Traffic rules do not account for our conduct in public space. Indeed, it has been argued that the main purpose of formal rules is to determine legal accountability in case of an accident (Savigny, 1980). Rather ‘traffic’ is managed through participants’ constant negotiation and thus relies on movers ongoing analysis of others’ projected trajectories as (potentially) relevant for one’s own actions. My interest is to understand social practices for managing safe passage in order to provide empirically based arguments for to conceptualise future mobility technologies (for various stakeholders such as city planners and designers of -new- mobility technologies etc.).
In urban traffic, infrastructure is often divided into roads, bike lanes and sidewalks to keep different types of users separated. Yet we all know that this only gets us part of the way: cyclists leave the bike lane during overtakings or when the bike lane is blocked for instance by parked cars; pedestrians cross the street although the crossing is close by etc. At the same time, we witness a dramatic increase of mobility technologies in public space: e-bikes, e-skateboards, segways and hover boards. And autonomous vehicles. These and other mobility technologies are assumed to blend into existing traffic practices (as opposed to getting their own ‘lines’) although the navigate very different from their traditional counterparts (e.g. the speed of an e-bikes and a regular bike). I’m interested in how such mobility technologies transform our public space and the social practices movers rely on in shared social space.