"Under the seeming disorder of the old city, wherever the old city is working successfully, is a marvelous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city"
~ Jane Jacobs in The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Cycling is a simple means that connects to a wide range of very complex problems and challenges of contemporary cities. It is intertwined with many aspects of urban life in all its richness and complexity.
Academic attention for this has been very limited. A more structured approach is needed to map these complex relations, understand best practices and foster reciprocal learning between research and practice.
The Urban Cycling Institute is part of the Center for Urban Studies of the University of Amsterdam.
1. Interdisciplinary research on cycling
Cycling is connected to a wide range of demographic, ethnic and social dynamics in our cities and regions. One example of this are possible reciprocal relations between cycling and processes of gentrification.
Cycling also has intricate links between processes on an individual level. The embodied practice of cycling and the way in which a cyclists interacts with others and his/her environment are examples of this.
We aim to bring sociologists, anthropologists, geographers, psychologists, engineers and urban planners together around these themes
2. Developing and integrating new methods
Cycling is currently often analyzed through traffic counts, transport modeling and questionnaires. It's unique characteristics require (and allow) us to go beyond these techniques. We aim to integrate data from smartphone applications, WiFi detection and link these to qualitative instruments such as participatory observations and in depth interviewing techniques.
This creates innovative insights in the space time behavior of individuals and its impact on out urban space.
3. Comparative urbanism
The Netherlands, and especially Amsterdam offer an ideal setting for our ambitions in which cycling is an integral part of mobility choices in our daily lives. There are many profound differences in this context that merit academic attention, but we expect most value from international comparative studies.
This also links to our aim to structure the exchange of knowledge about Dutch cycling in an international context (and vice versa).
The UCI members are members of the larger Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences of the University of Amsterdam and are therefore involved in a wide range of Bachelor's and Master's courses in Geography and Urban Planning. This setup allows a continuous bidirectional flow of knowledge and insights between these different courses and the cycling research. At the moment, UCI hosts one additional course in the form of a summer school.
Summer School 'Planning the Cycling City'
Explore urban cycling from a Dutch perspective, both historical and current, and gain a host of skills on how to develop and foster cycling cities.
The 3-week course at the University of Amsterdam includes seminars, guest speakers, fieldwork/excursions, small group discussion, a final public event and course projects. The content of the lectures will gradually shift from theory, to application, to reflection. All of this while experiencing the world's leading cycling city and nation all around you!
Speakers are world leading academics from a wide range of domains, and professionals working in local, regional, and national agencies/organizations/companies, advocacy organizations. These professionals provide a practical perspective on the issues discussed in class and engage in knowledge exchange with the students.
For more information and application please go to: www.uva.nl/summer-cycling-city
MOOC 'Unraveling the cycling city'
Obscured by its apparent simplicity, cycling is a complex phenomenon. Being an almost perfect human-machine hybrid, cycling is deeply rooted in a plethora of socio-technological systems. Around the world cycling is embraced as an important ingredient to tackle a wide variety of individual and societal challenges.
The Netherlands is often seen as an ideal living lab, because cycling has retained its significant share of mobility throughout the country. At the same time, there are large differences in developments across time and space, that allows for a better understanding of potential causal relations. This is also increasingly recognized by (inter)national top tier researchers from many different academic fields. They are uncovering reciprocal relations of cycling with spatial, ecological, historical, social, cultural, economic, biological and political structures.
Unraveling the Cycling City bundles the state-of-the-art knowledge that emerges from research and practice on the Dutch cycling system. As such, it provides an easily accessible platform to learn about important causes and effects, to open minds for the complexity of the entire system and to support group deliberations around the world.