Rides of Freedom; Joy, risk and convenience of cycling youth
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The growing share of young people living is cities ask for a better understanding of urban youth. Urban youth have a high demand for mobility, which is a resource of particular importance for them to prosper. The bicycle is an affordable and accessible mode of transport that since recently is gaining popularity in many cities worldwide. A knowledge gap exists in these cities on what role the bicycle plays in the lives and mobilities of youth. Therefore the research aims to understand what influence the bicycle has on the urban daily mobilities of youth in immature cycling cultures and how these mobilities are explained. The research is based on three different data sources, two systematic review analysis’, an examination of a quantitative data set of Mexico City, and empirical data from Cali (Colombia) drawn from fieldwork and interviews. These data sources give insight in the characteristics, freedoms and constraints of cycling, and what role the bicycle has in forming identities. The bicycle is often used for daily commutes, especially because it is fast and convenient in the city. It provides the rider with joy, flexibility, independent travel, control and freedom. The bicycle is an important identity marker for youth that often influences their lifestyle. However, riders risks accidents, harm or violence while cycling, which profoundly influencing their mobilities. At last, social norms have great influence on attitudes of youth towards cycling. The research argues that the bicycle matches in many ways the demand and desires of youth and their mobilities. However, since the vulnerability and exposure of cycling plays out differently for different personal factors the potential advantages are not felt by all youth. Further research is needed to better understand the relation between personal safety and cycling as mode of transport for youth.