Disruptive, dangerous, and dirty: active travel measures as a ‘cause’ of car-related externalities

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Automobility centred on private car use generates various externalities–or ‘antagonisms’–that threaten its sustainability as a mobility regime. Through expanding the practice and spaces of driving, mass immobility can result. With increased car use, comes increased energy use, generating an ecological antagonism for this regime. Finally, greater car use has resulted in mass road traffic injuries and fatalities, which presents another threat to the growth and maintenance of this unique form of automobility. While these antagonisms present a risk, they have also been leveraged as a means to establish and secure the dominance of automobility. As part of a wider study exploring discourses of opposition to redistributive active travel measures in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Ireland, this paper illustrates how active travel measures that present a challenge to automobility are depicted as disruptive, dangerous and dirty. These measures, precisely designed to mitigate the antagonisms of mass car use, are construed instead as primary causes of these systemic externalities. This study thereby reveals how active travel spaces themselves–and spatial regulations that favour active travellers–can be unfavourably represented as a means of politically sustaining automobility.




Egan, R., & Caulfield, B. (2024). Disruptive, dangerous, and dirty: active travel measures as a ‘cause’ of car-related externalities. Mobilities. https://doi.org/10.1080/17450101.2024.2328213

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