Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

Politics and culture of pedestrian and cyclist safety

Supervisor: Dr Caroline Mullen

Risk, and perception of risk, has been identified as a barrier to increased levels of utility and leisure walking and cycling. There are diverse and frequently contested arguments about the way risk should be tackled, on how who should take responsibility for limiting risk, on what levels of risk people should accept, and on what should be done to minimise harm. These arguments can complicate progress on promoting walking and cycling. This PhD will explore and analyse the impacts of political and cultural discourses on risk faced by pedestrians and cyclists. This might include investigation of discourses which place responsibility for safety on those who are vulnerable; or approaches which place pedestrians at the top of a hierarchy of roads; or arguments which maintain risks on the roads should be considered offset by health benefits; or analysis of policy cultures which have tended to overlook walking and cycling. The overarching objective will be to offer understanding of the nature and influence of existing discourses on risk, to develop recommendations for improving conditions for walking and cycling, and if appropriate offering a rationale for defensible levels of risk.

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