Accepted Paper:

Bike explorations on Zurich's cycling culture  


Yonca Krahn (Universit├Ąt Z├╝rich)
Bernhard Tschofen (University of Zurich)

Paper short abstract:

Cycling in Zurich, the bike is not only an object used in every day life, it is related to diverse lifestyles and self-understandings as well as a vehicle of new urbanity. The student project explores diverse user generated practices of bikes in their often contradictory connotation.

Paper long abstract:

At first sight, the hilly character of Zurich, Switzerland's indeed largest city but with narrow streets, tram tracks and cold winters does not make it most obvious that bikes are actually omnipresent objects of the cities inhabitants. A Master student research project of the University of Zurich explored deeper insight into the diverse and ambivalent scenes of cycling culture. The resulting picture suggests that bikes are used not only for the physical practice of cycling, but function as objects of integration, self-empowerment, political gimmick and discourse of divers savour. A selection of field insights shows different places and scenes where bikes are personalised and used, presents styles and tactics of usage practices, and discusses politics and differences on the bicycle. How do migration projects relate to bike rentals? Which paths are mental constructions of cities from bike messengers? What is the nowadays situation of an old cycling track in a former suburb? Does knowledge transmitted from childhood on, by friends, or social media influence DIY repairing of bikes? Why does the bike allow women migrants much more than just learning how to cycle? And which foundations are taught in children bike courses and the thematisation of safety? That biking is more than a mode of transportation, this corrective insight is given by the ethnographic approach on cycling cultures in the city of Zurich.

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