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How planners plan: knowledge, devices and imaginaries in planning cycling infrastructures

Leitung Head Pim Peters, M.Sc. pim.peters@tum.de Professur für Partizipative Technikgestaltung Assistant Professorship for Participatory Technology Design Prof. Dr. phil. Ignacio Farías Hurtado +49.89.289.29213 ignacio.farias@tum.de www.mcts.tum.de/personen/ professuren/ignacio-farias

Context and question Cycling is high on policy agendas throughout the world. Yet, making space for cyclists on urban roads is a far more contested issue than is often assumed, for three reasons. First, there are two competing planning approaches, one advocates that cyclist and motorized traffic should be separated as much as possible, the other that they should share the same space. Which rationale should inform the design of particular streets is often ambiguous and contested in concrete projects. Second, designing road infrastructure is not a simple ‘copy pasting’ of what has worked in other places and times. Third, potential impacts on other types of road users makes redesigning streets to the benefit of cyclists prone to critique, and contestation. The cycling lane that was recently built on the Gabelsbergerstrasse, right next to TUM’s central campus, sparked a small controversy as local politicians argued that the impact on motorized traffic was insufficiently taken into account. Taking this into account, my PhD research project seeks to describe and analyze how planners plan and design urban road infrastructure, primarily based on theories developed within Science and Technology Studies (STS). I am particularly interested in two questions: First, how and to what degree planners make ‘decisions’ or, by contrast, implement general rules. The notion of decisions should here be understood in a Derridian sense, as involving a choice between at least two equally viable options. Second, how planners justify their actions in (relation to) moments of ‘crisis, disequilibrium, critique, dispute, or contestation’ (Boltanski & Thévenot, 2006). These two concepts, decisions and justifications, are key for approaching the politics of everyday planning processes, and how agreement over plans and designs is reached.

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Focus Area – Urban and Landscape Transformation

Analytical approach My research project can be situated in the socio-material constructivist tradition in STS. This perspective holds that the agency of any type of actor, including planners, is a relational achievement based on the co-functioning of human and non-human entities (Law, 1997). Planners, for example, work with models to make sense of the world and to make decisions. Planning operations can thus be understood as distributed over a human/non-human network. As a consequence, the research question of ‘how planners plan’ entails an inquiry into the hybrid collectives in which planners take part. Socio-material constructivism also refrains from any a priori rigid analytical frameworks. Therefore, my analytical approach is organized along five dimensions of which, for the sake of brevity, the three most important ones are: • KNOWLEDGE; I aim to understand how planners come to understand the world around them, that is how knowledge is produced and/or encountered and, especially, how incommensurability between different ways of knowing are dealt with. • DEVICES: I aim to focus on the various devices deployed in planning practice (such as models, maps, theories, papers, policy documents, regulations, and PowerPoints) and how they shape the processes involved. Computer models seem particularly interesting here as they have been argued to create points of contact between different ways of knowing (Harvey, 2009), but especially transportation models are often experienced as highly opaque (Brömmelstroet & Bertolini, 2011). • IMAGINARIES: I aim to study the shaping capacity of future imaginaries in relation to everyday life plan-

Profile for Fakultät für Architektur TU München

Jahrbuch 2015  

Jahrbuch der Fakultät für Architektur, TUM mit einem Schwerpunkt auf Forschung und Entwicklung

Jahrbuch 2015  

Jahrbuch der Fakultät für Architektur, TUM mit einem Schwerpunkt auf Forschung und Entwicklung

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