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The Idea of Place: Space and Culture 20th Anniversary Conference

These are the places in your neighbourhood: Bicycling and attachment to place Open Access


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Coleman, Karly
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place attachment
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Conference/workshop Presentation
Since a bicycle is one of the few things from childhood that is still potentially used in much the same way in adulthood, the experiential aspect of the user's attachment to their bicycle over time is a powerful generator of memory, emotion and also of place. This amalgam of memory, emotion, place, and continued, embodied use factors into the way in which a person becomes attached to their bicycle and uses it to help create their personal and social identities and attachment. Moreover, the bicycle can reinforce and show a person’s connection to, and disconnection from, other people and places. I interviewed 28 adult cyclists about their experiences of their bicycles which uncovered strong attachments to identity creation and places. Their bicycle use highlighted their relationships between the individual and their communities to the concept of place and history. My research showed the bicycle provides unique, embodied, experiential moments that augmented a person’s sense of connection and attachment to identity, people, and places. Their identities and attachment to places become intricately connected to where they have either lived or are currently living. People psychologically appropriate these places as particularly meaningful. Also, the complexity and continuity of interaction between the person, the bicycle, and the environment (both people and places) through which the person rides enhances their identities and attachment. Therefore, the bicycle is a vehicle in more than one sense. It is an actual vehicle. It is a vehicle for socio-psychological, symbolic information that is transmitted to the bicycle rider and others through use. It also becomes a vehicle whereby individuals can gain self-understanding while developing personal relationships with both other people and with wider communities. The bicycle becomes a hybrid experiential object providing embodied memories, experiences and cultural meanings: all of which are tools to strengthen one’s identity, relationships, placemaking and well-being.
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