Experiences of Urban Cycling: Emotional Geographies of People and Place

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This study explores the experiences and associated contexts of individuals who use a bicycle as their primary means of transportation in a metropolitan city in the United States. Using a qualitative approach, researchers employed semi-structured interviews to explore participants‘ narratives related to adopting cycling as a means of moving through the urban landscape and as a leisure experience. Findings revealed an evolutionary process whereby participants tested out, experimented with, and sustained various practices of riding a bike in the city. Whereas participants began cycling for a variety of practical, outcome-oriented economic, health, or environmental reasons, the practice was sustained by its often unexpected experiential benefits. When compared to automobile use, urban cycling was also found to foster an enhanced connection to place and a comparitive sense of control and autonomy. Participants articulated pragmatic, physical, restorative, and emotional rationales for initiating and maintaining urban cycling practices. Analyses are developed through emotional geographies that intimately and relationally connect people and place. The study’s findings highlight the presence of a political, economic, and spatial regime of auto-centricism against which participants must struggle.