New blog news

October 15th, 2012 by Rachel

I won’t be posting much on this blog from now on, although it’s not going to disappear.

Instead, I’m going to be posting material related to my research and teaching here at my new blog. It won’t just be about cycling but, as you might expect, cycling will continue to be a major theme. I will be posting my publications, news about events, projects, etc. and think pieces.

Cycling, sport and stigma

October 4th, 2012 by Rachel

I have written a short article which will be published in the Autumn edition of the ESRC’s Society Now magazine. It summarises and updates some of the arguments in my Mobilities paper, also recently discussed in a blog post by As Easy As Riding A Bike.

The Mobilities paper itself is currently access-controlled by the publisher, but I’d be happy to send out personal copies to anyone who wants to read it and can’t access it – please just email me.

Cycling and Society 2012 – material available online

September 23rd, 2012 by Rachel

Please go here for material from the 2012 Cycling and Society Symposium. Thanks to our 80 participants for their contribution to the event.

Update – GLA session: Transcript available

September 21st, 2012 by Rachel

You can now read the GLA cycling investigation transcript online here.

Cycling in London: GLA investigation

September 7th, 2012 by Rachel

Alongside Dutch and Danish experts, and representatives from Transport for London and the Freight Transport Association, I’m giving evidence to the Greater London Authority’s investigation into cycling in London. The meeting is open to the public and takes place on Tuesday 11th Sept – more detail here.

The meeting will cover both increasing cycling levels and increasing cycling safety, with topics including cycle infrastructure, HGVs, national and international best practice and promoting cycling.

Grove Road/Mile End Road junction

Junction on Cycle Superhighway 2, Mile End Road/Grove Road, currently under review as part of TfL’s Junction Review.

Cycling and Society Symposium 2012

September 4th, 2012 by Rachel

The Cycling and Society Symposium has finished, and I am exhausted – but in a good way :) Eighty people (from academia, advocacy, policy and practice) came over the two days and we had a packed programme.


Discussions over lunch and poster session, Monday

Lots of ideas, lots of networking, lots of debate over a day and a half (and an evening in the pub). Nineteen talks (and associated discussion), sixteen posters (ditto), and a Sunday afternoon ride. There was more of an international flavour this year, with contingents from (among other countries) Denmark and The Netherlands. (A moment that made me smile on the ride: when one of the participants, gazing at a ‘good example’ of cycle infrastructure, said tactfully ‘You know it is rather strange seeing this coming from The Netherlands’).

On the bike ride

Near Lock 7, Sunday afternoon bike ride.

Thanks to all participants, presenters, chairs, abstract reviewers, co-organisers, helpers on the day, etc… (people who came up at busy points and said ‘what can I do?’, you know who you are!)

poster discussion

Godwin explaining his poster to Trine

I plan, over the next month, to upload and link to files including pictures, audio recordings of talks and presentation files (subject to presenters’ agreement). Watch this space – and, if you’ve got any photos etc. from the event that you’d like me to share links to, let me know :)

Articles Update

July 16th, 2012 by Rachel

More articles are on the way based on the Cycling Cultures research. The paper that Kat and I wrote on Group Cycle Rides is now published in the June issue of Sociology. Another co-authored paper, on cycling’s sensory strategies (known between Kat and I as the ‘Zombie paper’ because its original title referred to ‘iPod Zombies’) was referred back for minor revisions and is now being re-considered by Mobilities. And a paper I’ve written entitled Governing Transport from Welfare State to Hollow State: the case of cycling in the UK is in press. You can read an author’s version here.

Rachel on cargo bike

I’ve also been out and about last week, attending (a) the first day of the Modelling World conference, (b) a workshop to inform the development of the STEP-CHANGE project, and (c) the inaugural meeting of the European Cycle Logistics Forum. All fascinating, but only the last involved the opportunity to ride an electric-assist Bakfiets during the lunch break…

Short report on Big Ride survey

July 9th, 2012 by Rachel

I’ve just finished writing up a short report on our LCC Big Ride Survey. It’s basically a summary of findings with some examples of how people responded to the open questions, such as why they were motivated to attend. Many referred to problematic experiences of cycling as a motivator, and to a feeling of a political window of opportunity for cycling. To give a couple of examples:

‘I am a regular cyclist concerned about the still inadequate facilities in London for myself and fellow cyclists.’

‘I don’t particularly like big, organised marshalled rides but I felt I ought to attend to support the LCC’s campaign for better cycling infrastructure, as I cycle in central London every day.
When i’m feeling optimistic, I get a sense that we’re almost at tipping point and London could become a place where normal people ride bikes all the time and cars are marginalised. It feels like a good time to be part of a campaign to keep pushing for that.’

You can read the short report here, and I’m planning to do more in-depth analysis later in the year – updated to be posted.

Cycling Cultures Report published

June 20th, 2012 by Rachel

We launched the report yesterday at UEL Stratford – thanks to all who came, we hope you found it interesting and useful. It’s now available in pdf form here.

En-gendering competence

June 18th, 2012 by Rachel

Cyclist crossing to Finsbury Park

I’m currently writing two presentations and related papers (well, there’s more in the immediate pipeline, but there’s two that I am particularly working on right now).

These are on injury and gender (“A transport system safe for men and other vulnerable groups“, with James Woodcock) and on cycling advocacy and activism (two related talks based on research I’ve been doing with Maria Bühner). Working on the LCC Big Ride survey spreadsheet, I was thinking of these presentations alongside work (mine and other people’s) on gender, cycling and identity.

Our survey asked people attending the LCC Big Ride to describe themselves as a cyclist; we had nearly 200 responses of which around 2/3 were from men and 1/3 from women. (Most respondents have been cycling for more than a couple of years, and cycle regularly.) Examining the responses, I looked for positive descriptions of skill, as I have argued elsewhere (in the paper that’s forthcoming in Mobilities) that cyclists are under particular pressure to demonstrate that they are competent. As well as ‘competent’ itself, I looked for the words confident, assertive, experienced, expert, capable, and proficient, which I would see as part of a group of terms used to construct the ‘competent cyclist’. I looked for them used positively (i.e. not, for example, ‘I am not competent’!) within people’s self-descriptions.

Just over half of the men described themselves using these terms while just over a third of the women did so. But perhaps more interesting is the way people use qualifying terms (either reducing the impact of the ‘competency’ terms, or adapting them by association with other attributes or identities). Less than a quarter of the men qualified their positive description of their own skills in this way, but more than half the women did so. Some the qualifiers suggested a perceived failure to live up to dominant norms of ‘competence’ (as per the Mobilities paper), while others seemed to embody a struggle with those definitions and norms and a desire to adapt them to create different kinds of ‘competent’ cycling identities.

Examples of qualified descriptions:


Confident but still learning
Fairly confident slow urban cyclist
Unfit, slow, but quietly competent.
Experienced, cautious and fairly assertive
Slow (I ride a Dutch granny bike), fairly confident (I’ve had some of that free training from my council) and a rule-follower.


Fairly experienced; calm
Experienced and assertive. Occasionally stupid.
Proficient, hates motor traffic.
Slow, competent and defensive
Experienced and tolerant

And some examples of self-descriptions that don’t have positive or qualified ‘competency references’:

A late-comer – to riding a tandem with my husband which I much enjoy & which is great for my fitness (I am disabled).
A non-aggressive cyclist, using the bicycle as an everyday form of transport around town
Pootle along non-lycra person on a bike
Law abiding and considerate with a mellow mojo but still faster than you!!
Slightly above average
I like cycling but I wouldn’t call myself a cyclist
Losing my nerve as I get older

The analysis continues…
(and yes, I’m sure you are faster than me ;) )