Legal Geographies of the American “Right-of-Way”



Prytherch explores the legislative frameworks that create and define streets, and how particular assumptions about mobility give shape to street spaces. The chapter traces changing legal and design assumptions about what roadways are for and whom they should serve, set in context of the historical evolution of the American street as physical and legal space for cars. It provides a critical review of the Uniform Vehicle Code, which defines the nature and purpose of the public roadway, legitimate users, and the allocation of street spaces for particular modes of travel. He analyzes diverse state statutes modeled on the Uniform Vehicle Code. Critical analysis of traffic codes in relation to mobility justice reveals how such statutes codify the asymmetrical and unjust power geometries of automobility. Mobility injustice on the American roadway is, Prytherch suggests, built upon a very firm statutory foundation.


  1. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. 2017. History of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD). Last Accessed November 29, 2017.
  2. Delaney, David. 2016. Legal Geography II. Progress in Human Geography 40 (2): 267–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Hannam, Kevin, Mimi Sheller, and John Urry. 2006. Editorial: Mobilities, Immobilities and Moorings. Mobilities 1 (1): 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. McShane, Clay. 1994. Down the Asphalt Path: The Automobile and the American City. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Mumford, Lewis. 1961. The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.Google Scholar
  6. National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. 2015. Uniform Vehicle Code: Rules of the Road. Last Accessed June 9, 2017.
  7. National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances. 2000. Uniform Vehicle Code. Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  8. Norton, Peter. 2008. Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City. Cambridge: The MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GeographyMiami UniversityOxfordUSA

Personalised recommendations