Petra van der Kooij
On a regular Thursday morning at work one of my colleagues came in and reminded me about a guest lecture by John Whitelegg on Future Mobility and the City happening that day. Well, yeah, why shouldn’t I go, I thought. The mobility paradigm – the curse of our society.
We want to travel further, we want to travel faster and we want to travel ever more
comfortably, Whitelegg began. From there he introduced the question that has occupied his mind for many years: How can we break down the growth perspective underpinning the mobility question and come to an alternative system of transport? Achieving this lies, for him, in revealing the false assumptions of the efficiency of our current infrastructure and the negative consequences it has on human health, on the climate, on equality and so on.
Namely, he continued, time is stolen not given by new modes of transport. Instead of time saving through faster transport, we travel longer distances. This is not all; time is also stolen from pedestrians with traffic lights that force you to cross the street faster. In short, cars are given priority.
As he continued to talk and point out concepts such as time-space appropriation, hegemony, fetishism and problems of scale in relation to climate change, I mentally connected to Theo, also from Cooperide, who joined me for the lecture. It was if we were listening to our own manifesto. Only this time it was backed up with years of
research and additional evidence to show that sustainable alternatives are possible!
We call it disconnections; he calls it time-space fraught. We call it walls that close our eyes for reality; he calls it the structural bias as fundament of the mobility system. We want to show that lifestyles in one place deny lives in another; he warns of the unnecessary injuries as a result of our transportation system. We both stress the denial of the normative character of reality mystified by false rational efficiency. And we both find the same solution: cycling.
As Cooperide, we will cycle for a period of time to show that alternatives are possible. He envisions structural changes in behaviour and society. However, we both aim for breaking down walls to show false structures with real consequences. We do it ourselves to connect the disconnections we found in nowadays society. We cycle to break with the false restrictions of our lifestyles. We change our behaviour for a better world and with this act we contribute to the structural changes Whitelegg has in mind to make the city and the world a better place. A world of zero air pollution in cities, zero greenhouse gas emissions from transport and zero deaths and serious injuries. With the introduction of just one tool, which is as simple as the bicycle.