Towards an Intersectional Approach to Men, Masculinities and (Un)sustainable Mobility: The Case of Cycling and Modal Conflicts

  • Dag BalkmarEmail author


This chapter discusses cycling promotion and modal conflicts in public space with a particular focus on men, masculinities and transport planning. It draws on three interrelated examples: interviews with cyclists about cycling, media reports on cycling and cyclists’ online discussions on vulnerability. The first two examples illustrate how men and masculinities can be framed as both solutions and obstacles to achieving more sustainable mobilities through more cycling. The third example demonstrates how cycling implies a particularly vulnerable and conflicting position in the traffic hierarchy with implications for men and masculinities. The conflicts over urban space exemplified here illustrate how traditional transport planning has prioritized automobility and, by doing so, reproduced male norms in the transport sector. It is argued that using an intersectional analytical lens can be a fruitful way to challenge existing norms.


Gender Cycling Men Masculinities Modal conflicts Transport planning Sweden Intersectionality 


  1. Aldred, R. (2013). Incompetent or too competent? Negotiating everyday cycling identities in a motor dominated society. Mobilities, 8(2), 252–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aldred, R., & Crosweller, S. (2015). Investigating the rates and impacts of near misses and related incidents among UK cyclists. Journal of Transport and Health, 2(3), 379–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Al Naher, S. (2017). Myror är smartare än cyklister [Ants are smarter than cyclists]. Aftonbladet, March 26.
  4. Alnebratt, K., & Rönnblom, M. (2016). Feminism som byråkrati: jämställdhetsintegrering som strategi [Feminism as bureaucracy: Gender mainstreaming as strategy]. Stockholm: Leopard.Google Scholar
  5. Andersson, O. (2015). Så blev män i lycra aggressiva cykelkrigare [This is how men in lycra became aggressive cyclist warriors]. Dagens Nyheter, June 28.Google Scholar
  6. Anshelm, J., & Hultman, M. (2014). A Green Fatwā? Climate change as a threat to the masculinity of industrial modernity. NORMA: The International Journal for Masculinity Studies, 9(2), 84–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Aslam, A. (2015). Vuxna cyklisters cykelanvändning efter genomförd cykelkurs, en explorativ undersökning om effekten av utbildning på cykelanvändning [Adult cyclists bicycle uptake after fulfilling cycle course]. Examensarbete inom trafik och transportplanering, Stockholm: KTH.Google Scholar
  8. Bacchi, C. (2009). Analysing policy: What’s the problem represented to be? Frenchs Forest: Pearson.Google Scholar
  9. Balkmar, D. (2012). On men and cars: An ethnographic study of gendered, risky and dangerous relations. Dissertation, Linköping University.Google Scholar
  10. Balkmar, D. (2018). Violent mobilities: Men, masculinities and road conflicts in Sweden. Mobilities.
  11. Balkmar, D., & Henriksson, M. (2016). Transportforum, Mobilitet på lika villkor? Om jämlikhet och makt i transportpolitiken [Mobility on equal terms? On equality and power in transport politics]. Presentation Transportforum, Linköping, 13 January.Google Scholar
  12. Balkmar, D., & Summerton, J. (2017). Contested mobilities: Politics, strategies and visions in Swedish bicycle activism. Applied Mobilities. Scholar
  13. Balkmar, D., & Hearn, J. (2018). Men, automobility, movements, and the environment: Imagining (un)sustainable, automated transport futures. In J. Hearn, E. Vasquez del Aguila, & M. Blagojević (Eds.), Unsustainable institutions of men: Transnational dispersed centres, gender power, contradictions (pp. 225–254). Abingdon/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Böhm, S., Jones, C., Land, C., & Paterson, M. (2006). Against automobility. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  15. Butler, J. (1990). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Carlsson-Kanyama, A., Linden, A.-L., & Thelander, Å. (1999). Insights and applications gender differences in environmental impacts from patterns of transportation – A case study from Sweden. Society & Natural Resources, 12(4), 355–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dahl, E. (2014). Om miljöproblemen hänger på mig: individer förhandlar sitt ansvar för miljön [If handling environmental problems were up to me: Individuals negotiate their environmental responsibility]. Dissertation, Linköping University.Google Scholar
  18. Ekström, C., & Linder, A. (2017). Fatally injured cyclists in Sweden 2005–2015. Analysis of accident circumstances, injuries and suggestions for safety improvements. Report, VTI notat 5A-2017.Google Scholar
  19. Emanuel, M. (2012). Trafikslag på undantag: cykeltrafiken i Stockholm 1930–1980 [Excluded through planning: bicycle traffic in Stockholm 1930–1980]. Dissertation, Kungl. tekniska högskolan.Google Scholar
  20. Emond, C., Tang, W., & Handy, S. (2009). Explaining gender differences in bicycling behaviour. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2125(1), 16–25. Scholar
  21. Faith-Ell, C., & Levin, L. (2013). Kön i trafiken: jämställdhet i kommunal transportplanering. [Gender in traffic: Gender equality in municipality transport planning]. Stockholm: Sveriges kommuner och landsting.Google Scholar
  22. Freudendal-Pedersen, M. (2015). Cyclists as part of city’s organism: Structural stories on cycling in Copenhagen. City and Society, 27(1), 30–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Freudendal-Pedersen, M., & Cuzzocrea, V. (2015). Cities and mobilities. City and Society, 27(1), 4–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gil Solá, A. (2013). På väg mot jämställda arbetsresor: vardagens mobilitet i förändring och förhandling [Towards gender equality? Women’s and men’s commuting under transformation and negotiation]. Dissertation, University of Gothenburg.Google Scholar
  25. Gillinger, C. (2013). Det är ett krig, I Tell You, Ett Cykelkrig! [It’s a war, I Tell You, a bike war!]. Cyklistbloggen. Accessed 30 Oct 2017.
  26. Golub, A., Hoffmann, M. L., Lugo, A. E., & Sandoval, G. F. (2016). Introduction: Creating an inclusionary bicycle justice movement. In A. Golub, M. L. Hoffmann, A. E. Lugo, & G. F. Sandoval (Eds.), Bicycle justice and urban transformation: Biking for all? (pp. 1–19). Abingdon: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hallemar, D. (2014). Ojämnt krig om stadsrummet [Unequal war for the city space]. Svenska Dagbladet, January 25.Google Scholar
  28. Hanson, S. (2010). Gender and mobility: New approaches for informing sustainability. Gender Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 17(1), 5–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hartley, K. (2017). Andra cyklister är det som besvärar Malmös cyklister mest [Other cyclists is what bothers the cyclists of Malmö the most]. Sydsvenskan, April 17.
  30. Hearn, J., & Parkin, W. (2001). Gender, sexuality and violence in organizations. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. Heesch, K. C., Sahlqvist, S., & Garrard, J. (2011). Cyclists’ experiences of harassment from motorists: Findings from a survey of cyclists in Queensland, Australia. Preventive Medicine, 53(6), 417–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Henriksson, M. (2014). Att resa rätt är stort, att resa fritt är större: kommunala planerares föreställningar om hållbara resor [Travelling correctly is great, travelling freely is greater – Municipal planners’ images of sustainable mobility]. Dissertation, Linköping University.Google Scholar
  33. Jacobsen, P., Racioppi, F., & Rutter, H. (2009). Who owns the roads? How motorised traffic discourages walking and bicycling. Injury Prevention, 15(6), 369–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jain, S. (2005). Violent submission: Gendered automobility. Cultural Critique, 61, 187–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Joelsson, T. (2013). Space and sensibility: Young men’s risk-taking with motor vehicles. Dissertation, Linköping University.Google Scholar
  36. Kaijser, A. (2014). Who is marching for Pachamama? An intersectional analysis of environmental struggles in Bolivia under the government of Evo Morales. Dissertation, Lund University.Google Scholar
  37. Koglin, T. (2013). Vélomobility – A critical analysis of planning and space. Dissertation, Lund University.Google Scholar
  38. Koglin, T., & Rye, T. (2014). The marginalisation of bicycling in modernist urban transport planning. Journal of Transport & Health, 1, 214–222. Scholar
  39. Kronqvist, P. (2013). Cyklisthatet är livsfarligt [Cycling hate is fatal]. Expressen, June 7.Google Scholar
  40. Kronsell, A., Smidfelt Rosqvist, L., & Winslott Hiselius, L. (2015). Achieving climate objectives in transport policy by including women and challenging gender norms: The Swedish case. International Journal of Sustainable Transportation. Scholar
  41. Lee, D. J. (2016). Embodied bicycle commuters in a car world. Social and Cultural Geography, 17(3), 401–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lerner, T. (2016). För små ytor i trafiken skapar bråk och irritation [Too small spaces in traffic creates fuss and irritation]. Dagens Nyheter, April 12.Google Scholar
  43. Lindkvist Scholten, C., Koglin, T., Hult, H., & Tengheden, N. (2018). Cykelns plats i den kommunala planeringen [The place for bicycles in municipalities planning]. K2 Working papers 2018:5.Google Scholar
  44. Ljones, E. (2015). Bilist attackerade cyklister [Car driver attacked by cyclists]., May 15.
  45. Lugo, A. E. (2013). Body-city-machines: Human infrastructure for bicycling in Los Angeles. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of California.Google Scholar
  46. Lugo, A. E. (2016). Decentering whiteness in organized bicycling: Notes from the inside. In A. Golub, M. Hoffmann, A. Lugo, & G. Sandoval (Eds.), Bicycle justice and urban transformation: Biking for all? (pp. 180–188). Abingdon: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McCarthy, D. (2011). “I’m a normal person”: An examination of how utilitarian cyclists in Charleston South Carolina use an insider/outsider framework to make sense of risks. Urban Studies, 48(7), 1439–1455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mellström, U. (2004). Machines and masculine subjectivity: Technology as an integral part of men’s life experiences. In M. Lohan & W. Faulkner (Eds.). Masculinities and technologies. Special Issue. Men and Masculinities, 6(4), 368–382.Google Scholar
  49. Mouffe, C. (2005). On the political. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  50. Mouffe, C. (online). Agonistic democracy and radical politics. Pavilion Magazine.
  51. Nixon, D. (2014). Speeding capsules of alienation? Social (dis)connections amongst drivers, cyclists and pedestrians in Vancouver, BC. Geoforum, 54, 91–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pirttisalo, J. (2015). Vikande trend kan fälla Stockholms cykelmål [Slowdown may put Stockholm cycling goal on hold]. Svd, July 25.Google Scholar
  53. Polk, M. (2009). Gendering climate change through the transport sector. Women, Gender and Research, 18(3–4), 73–82.Google Scholar
  54. Prop 2008/09:93. Mål för framtidens resor och transporter [Goals for future travel and transport].
  55. Redshaw, S. (2008). In the company of cars: Driving as a social and cultural practice. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  56. Salazar, N. (2014). Anthropology. In P. Adey, D. Bisell, M. Sheller, K. Hannam, P. Merriman, & M. Sheller (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of mobilities (pp. 55–63). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  57. SCB, Statistiska centralbyrån. (2016). På tal om kvinnor och män; lathund in jämställdhet 2016 [Women and men in Sweden, facts and figures 2016].
  58. SOU. (2012:70). Ökad och säkrare cycling – en översyn av regler ur ett cykelperspektiv [Increased and safer cycling: An overview of rules from a cyclist perspective]. Stockholm: Fritzes.Google Scholar
  59. Spinney, J. (2010). Improvising rhythms: Re-reading urban time and space through everyday practices of cycling. In T. Edensor (Ed.), Geographies of rhythm: Nature, place, mobilities and bodies (pp. 113–127). Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  60. Steinbach, R., Green, J., Datta, J., & Edwards, P. (2011). Cycling and the city: A case study of how gendered, ethnic and class identities can shape healthy transport choices. Social Science & Medicine, 72(7), 1123–1130. Scholar
  61. Stigel, R. (2015). Cyklister i masskrock efter att ha körts på av smitare [Cyclists in mass crash after being hit by getaway man]. LS Södertälje, May 4.Google Scholar
  62. Svedberg, W. (2013). Ett (o)jämställt transportsystem i gränslandet mellan politik och rätt: en genusrättsvetenskaplig studie av rättslig styrning för jämställdhet inom vissa samhällsområden [A gender (un)equal transport system in the borderland between Policy and Law – A gender legal study of legal governance for gender equality in certain areas of society]. Dissertation, University of Gothenburg.Google Scholar
  63. Ternebom, E. (2013). Bilister har dålig förståelse för oss cyklister’ [Car drivers’ lack understanding for us cyclists]. Borås Tidning, August 10.Google Scholar
  64. Trafikanalys. (2015). RVU Sverige 2011–2014 – Den nationella resvaneundersökningen [RVU Sweden 2011–2014 – The national travel survey]. Statistik 2015:10.Google Scholar
  65. Trafikverket. (2014). Safer cycling: A common strategy for the period 2014–2020. Borlänge: Trafikverket.Google Scholar
  66. Trivector. (2014). Cykeln och cyklisten – omvärld och framtid [The bicycle and the cyclist: The surrounding world and the future], rapport 2014:103, Stockholm: Trivector.Google Scholar
  67. Willard, F. E. (1997[1895]). A wheel within a wheel: How I learned to ride a bicycle; with some reflections by the way. Bedford: Applewood Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Feminist Social Studies, School of Humanities, Education and Social SciencesÖrebro UniversityÖrebroSweden

Personalised recommendations