Authored by: Peter Thomas

The Routledge Handbook of Mobilities

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415667715
eBook ISBN: 9781315857572
Adobe ISBN: 9781317934134


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In a recent interview, John Urry suggested that public or collective transport in its current form will become less significant in the future (Adey and Bissell 2010). The lock-in of steel and petroleum automobility over the course of the twentieth century and the greater flexibility that cars afford has, according to Urry, guaranteed automobility’s status as an ‘entire culture’, and one which makes it difficult to imagine a return to collective forms of transport for most people. However, as a consequence of the dominance of the car, our current systems of automobility are, in many places, becoming socially, economically and environmentally unsustainable. The gridlocked streets and long traffic jams that characterise the experience of automobility for many world cities is a stark reminder of how the infrastructures that underpin this system of individualised personal mobility are at breaking point. Significantly, the hegemonic solution of merely increasing infrastructural capacity to resolve these issues has been challenged by many who argue that increasing capacity only serves to exacerbate congestion and, thus, the associated economic, social and environmental problems (Shaw and Docherty 2008; Goodwin et al. 1991). Indeed the benefits that the flexibilities permitted by automobility bring are, in many places, being severely compromised by the stresses and strains induced by congestion, a problem intensified by the increasing costs associated with running a car.

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