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Governing mobilities on the UK canal network

Kaaristo, Maarja and Medway, Dominic and Burton, Jamie and Rhoden, Steven and Bruce, Helen L (2020) Governing mobilities on the UK canal network. Mobilities. pp. 1-18. ISSN 1745-0101

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Abstract

This paper examines mobility governance in an environment where varied mobility practices occur. Drawing on a quasi-ethnography of canal users in England and Wales, we discuss how multiple mobilities (including boating, walking, cycling and running) are practised in the relatively confined and linear spaces of canals and adjacent towpaths, and often at the same time. We demonstrate how these different yet intertwined modes of movement, and their associated tempos, are governed through creative interplays of freedom and control, and hierarchy and etiquette. These findings give rise to wider questions regarding the potentialities of governmobility – i.e. a system in which mobilities are able to govern themselves. Our conclusion, therefore, explores how the governance of mobilities on the UK canal network might offer insight, or a ‘watery blueprint’, for mobility governance in other shared spaces. This includes exploring the debates between giving citizens greater freedom and agency to negotiate their own mobility juxtapositions and tensions, versus imposing upon them stricter rule-based systems of mobility regulation.

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