Are mobilities of care at odds with bicycling? A closer examination of how diverse women do bicycling.

Authors: Stephanie Sersli*, Simon Fraser University, Meghan Winters, Simon Fraser University
Topics: Women, Urban Geography, Transportation Geography
Keywords: bicycle, mobility, intersectional
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: 8223, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Cities are promoting bicycling, which is often framed as a healthy and low-carbon lifestyle. However, a policy obstacle is the urban bicycling gender gap that exists in most parts of the world. We suggest people are unevenly positioned to become “good mobile subjects” (Sheller, 2015).This paper examines how diverse women “do bicycling”, drawing from 30 interviews with women in Metro Vancouver, Canada. We use a social practice approach to understand how bicycling is enmeshed and held in place by other features of everyday life, and how bicycling practices are inscribed on/through the body. Of special interest is how women with children negotiate “good mothering” (Dowling, 2000) with bicycling.

We found adoption of bicycling into everyday life was shaped by parental status, cultural background, and residential location. The combination of caregiving and work responsibilities at different life stages affected where and with whom women bicycled. Most participants described using designated bicycle routes to make journeys, an important equity consideration as Vancouver’s densest bicycle network is concentrated downtown. Busier bicycle routes facilitated more interaction with other cyclists, often pleasant but sometimes stressful. Some women took up bicycling upon moving to Vancouver while others found it difficult to maintain previous bicycling practices. Our findings suggest that the widespread adoption of everyday urban bicycling will entail interventions that not only improve physical infrastructure, but that also address other social processes and practices.

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