Unruly users: Cycling governance in context

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper provides an analysis of the turnaround in urban cycling participation during the 1970s and 1980s when it rebounded in many European cities. Understood as a profound process of sociotechnical change, particular attention is paid to the role of the users. Based on a case study of Graz in Austria, the paper seeks to answer what has led to the observed sociotechnical change and how governance processes have contributed to that. To this end, the paper introduces the reader to the specific circumstances in which the turnaround in urban cycling in Graz occurred. In doing so, the paper looks into significant traffic controversies at the time to study their impact on related governance practices. In a larger context of social and cultural change, the citizens of Graz desired to engage and participate in the shaping of their city and make it a better place to live. The events in Graz are discussed in relation to prominent Science and Technology Studies literature to highlight the profound context-dependency and contingency of sociotechnical change. Grounded in empirical analysis, the paper proposes to reconsider the role of users in cycling governance. Rather than framing the citizens of Graz as passive receivers of policy interventions, they are better understood as active agents of cycling governance. It is shown that alliances across policymakers and civil society actors turned out to be especially effective when responding to the needs of cyclists and their desire for change.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100281
Number of pages9
JournalTransportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
EventSmart Cycling Futures Workshop: second meeting - University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 13 Nov 201813 Nov 2018


  • Cycling
  • Governance
  • Sociotechnical change
  • User

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Transportation
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Management Science and Operations Research

Fields of Expertise

  • Sustainable Systems
  • Mobility & Production


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