Safety in Motion: Uneven Landscapes of Perceived Risk Among a Sample of Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Automobile Commuters in Vancouver, BC

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This presentation discusses spaces of perceived interpersonal safety and collision risk across three modes of mobility, amongst a sample of commuters in Vancouver, BC. Forty-six pedestrian, cyclist, and driver commute narrative recordings, GPS logs, and interviews reveal differing senses of vulnerability. As expected, many participants describe automobilized environments as places of potential collision risk. More notably, however, the data reveals that spaces perceived as potentially dangerous to active mode users, particularly with respect to interpersonal violence, such as vulnerability to physical or sexual threats, may be rendered safer through continuous motion. In this way the polyrhythms of motion that create undesirable “invisibility” to drivers similarly hide the body from potential predators. Though not statistically generalizable, this theme appears more often amongst particular demographics, such as women commuters. Whereas the automobile carapace is shown to offer a heightened sense of safety, promotion of sustainable and just mobility demands alterations of transportation landscapes that alleviate real and perceived vulnerability. Several policy recommendations, such as the reduction of traffic controls and transit waits that force immobility in vulnerable times and places, are provided