Centre for Urban Studies

Cities and Mobilities #4 | Mobility transitions

with Tim Schwanen

02Feb2018 13:15 - 17:00


What should transitions to more sustainable and equitable mobilities look like? The fourth Cities and Mobilities Seminar will focus on this question.

This editions’ guest speaker is Tim Schwanen (Director of the Transport Studies Unit, University of Oxford). He will provide a talk titled Transitions in Urban Mobility Beyond State and Market: Insights from London and São Paulo.

Guest lecture

The idea that urban mobility systems are undergoing radical transformations has gained traction over the past decade among policy makers, professionals and academics alike. Given that markets are widely seen as crucial sites where these transformations take place and are configured, private firms and policymakers are often considered as the key actors in transition processes. The role of community or grassroots organisations is often not neither considered nor understood.

In his presentation, Tim Schwanen will concentrate on the initiatives by such organisations by focusing on the provision or improvement of infrastructures for cycling and walking. Adopting a broad and inclusive understanding of infrastructures and drawing on empirical materials from London and Sao Paulo, he critically examines the contributions to mobility transitions that community initiatives can make.

Functions of community initiatives

While those initiatives are unlikely to trigger mobility transitions themselves, they fulfill at least two critical  functions in mobility transitions that both revolve around questions of justice. One is that they cater to the mobility -- and many other -- needs of social groups at risk of marginalisation in most transport policy, private sector activity and wider discourses. The other is that, at a time that most policy and private sector activity is committed to ethical individualism and market logics, community initiatives play a key role in 'commoning' -- the creation and harnessing of networked and interwoven commons such as physical structures, knowledges and atmospheres that facilitate and encourage walking and cycling. Differences between London and Sao Paulo in how community initiatives regarding walking and cycling infrastructures fulfill these functions will be explored.

Tim Schwanen

Ou guest speaker is Associate Professor in Transport Studies and Director of the Transport Studies Unit (TSU) in the School of Geography and the Environment as well as a Fellow at St Anne’s College, all at the University of Oxford. Further, he is a co-director of the RCUK funded Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand. In 2013-2015 he was the editor-in-chief of Journal of Transport Geography and he currently serves on the editorial advisory boards of nine academic journals in geography, transport studies and sustainability research. 

Full programme


Opening by Anna Nikolaeva (CUS, organizer of the seminar series)


- Mode Transition Implications of E-bikes in the Netherlands by SUN Qi, TU/e

- Cycling-as-a-Service in the urban Netherlands by Brett Petzer, TU/e

- Flexible transport. (Diss)embedded urban mobilities by Wladimir Sgibnev and Lela Rekhviashvili, Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography


Coffee break


- Transitions in Urban Mobility Beyond State and Market: Insights from London and São Paulo by Tim Schwanen

- Comments and discussion.

- Discussant: Danielle Snellen, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL)



Seminar Series

The Cities and Mobilities Seminar Series aims to develop a conversation on how mobilities shape cities. It does so by fostering exchange and collaboration between scholars from different disciplines and practitioners working on urban mobilities. For more information about the seminar series and for the abstracts of all presentations, please check the Cities and Mobilities website.


The seminar is free and open to anyone. Please let us know if you are coming by sending an e-mail to the Centre for Urban Studies.

Room B.25 (ground floor)

  • Roeterseilandcampus - building J/K

    Valckenierstraat 65-67 | 1018 XE Amsterdam
    +31 (0)20 525 5663

    Go to detailpage

Published by  CUS