From Cognitive Laziness to Cognitive Leniency
How can we move away from the focus on growth and efficiency when it gets to mobility and identify new ways of thinking about it?
Current mobility patterns are rapidly depleting individuals, cities, global resources and the environment. The achievement of the much needed radical transformation of this requires a profound reimagination of the societal futures collectively accepted as desirable. However, the way that we talk and think about mobility is narrowly framed around the notion that ‘being underway’ is a disutility. Experts, politicians, innovators and the general public tend to highlight the role of mobility in economic and urban growth, individual speed and system efficiency. This focus obscures the role of mobility in reproducing inequalities, and in driving unsustainable developments on a global scale.
So, how can we move away from this? How can we identify new ways of thinking around mobility, nurture them, and amplify their potential impact? As Donella Meadows suggested, this is where the deepest leverage points for system change lie (see figure). The Laboratory of Thought aims to generate mobility narratives that are understandable, attractive, motivational and possible. These narratives should not be top-down imposed perspectives of societal elites, but instead be developed through participatory and democratic processes of deliberation. Find out more why this is important and how we will do this in this Open Access academic paper.
More to explore
The lab of thought recommends
- Follow and engage with social media accounts that question the language we use to talk about streets, such as those of Tom Flood (who is also flipping the script on road violence), Strong Towns, Jan Kamensky. Follow Marco te Brömmelstroet as Cycling Professor on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tiktok, Reddit.
- Share information on the website roaddanger.org by adding news items on crashes and other traffic accidents that you come across in the media. By doing so, you can help raise awareness of how people write and talk about such events — often in a dehumanised way, despite the long-term, deep, and wide-ranging impact they have.
- More inspiring accounts: Playing Out, Modacity, Monkey Wrench Gang and The War on Cars.
- Read Marco te Brömmelstroet's free e-book, which forms the academic basis for The Movement.
- Take a look at the Groningen Guideline for Public Space, which refers to nine other dimensions in addition to that of mobility: accessibility, safety, human perception, health, social interaction, ecology, climate adaptation, economy, and cultural history. Learn to identify these various dimensions and to look at them as a whole.
- Read Metaphors We Live By (George Lakoff and Mark Johnson), Thinking in Systems (Donella H. Meadows), Fighting Traffic: the dawn of the motor age in the American city and Autonorama: the illusory promise of high-tech driving (Peter Norton), and New Power: how power works in our hyper-connected world (Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms).
- Watch the Ted Talk How language shapes the way we think (Lera Boroditsky).
- Follow one or more of the MOOCs offered by the University of Amsterdam: Unravelling the Cycling City, Alternative Mobility Narratives, and Reclaiming the Street for Liveable Urban Spaces or Getting Smart about Cycling Futures.
BECOME A THINKER OF TOMORROW
There is an urgent need to rethink our thinking about mobility. The current expectations on mobility innovations are often rooted in the advances in digital technology and are generally greeted with eager optimism. Unfortunately what is often overlooked are the unmet needs of humans and our planet. The Lab of Thought attempts to explain mobility from this standpoint, so we as individuals and as societies lessen our impact on the planet, now and in the future.