Urban Mobility Transitions: Governing through Experimentation in Bristol and New York City

Smeds, E. 2021. Urban Mobility Transitions: Governing through Experimentation in Bristol and New York City. PhD thesis University College London

TitleUrban Mobility Transitions: Governing through Experimentation in Bristol and New York City
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsSmeds, E.
Abstract

Transitions away from car-dominance is one of the key debates in urban research, policy and practice today. Car-free public space, cycling and convenient public transport services are widely seen as desirable, yet the reconfiguration of our streets and transport networks has been incremental. This doctoral research examines how mobility in cities is governed through experiments, commonly understood as pilot projects, and whether experiments hold potential for transformative change in urban mobility systems, including transitions away from automobility. The research draws on a synthesis of sustainability transitions, transport studies and urban studies literature, and traces the outcomes of 108 experiments undertaken over two decades in two cities: Bristol (UK) and New York City (USA) between 1996/7 and 2016. The findings demonstrate that experiments can contribute to transforming the physical shape of urban mobility systems and the institutions involved in governing them, and can even contribute to transitions, if assessed as change in commuting patterns away from car use. The research compares the capacity of respective municipal governments, Bristol City Council and NYC city government for ‘transformative experimentation’, and presents an institutionalist analysis of why the transformation of Bristol’s mobility system was more limited than NYC’s. To unpack the problematisation of piecemeal, ‘project-based’ experimentation driven by competitive funding landscapes, the research compares Bristol City Council and NYC city government as two municipalities with a different degree of reliance on external funding. The stronger capacity of NYC city government can be explained by its higher degree of fiscal autonomy and mobility policy discretion, whereas Bristol City Council’s capacity was limited by the centralisation of the UK state. Yet the thesis also shows that both municipalities pursued successful endogenous strategies in response to multi-scalar structure, and points to organisational and governance practices that can create ‘political space’ for urban actors to further transitions.

Keywordsmobility, transport, transitions, governance, experimentation
Year2021
Publication dates
Published2021
Web address (URL)https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10138066/

Related outputs

Street space experiments: tensions for just transitions towards post-car cities
Smeds, E. and Papa, E. 2022. Street space experiments: tensions for just transitions towards post-car cities. Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting 2022. Online 25 Feb - 01 Mar 2022

Pathways for accelerating transitions towards sustainable mobility in European cities
Smeds, E. and Cavoli, C. 2021. Pathways for accelerating transitions towards sustainable mobility in European cities. in: Abdullah, H. (ed.) Towards a European Green Deal with Cities: the urban dimension of the EU's sustainable growth strategy Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB).

Initial conceptual framework to map and establish cross-sector Links between major trip-generating sectors of the economy
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Assessing the Policy Environment for Active Mobility in Cities—Development and Feasibility of the PASTA Cycling and Walking Policy Environment Score
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Night-time mobilities and (in)justice in London: Constructing mobile subjects and the politics of difference in policy-making
Smeds, E., Robin, E. and McArthur, J. 2020. Night-time mobilities and (in)justice in London: Constructing mobile subjects and the politics of difference in policy-making. Journal of Transport Geography. 82 102569. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2019.102569

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Smeds, E. 2020. The Greener State: Public services for a carbon-neutral Europe. in: Harrop, A., Murray, K. and Nogarede, J. (ed.) Public Service Futures: Welfare States in the Digital Age Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) and the Fabian Society.

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Smeds, E. and Jones, P. 2020. Developing Transition Pathways towards Sustainable Mobility in European Cities. Deliverable D1.2, H2020 CIVITAS SUMP-PLUS project.

100 Social Sciences and Humanities priority research questions for transport and mobility in Horizon Europe
Ryghaug, M., Subotički, I., von Wirth, T., Smeds, E., Scherrer, A., Foulds, C., Bertolini, L., İnce, E.B., Brand, R., Cohen-Blankshtain, G., Dijk, M., Freudendal-Pedersen, M., Gössling, S., Guzik, R., Kivimaa, P., Klöckner, C., Nikolova, H.L., Lis, A., Marquet, O., Milakis, D., Mladenović, M., Mom, G., Mullen, C., Ortar, N., Pucci, P., Olivieira, C., Schwanen, T., Seidenglanz, D., Tuvikene, T. and Wentland, A. 2020. 100 Social Sciences and Humanities priority research questions for transport and mobility in Horizon Europe. ENERGY-SHIFTS project.

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Dragutescu, A., Jones, P., Smeds, E., Horvat, M. and Meskovic, E. 2020. City Typology, for context-sensitive framework and tools development. Deliverable D1.3, H2020 CIVITAS SUMP-PLUS project.

Evaluation of different recruitment methods: Longitudinal, web-based, pan-european physical activity through sustainable transport approaches (PASTA) project
Gaupp-Berghausen, M., Raser, E., Anaya-Boig, E., Avila-Palencia, I., De Nazelle, A., Dons, E., Franzen, H., Gerike, R., Götschi, T., Iacorossi, F., Hössinger, R., Nieuwenhuijsen, M., Rojas-Rueda, D., Sanchez, J., Smeds, E., M Deforth, A Standaert, E Stigell, T Cole-Hunter and L I Panis 2019. Evaluation of different recruitment methods: Longitudinal, web-based, pan-european physical activity through sustainable transport approaches (PASTA) project. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 21 (5) e11492. https://doi.org/10.2196/11492

Automobile peripheries: travel to school in suburban London through the lens of social practice
Smeds, E. 2019. Automobile peripheries: travel to school in suburban London through the lens of social practice. in: Robin Hickman, Beatriz Mella Lira, Moshe Givoni and Karst Geurs (ed.) A Companion to Transport, Space and Equity Edward Elgar. pp. 76-89

Unpacking the Politics of C40: ‘Critical Friendship’ for a Second Decade
Smeds, E. 2019. Unpacking the Politics of C40: ‘Critical Friendship’ for a Second Decade. Global Policy. 10 (4), pp. 720-722. https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.12757

Socio-spatial and temporal dimensions of transport equity for London's night time economy
McArthur, J., Robin, E. and Smeds, E. 2019. Socio-spatial and temporal dimensions of transport equity for London's night time economy. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice. 121, pp. 433-443. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tra.2019.01.024

Networking Cities after Paris: Weighing the Ambition of Urban Climate Change Experimentation
Smeds, E. and Acuto, M. 2018. Networking Cities after Paris: Weighing the Ambition of Urban Climate Change Experimentation. Global Policy. 9 (4), pp. 549-559. https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.12587

Equitable transport provision for night-time workers in 24-hour London
Smeds, E., McArthur, J. and Robin, E. 2017. Equitable transport provision for night-time workers in 24-hour London. UCL.

1942 - A Comparison between Literature Findings and Stakeholder Perspectives on Active Travel Promotion
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