The conflictual governance of street experiments, between austerity and post-politics

Verlinghieri, E., Brovarone, E.V. and Staricco, L. 2024. The conflictual governance of street experiments, between austerity and post-politics. Urban Studies. 61 (5), pp. 878-899. https://doi.org/10.1177/00420980231193860

TitleThe conflictual governance of street experiments, between austerity and post-politics
TypeJournal article
AuthorsVerlinghieri, E., Brovarone, E.V. and Staricco, L.
Abstract

Car dependency greatly contributes to the climate crisis and the corrosion of public space. In response, cities are introducing pedestrianisation, cycle lanes or tactical urban interventions aimed at repurposing streets for other road users. Framed as ‘experiments’, these reallocations of street space disrupt traditional transport planning procedures, often with promising results in promoting active travel. They are also associated with deep conflicts and criticism, especially by citizens defending the right to drive. Despite their ability to stop experiments, such conflicts have been little explored in the debates about experimentation and automobility. Similarly, street experiments have in most cases been uncritically embraced as a panacea for urban mobility problems, with little attention paid to experimentation as an expression of austerity urbanism. This paper aims to deepen our understanding of street experiments and their relationship to automobility by contextualising their conflictual unfolding as an expression of post-political planning in the age of austerity urbanism. Through a critical examination of the Torino Mobility Lab, a collaborative pedestrianisation experiment in Torino, we show how the governance-beyond-state setup of such projects masks a complex and contested coexistence of different meanings and processes for reimagining urban mobility and public space. We show how conflicts emerge embedded in the problematic and post-political governance of transport experiments. Nested within austerity urbanism, the experiment remains limited in its ability to create healthy spaces for participation. We conclude by highlighting the limitations and contradictions of attempts to overcome car dependency embedded in post-political frameworks and neoliberal-austerity planning practices.

Keywordsausterity
pedestrianisation
post-political
street experiments
transport governance
JournalUrban Studies
Journal citation61 (5), pp. 878-899
ISSN0042-0980
1360-063X
Year2024
PublisherSage
Publisher's version
License
CC BY-NC 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1177/00420980231193860
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.1177/00420980231193860
Publication dates
Published online08 Sep 2023
Published in print2024

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