Zombie automobility

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Despite the escalation of crises related to a car-dependent system–global warming, habitat fragmentation, and the continued depletion of nonrenewable resources–the governing assumptions behind automobility remain unchanged. In this paper, we argue the endurance and continued expansion of a transportation regime centered on automobility in the US represents a zombie policy formation, simultaneously reliant on and consolidated by crises. Examining governance of the proposed Osceola Parkway Extension in Central Florida, we unpack the rationalities governing expressway development and the connection between road infrastructure and continued suburban development. Even as environmental crises are articulated in US policy, the focus on alleviating crises of congestion continues to propel automobility forward. However, it is not functioning as it did in an earlier life. Once lauded as a sign of modernity, automobility is now cynically advanced to perpetuate road construction and suburban developments. Expressway authorities invoke environmental crises and employ a discourse of sustainability to justify road infrastructure expansion as necessary. Thus, expressways are posed as the solution to the crises that automobility causes. We argue this contradictory governance paradigm, which ostensibly should be dead but continues to move forward, represents a zombie automobility.




Jones, C., & McCreary, T. (2022). Zombie automobility. Mobilities, 17(1), 19–36. https://doi.org/10.1080/17450101.2021.1940245

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