘Gorbals Boy at Oxford’ 1990:48
  6. 6. I mean to be fair it doesmake me feel smug, myfriends joke that it’s verymiddle class and they jokethat it sort of fits in withthe lifestyle of gardening,listening to Radio 4, eatingorganic food and cycling … it makes me feel smugin the sense that I’m doing something that’s nothurting the environment, ‘oh I’m so good I’mcycling, I’m being fit and I’m not hurting theenvironment’… so yeah I do feel smug thinking,I’m cycling to work, I’m not going to get fat’(‘Charlotte’, London 2009)
  7. 7. [ I see] white men between the ages of25 and 35, and there aren’t that manywomen(Charlotte)
  8. 8. Per cent of people who made at least one trip by bicycle (London, 2005-7)Ethnicity* Men Women‘White’ 3.6 1.6‘Black’ 1.4 0.2‘Asian’ 0.9 0.0Other 2.3 0.5All 3.0 1.2 Source: Transport for London, LTDS 2005-7 *Aggregated from census self-report UK census categories
  9. 9. TRANSPORT CHOICES INFLUENCED BYAVAILABILITY AND ACCESSIBILITY
  10. 10. Percent of households with no car andNumber of trips per person per year, by income quintile(Source: National Travel Survey 2010, DfT) 1 2 3 4 5 Lowest Highest %with no car/van: 49 38 18 12 9 Trips per person by: Walking 267 205 195 199 185 Cycling 10 14 16 18 15 Car driver 223 321 426 491 550 Bus 111 90 61 51 29
  11. 11. Percent of households with no car andNumber of trips per person per year, by income quintile(Source: National Travel Survey 2010, DfT) 1 2 3 4 5 Lowest Highest %with no car/van: 49 38 18 12 9 Trips per person by: Walking 267 205 195 199 185 Cycling 10 14 16 18 15 Car driver 223 321 426 491 550 Bus 111 90 61 51 29
  12. 12. TRANSPORT CHOICES ALSOINFLUENCED BY CULTURAL MEANING
  13. 13. Black Londoners on the meaning of cycling• ‘So basically, it’s people can’t afford to drive that actually will cycle … I can recall even walking, for example, and having people from my community saying “Why are you walking?” (Lester)• ‘When you’ve made it, you buy a car not a bicycle‘ (Leanne)• ‘*people I do see on bikes+ won’t be in Lycra, haring across town to a meeting… They’d be guys on the little bikes, the fun bikes’ (Marvin)• ‘It’s not like the cultural thing for the Black minority people to be cycling’ (Nicole)
  14. 14. Where I come from, bikes are part of boys’gang culture, but not part of getting aroundIn *‘Mini-Amsterdam’ + you can see everymodel, every colour, it’s like saying ‘I’menvironmentally friendly, but I can afford topimp my bike’ (Carla)
  15. 15. ‘ Bike Porn’: comments on blog ‘That f***in stem is horrible…’ ‘Very well proportioned though, I wouldn’t have known it was a 650’ ‘stem is horrible, spacer stack both above and below stem, why is the head tube notSource: ‘Bike porn’ from Londonfixed gear and single speed longer are the horse framesforums not custom made?’http://www.lfgss.com/thread29-1136.html
  16. 16. GENDERED MEANINGS
  17. 17. What’s important about cycling?Independence, so I don’t know you’re nevergoing to be, well you can get a puncture but ifyou know how to change a puncture thenyou’re pretty independent and you don’t haveto rely on tubes running or buses not breakingdown or tube strikes or whatever. You don’thave to go anywhere the buses go so, it’sflexible, it’s transport from your origin to yourdestination (Hannah)
  18. 18. one of the girls in my office, herboyfriend is afraid of, he sort of ismoderately controlling and doesn’t wanther cycling because he’s worried abouther but there are two of us who do cyclein the office and we think it’s completelyridiculous and silly, but we’re also thesort of the kind of people who wouldn’tever let anyone tell us what to do’.(Julia, emphasis added)
  19. 19. Men on pleasures of cycle commuting: speed, enjoyment of risk• It’s a bit of adrenalin; it’s good for a moment… I won’t have people just cutting me up…I might consider myself a bit of an urban warrior on bike (Russ)• I think a lot of the time Im cutting cars up rather than the cars cutting me up. (William)• I generally cycle at or faster than the speed of the car, on the open road I’ll do 30mph on the flat and away from traffic lights I’m a lot faster than most! (Fred)
  20. 20. Women on the need to be ‘assertive’• I don’t think cycling is dangerous, I think that’s an excuse *not to cycle+ … I think it’s just about being assertive (Molly)• I try to be assertive when I’m cycling… I really try to be assertive and confident (Kelly)
  21. 21. Risks of cycling in London can be:• Welcomed – part of display of particular kinds of (usually masculine) identity• Managed – through careful deployment of assertive, independent (usually female) identity• Eliminated by not cycling – Risks are not only physically threatening, but also morally, through the ‘aggression’ needed to cope: ‘you can tell they are cycling commuters because you can see in their faces they’ve gone from feeling vulnerable to being aggressive to other people’ (Abigail)
  22. 22. Does anyone here cycle …?Shila: So if you’re using the bicycle, what about the children? How are you going to bring them to school? You have, ride the bicycle, and where are the kids? [all laugh] Where do you put them? So, that’s not a good idea!Deepa: And another thing is that, because everyone lives in a flat, and there’s not enough space, so where would you put your bike?Anjali: And it’s not useful for us because we, if we wear a jilbab, how are we going to ride a bike?
  23. 23. UNIVERSAL FARE EXEMPTIONS ANDTHE ‘NORMALISATION’ OF BUS TRAVEL
  24. 24. ‘Freedom passes’ and ‘Zip cards’• Freedom Pass available to all over 65: entitles user to free bus, tram, tube travel at all times• ‘Zip’: free travel for under 16s introduced in 2005; extended to under 18s in 2006• Scheme intended to: Help young people to continue stuyding, improve employment prospects and promote the use of public transport (TfL 2006)
  25. 25. Buses – summary of issues in literature• Research review: – buses used disproportionately by low income and older people – Disliked as ‘mode of last resort’ – Public buses seen as inconvenient, slow, dirty – Older people report loss of driving a significant blow to identity
  26. 26. Older people’s views in London ‘Take it away and there’d be blood on the streets’• Bus pass widely seen as huge benefit: – ‘lifeline’ to participation – ‘lifestyle’ for many of social interaction – contact with wide range of people ‘It’s a godsend… it’s very lonely where I am … I’d be lost without it, it’s the only thing that gets you around’ ‘It’s made a world of difference to me, or I’d be stuck indoors’• Few missed driving
  27. 27. Young people’s bus use• Young people often prefer to travel with friends• Zip made bus default travel option – because all can use it, all did• No stigma attached to bus use• See a range of other Londoners using busIt [Zip Card ]...makes you feel proud [to be a Londoner] because you’re at the front of everyone, because you’re the ones who have brought in these new schemes that are working and making your life easier...And also you have this mutual understanding of [being...] a Londoner, you’re the same as me now. there’s…this sense of community in this huge, huge [city.]
  28. 28. • I must admit I took my freedom pass out of its freedom pass holder [starts laughing] and put it onto something else!• I must confess that, because I do have trouble walking and do get very tired sometimes, I do use my car sometimes. But a lot of people can’t afford to do that, especially now, and Freedom Passes are becoming more and more important.
  29. 29. Travelling on ‘public’ transportdoes entail conflicts betweendifferent users – overentitlements to use space,seats, appropriate behaviour, asevidenced by campaigns toshape shared expectations
  30. 30. Implications for transport choices• The car’s symbolic associations with freedom and independence (as noted by Glasser) have been fractured in London• Cycling comes to represent the ‘new’ independence (for a few)• Public transport ‘destigmatised’ by universality and normalisation
  31. 31. References: cyclingGreen J, Steinbach R, Datta J and Edwards P. (2010) Cycling in London: a study of social and cultural factors in transport mode choice. A report to the Smarter Travel Unit, TfL. London: LSHTMSteinbach R, Green J, Datta J, and Edwards P. (2011) Cycling and the city: a case study of how gendered, ethnic and class identities can shape healthy transport choices Social Science and Medicine 72: 1123-1130Green J, Steinbach R and Datta J. (2012) The travelling citizen: emergent discourses of moral mobility in a study of cycling in London Sociology 46: 272-289
  32. 32. References: buses• Jones A, Steinbach R, Roberts H, Goodman A and Green J. (2012) Rethinking passive transport: bus fare exemptions and young people’s wellbeing Health and Place 18: 605- 612• ‘On the buses’ study website http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/php/hsrp/buses/inde x.html

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