RSS Entries ATOM Entries

Beauty & the Bike: from research project to community change

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on January 19th, 2010

Source: Beauty & the Bike via Treehugger

Extract from Beauty and the Bike: Teenage Girls and Urban Mobility Culture:

Beauty and the Bike aims to document the mobility culture, and particularly the bicycle culture, of an important, future oriented, target group. The project is focussed on girls and young women between 10 and 25 years old, and their attitude towards their travel choice, with the bicycle as the centre of interest.

The cultural dimension to European urban traffic planning has, until now, been regarded as at best marginal to planners’ concerns. With an education – and a contemporary practice – grounded in the practical solution to apparently technical problems, urban travel planners have historically had little to do with deeper socio-cultural trends.  But now that urban travel has taken centre stage in a new and radically different kind of production – the battle against global warming – the urgent need to change CO2 emitting urban travel habits is requiring planners to take account of the cultural climate their apparently technical solutions have spawned. Beauty and the Bike is a cultural urban travel project that aims to help urban traffic planners, by looking at one such mobility culture – that of the teenage girl and young woman.

Central to this project are the ways teenage girls choose their travel modes in two European countries, the United Kingdom and Germany. The core production activity of the project is cultural, with a documentary film, portrait photography exhibition and catalogue as key outputs. But its work is also rooted in, and supported by, progressive urban travel planners in Darlington (UK) and Bremen (Germany). Teenage participants in the project live in these two urban areas.

Looking at their lives superficially, they seem similar – with internet and iPods, fashion, first loves, and the stresses of school. But when you look more closely you find an important difference: their choice of travel modes. And the ways and means teenagers are able to get around, shapes their identity and sense of independence. Especially for girls, these are of vital importance for their development. Whilst most of the Bremen girls use their bikes on a daily basis, the Darlingtonians mostly walk, take the bus, or hope for a lift from one of their parents.”

The project led to the launch of a bike hire group, Velodarlo, as well as a local campaign for cycle paths in Darlington.  Velodarlo has recently been awarded funding to become DarLOVElo, which will inherit the Velodarlo Bike Pool and receive initial funding of over £30,000 to buy some 40 more bikes and set up a base near the centre of the town. The young women from the Beauty and the Bike project are committed to founding the Bike Club that will be the central feature of the new project, and they have been receiving skills training from members of Darlington Cycling Campaign in repairs and maintenance.

Comments are closed.