Accepted Paper:

Biking consumers: bags, bikes and sustainability  

Authors:

Niklas Sörum (University of Gothenburg)
Helene Brembeck (University of Gothenburg)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of the paper is to discuss discrepancies between cycling as a represented sustainable form of urban transportation as promoted in policy programs in Sweden and cyclists’ experiences of bringing goods back from the store.

Paper long abstract:

Things are not always consumed at the same place where they were obtained and this generates a mobility of moving things that the consumer is responsible for, i.e. a mundane consumer logistic conducted by customers while moving things from stores to places where the things are used. Means of transport and carrying for "getting this work done", for example bicycles, are not essentially enabling or disabling: for the strong, healthy and able-bodied, cycling equals healthy pleasure and leisure but the slightly "over-carrying" person moving recent purchases might perceive the physical environment more in terms of risk than aesthetic pleasure. The aim of the paper is to discuss discrepancies between cycling as a represented sustainable form of urban transportation as promoted in policy programs in Sweden and cyclists' experiences of bringing goods back from the store. Over the last ten or more years bicycling has reached a top place on both the academic and policy agenda in search for ways to increase use of bicycles as they are seen as healthy and sustainable means of urban transportation. When doing everyday consumer errands like grocery shopping, any aesthetic pleasure, effects on health or the environment derived from cycling must be related to experiences of discomfort, physical effort and safety measures. In this paper we confront sustainability transport policy directed towards urban dwellers with an ethnographic analysis of biking consumers. We combine data obtained through in-depth interviews and "go-along observations" with families with small children and elderly people.

Panel P52
Cycling: past, present and future