1st Edition

Bicycle Utopias Imagining Fast and Slow Cycling Futures

By Cosmin Popan Copyright 2019
    218 Pages
    by Routledge

    218 Pages
    by Routledge

    Bicycle Utopias investigates the future of urban mobilities and post-car societies, arguing that the bicycle can become the nexus around which most human movement will revolve. Drawing on literature on post-car futures (Urry 2007; Dennis and Urry 2009), transition theory (Geels et al. 2012) and utopian studies (Levitas 2010, 2013), this book imagines a slow bicycle system as a necessary means to achieving more sustainable mobility futures.

    The imagination of a slow bicycle system is done in three ways:

    • Scenario building to anticipate how cycling mobilities will look in the year 2050.

    • A critique of the system of automobility and of fast cycling futures.

    • An investigation of the cycling senses and sociabilities to describe the type of societies that such a slow bicycle system will enable.

    Bicycle Utopias will appeal to students and scholars in fields such as sociology, mobilities studies, human geography and urban and transport studies. This work may also be of interest to advocates, activists and professionals in the domains of cycling and sustainable mobilities.

    Chapter 1, Prologue: Imagining a slow bicycle system

    The new ‘structure of feeling’

    The end of neoliberalism: embracing the slow

    The urban form

    Bike + train + cargo = love

    Cycling as mobility policy

    From subculture to culture

    The bicycle economy and big data

    Know-how and technology transfer

    Innovations in bicycles and accessories

    Broader societal and economic changes

    Steps from 2016 to 2050

    Chapter 2, Introduction: Tips of the cycling iceberg

    Chapter 3: How to imagine biketopias

    Utopia as method

    Conclusions: Enacting the social

    Chapter 4: Beyond autopia

    The elephant in the city

    From autopia to Carmageddon

    Electric, autonomous, networked, shared

    The mobility growth paradigm

    Going car-free

    Careless car-free?

    Conclusions: Beyond cars, beyond growth

    Chapter 5: Utopias, dystopias, biketopias

    In praise of slowness

    Early biketopias of modernity and progress

    Fast cycling for urban regeneration and growth

    Slow bicycle utopias

    Mad Max on a bike

    Convivial biketopias

    Bike spaces of hope

    Conclusions: A break from growth

    Chapter 6: Senses

    On growing pedals

    Velomobility at a glance

    Grow ears, awaken the whole body

    Working the inner body: balance and movement

    Pain festivities: ‘sufferfest’

    How to achieve eurhythmia?

    Conclusions: Flowing towards eudaimonia

    Chapter 7: Sociabilities

    Cycling as interaction order and sociable practice

    The Ride-Formation

    Swarm sociabilities

    Conversation sociabilities

    Carnivalesque sociabilities

    Club sociabilities

    The chain-gang

    The accordion

    Conclusions: Fluid Ride-Formations

    Chapter 8: Slowness

    Need for speed

    Tactics of slowness

    Affecting the slow

    Slowness, sufficiency, de-growth

    Conclusions: A norm of sufficiency

    Chapter 9: Conclusions



    Cosmin Popan is Research Assistant in the Department of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University


    What  might  an  urban  cycling  future  look  like?  This  book  makes  a  unique  contribution  to  the  sociology  of  mobilities  and  mobile  methods  with  a  critical  and  creative  examination  of  where  we are  and  where  we could  be.  Popan  questions  the  normative  dominance  of  ‘fast’  urban  mobilities,  namely  the  utopian  promise  of  the  car,  with  his  thorough  and  in-depth  analysis  of  ‘slow’ cycling  cultures.  This  timely  investigation  of  post-automobility  futures  challenges  the  reader  to  imagine  the  possibilities  of  different  sensory,  embodied  and  social  worlds.

    Kat  Jungnickel,  Goldsmiths,  University  of  London,  author  of  Bikes  and  Bloomers:  Victorian  Women  Inventors  and  Their  Extraordinary  Cycle  Wear 

    This book impressively explores so many dimensions of changing bicycle mobilities—among them economics, policy, cultural meaning, embodiment, identity, sociability, and technology—that it is a must-read. It is also a unique and forward-thinking book, weaving together innovative methods, critical analysis, and utopian thinking to envision a future ‘slow bicycle system,’ and, more importantly, the actions and changes necessary in the present to construct that future. Cosmin Popan is a sophisticated guide through these complicated issues, and one cannot but admire the ambition and accomplishment here.

    Luis Vivanco, University of Vermont, author of Reconsidering the Bicycl