The Unstable Lives of Bicycles: The "Unbecoming" of Design Objects

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Abstract

A predictable byproduct of any ‘successful’ mobility system is the breakdown and destruction of once desired, fashionable, shiny, and useful objects, yet mobilities scholars have largely ignored such issues. In this paper we document and analyze ethnographically neglected and ‘half-dead’ bikes in Copenhagen as we encounter them in racks, on the pavement, and when the municipality attempts to clear them out or recycle them. We are theoretically informed by ideas that see consumer objects as having a social and material life beyond their initial production and sale. They are constantly in a process, (un)becoming, and marked by that life. Where cycling is normally conceived of as a sustainable and environmentally friendly practice, this study shows that many bikes are ill treated and quickly become waste, and ‘matter out place
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Volume47
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)922 – 938
ISSN0308-518X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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