My research project this quarter is going to broadly focus on “bicycles and community building.” So an initial big question driving my research is…
How might bicycles shape or influence one’s engagement with the place where they live?
This question comes from a couple of places. One is that I have made it a point —
uh oh…Here I feel I’m doing what I tend to discourage my students from doing which is jumping to quick to having an argument. I think I want to make the argument that the value of riding a bike is that it can shape or influence your relationship to a place. My sense is that someone else has already made this argument — multiple have I’m sure — its not particularly original. But the how here is worth exploring I think. It’s an idea that can be tested, I think, and that’s worthwhile. Not to mention that how riding a bike shapes my particular understanding and relationship to this specific place — Tacoma — is potentially unique, or again, if not unique at least worth exploring.
Another place is that sometime not long ago this article on the Ovarian Psychos came across my Facebook feed. I’m interested in this story and the role that a technology like the bicycle has played in it. So in some ways my big question might be — what is the story of bicycling and community building/engagement?
More specifically, I think I have a couple of things that I think will guide my research. One is the
So another initial question I have guiding this part of my research is:
How have Critical Mass rides influenced (or shaped) bike riding as an activist practice?
I’m not particularly happy with this question as it stands right now, but it’s a start. It seems like this question is going to require me to look into the origins and history of critical mass rides — something I know little to nothing about. I like the idea of doing some history work. I’ve participated in a few Critical Mass rides in the past, so my knowledge of the activity is based on this limited experience. My hope here is that Critical Mass gives a focused way that I can begin to explore some things related to my bigger question.
Another element of my research is something that you might call field work. I have recently started both volunteering and working on a bike building project at 2nd Cycle Community Cycle Center in the Hilltop neighborhood in Tacoma. I don’t know if I really have a specific question
Finally, my plan is to ride my bike more. Revive the neighborhood rides I had started in the Summer. Document these rides. Reflect on them. How do my experiences sync up to existing research on bike riding and community engagement?