Cycling as a Right to the City: Bicycle Advocacy and Cycling Citizenship in Guadalajara
Belzen, N.A. van
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On the basis of a qualitative research design, this case study looks at the ways in which the bicycle both as transportation vehicle is used and as political tool of social change is perceived. Based on the concept cycling citizenship (Aldred 2010) and Lefebvre s (1968) right to the city , we explore the position of the bicycle in the urban domain of Guadalajara, Mexico, as perceived by bicycle users, bicycle advocates, and non-cycling people. Starting with the individual and structural factors related to decision-making, we gradually move from practical ascriptions of bicycle use to personal cycling identifications, cycling embodiment and social symbolic understandings. These cultural and ideological imaginaries form the basis for bicycle groups and bicycle movements in Guadalajara, who all promote bicycle use, though in different ways and with different objectives. Whereas bicycle use in the car dominated urban domain of Guadalajara still is a marginality, bicycle groups and movements have visualized the presence of cyclists on the streets, and put the bicycle on the public agenda. Cycling citizenship in Guadalajara consequently is a mixture of cycling community belonging, participation from below, institutional collaboration, and recently granted non-motorized mobility rights. Bicycle use in Guadalajara is on its way to become more recognized as a mode of transport, though it awaits a more inclusive approach and a social paradigm shift in order to create a successful bicycle culture .