Cycling’s Sensory Strategies: How Cyclists Mediate their Exposure to the Urban Environment

Jungnickel, Katrina and Aldred, Rachel. 2013. Cycling’s Sensory Strategies: How Cyclists Mediate their Exposure to the Urban Environment. Mobilities, 9(2), pp. 238-255. ISSN 1745-0101 [Article]

[img] Text
Cycling's Sensory Strategies - Mobilities.doc - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (114kB)

Abstract or Description

In this article, we focus on the many ways cyclists mediate their sensory exposure to the urban environment. Drawing on research in Hull, Hackney and Bristol during 2010 and 2011 for the Cycling Cultures research project, we describe a range of ‘sensory strategies’ enrolled by cyclists. Our research reveals how sensory strategies, such as using mobile audio devices, involve deliberate and finely tuned practices shaped by factors such as relaxation, motivation and location. This presents a contrast to media representations of the ‘iPod zombie cyclist’ who, plugged into a mobile audio device, lumbers insensitively and dangerously through the urban landscape. The article complicates the idea that sensory practices of listening and not-listening are two fixed and distinct ways of being in the urban environment. We suggest that considering the sensory strategies of cyclists opens up a new terrain for thinking about less easily represented, uncertain and fleeting intersections of mobility, place and the senses. Ultimately, we argue that an analysis of cycling’s sensory strategies might enrich our understanding of mobility cultures by operating to reconnect a range of mobile citizens with the broader messy and less easily controllable sensory landscape. This has implications both for understanding cycling as a sensory practice and for thinking about how the sensory dimensions of other mobile practices are shaped by practitioners.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Bicycle, cycling, ethnography, mobilities, sensory strategies, transport, urban studies

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



14 June 2013Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

20 Oct 2014 13:40

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 09:51

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)