Cycling Through COVID-19; Exploring Human-Scale Sensescapes

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    Cycling Through COVID-19; Exploring Human-Scale Sensescapes

    Using the London Streetspace Programme as a testbed, this paper compares the everyday sensory experience—or ‘urban sensescape’ (van Duppen and Spierings, 2013)—of cycling along streets that have been repurposed to support human-scale mobility (cyclists, pedestrians etc.) with that of cycling along streets that exist to uphold the ‘system of automobility’, primarily supporting cars, taxis and buses. On the ground, data was collected via a video auto-ethnography, bringing the researcher (myself) as close as possible to the subject of study so that the transient and fleeting nature of cycling might be effectively captured. Following Jones (2012), the paper employs the concept of sensory discipline to frame the analysis, arguing that human-scale streets foster a more disciplined sensescape; one that less experienced riders would likely feel more comfortable navigating. In concluding, the paper calls for urban planners to go beyond the human-scale, dismantling the ‘vehicular-pedestrian binary’ (Jones, 2005) by carving out spaces that cyclists can call their own.

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