Urban mobility policies in Europe since the 2008 crisis : adaptations and innovations


From 01/06/2018 to 15/11/2018

Institut de géographie de l’ULB - CP 130/03 - Université Libre de Bruxelles - Av. F.D. Roosevelt, 50 1050 Bruxelles Belgique

From Thessaloniki to Manchester, from Malaga to Berlin, local powers are adapting their agendas, developing walking and bike friendly infrastructure and articulating it with the use of public transport. Why? Two sets of explanations are commonly advanced.

Observed from the transport side, these cities are experiencing, even with some delay and differences compared one to another, a mobility turn. Local leaders consider more seriously the negative externalities of car (health, climate impacts, costs) and seek a better balance between modes and types of mobility (collective and individual). Observed from the social and economic side, structural changes have occurred during a decade of crisis. Austerity agendas compel local governments to set aside costly infrastructures such as highways or highspeed lines, while citizens are affected by precariousness and choose cheaper mobility solutions.

If some research has been conducted on each of these types of causes, the interaction of both causalities justifies a fresh overlook. Our knowledge concerning new urban mobility practices fostered by (municipal or metropolitan) policies in a context of crisis or post-crisis has to be updated on the following points: the interplay of public and private initiatives (for example with bike rental services); the effects of these policies on the very notion and shaping of public space; the role mobility plays in urban regeneration projects; the publics which pioneer urban mobilities trends (tourists, students, etc.) and the way local policies make these groups visible and sustain a shift in mobility cultures and subcultures, whatever the situation in the mobility turn. For example, some cities in Denmark and Netherlands have a long time promoted cycling and walking in a broader approach of urban way of life: these practices are elements of a strong urban regime, supported by a robust infrastructure and bike or walk friendly policies have normalized cycling and walk as a legitimate everyday practice. In other places, such as Naples or Valencia, these practices have been promoted much more recently. Yet, mobility still stands in both groups of cities as a political instrument, and as a process not exempt of difficulties. It goes along with a reorientation of the territorial and social model, but it faces unequal social engagement among the population. The conflicts raised and the controversies concerning the role of local mobility policies on socio-spatial fragmentation and inequalities are often publicly debated.

The issue welcomes papers that integrate theoretical analysis and case studies shedding new light on the paradoxically fecundity last decade crisis in terms of urban mobility policies and practices with special interest to the four following aspects:

1) The last decade’s crisis as a turning point in urban mobility policies and practices.
What are the links between social demand and political offer? The contributions could analyse the growing importance of collective transport (such as light train, bus system), the controversial place given to private car and the way cycling and walking are encouraged in discourses and representations of local actors. The communications may also show the effects (and limits) of such strategies on modal choices and everyday practices, especially among vulnerable groups.

2) Geographical expansion and diffusion of new urban mobility models throughout Europe.
If they assess a multi-scale and comparative perspective, the proposals may explore the impacts of institutional or associative networks in the dissemination patterns of mobility policies or practices and question the too simple north Europe to south Europe or centre to periphery diffusion model.

3) Emerging or transforming urban mobility subcultures.
New mobilities are reshaping urban environments as well as they are reconfiguring the way urban place is experienced. This is a crucial issue for European cities, because their dense and diverse urban fabric is both an opportunity and a potential limit for the development of new mobility systems. Moreover, the cosmopolite urban society isn’t adopting new mobility practices with the same rythm and pace (tourists versus residents uses, intergenerational or gender relationships). So, how does the mobility culture affect social change in European cities?

4) Technomobility, collaborative tools and urban policies: where is innovation?
Internet and smartphones offer a wide range of technical possibilities to measure mobility flows and to assist infrastructure management. Advanced mapping and big data are more and more introduced in mobility planning and mobility urban design processes and sustain shared use of vehicles. Proposals may include the use and the critic of new methods joining qualitative and quantitative approaches of urban mobility monitoring. They can also observe how local stakeholder foster experimentations and “fix” innovative tools and integrate new partners (e.i start-ups) in mobility governance.

Scientific editors: Nacima Baron (University Paris Est, Ecole d’Urbanisme de Paris Laboratoire Ville Mobilité Transport, nacimabaron@gmail.com), Juan-Miguel Albertos (University of Valencia, Departamento de Geografia, Instituto de Desarrollo Local, juan.m.albertos@uv.es).

The call is openened from June 1rst to November 15th 2018. The texts should follow all Belgeo edition rules: https://journals.openedition.org/​belgeo/​7113.

 

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