Dams and bicycles: Environmental politics and contested mobilities on the Four Rivers Bikeway in South Korea

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What if cycling infrastructure such as nationwide bikeways becomes part of an engineering project that is an antithesis of sustainability? How do cyclists reconcile between their pride in cycling as a healthy way of appreciating nature and the environmental destruction observed along their cycling paths? This paper complicates the familiar characterization of cycling as easily compatible with sustainability agenda by examining South Korean cyclists’ response to the construction of the Four Rivers Bikeway. The Bikeway was planned as a part of the Four Rivers Restoration Project, the largest and most controversial environmental engineering work in the nation’s history. Whereas environmental groups, academics, and concerned citizens strongly opposed the so-called restoration project for its potentially devastating impact on the rivers’ ecosystem, many cyclists welcomed and then enjoyed the nationwide network of cycling paths built along the rivers. In doing so, the cyclists came to consider the new bicycle haven as a space insulated from broader environmental politics within which their riding was made possible. The healthy, nature-loving cyclists on the Four Rivers Bikeway manifested a peculiar kind of “cycling citizenship”–“the links people make between cycling and the worlds outside the bicycle”–that endorsed the state’s investment in cycling infrastructure while evading the question of the state’s responsibility for environmental destruction. This paper suggests that the future sustainability of cycling may not be considered separately from the broader concerns for environmental sustainability and the inevitable political debates around it. © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
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Applied Mobilities, v.7, no.3, pp.215 - 232

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STP-Journal Papers(저널논문)
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