Commoning mobility: Towards a new politics of mobility transitions

Anna Nikolaeva, Peter Adey, Tim Cresswell, Jane Jeonjae Lee, Andre Novoa, Cristina Temenos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scholars have argued that transitions to more sustainable and just mobilities require moving beyond technocentrism to rethink the very meaning of mobility in cities, communities, and societies. This paper demonstrates that such rethinking is inherently political. In particular, we focus on recent theorisations of commoning practices that have gained traction in geographic literatures. Drawing on our global comparative research of low‐carbon mobility transitions, we argue that critical mobilities scholars can rethink and expand the understanding of mobility through engagement with commons–enclosure thinking. We present a new concept, “commoning mobility,” a theorisation that both envisions and shapes practices that develop fairer and greener mobilities and more inclusive, collaboratively governed societies. Our analysis introduces three “logics” of mobility transition projects. First, the paper discusses how a logic of scarcity has been a driver for mobility planning as the scarcity of oil, finance, space, and time are invoked across the world as stimuli for aspiring to greener, “smarter,” and cheaper mobilities. The paper then identifies two responses to the logic of scarcity: the logics of austerity and the logics of commoning. Austere mobilities are examined to problematise the distribution of responsibility for emissions and ensuing injustices and exclusion in low‐carbon transitions. The logics of commoning shows a potential to reassess mobility not only as an individual freedom but also as a collective good, paving the way for fairer mobility transitions and a collaborative tackling of sustainable mobility challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-360
Number of pages15
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number2
Early online date5 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

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