Addressing Cycles of Inequality: A Talk on Mobility Justice featuring Mimi Sheller

Bike path along LA river with rider in the distance

Event Date

International Center Multipurpose Room, UC Davis

A Talk on Mobility Justice featuring Mimi Sheller

Day One:  Keynote Talk by critical mobilities scholar Mimi Sheller, author of Mobility Justice: The Politics of Movement in an Age of Extremes.

1:10pm - 3:00pm, with short reception to follow.   Event Livestream


Day Two:  Workshop  Participants will collaborate at a closed workshop to produce an interdisciplinary mobility justice research agenda that draws on bike equity and racial justice. 


Day One:  Keynote Talk

The Kinopolitics of Cycling Infrastructure: Creating Space for Mobility Justice

Mimi Sheller

Professor of Sociology, Drexel University
Director, Center for Mobilities Research and Policy

Event Livestream

Transport planners and policy makers have embraced cycling for its many benefits, from easing congestion and reducing carbon emissions to improving air quality and individual health; yet most cities are still dominated by the system of motorized automobility (even the most “cycle-friendly” European cities). This gap between aims and outcomes occurs because cycling policies are necessarily entangled with deeper questions about cities and citizenship, spatial justice and mobility justice. Modes of transport are part of complex constellations of material movement, cultural meanings, competencies and social practices all of which are deeply shaped by historical patterns of racialized, sexed, classed, and gendered status and power. Especially in “white settler” societies grounded in coloniality, we cannot escape the politics of infrastructure, part of a wider “kinopolitics” involving the struggles for mobility justice through which political subjects are mobilized. Recent urban social movements in several North American cities have criticized active transport and new mobility policies (including the implementation of bike share, bike lanes, and Vision Zero) for their exclusionary effects. Through more equitable practices of community-based, anti-racist, women-led, and LGBTQ-friendly cycling advocacy, these movements shift attention away from bicycling solely as transport, and focus more on the role of cycling in building health, supporting local economies and community, and strengthening frayed social infrastructure. This talk will open a space for thinking about reparative justice, racial justice, and gender and sexual equity, as crucial to advancing post-car and post-carbon futures through cycling policies and projects grounded in mobility justice.

Mimi Sheller, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology and founding Director of the Center for Mobilities Research and Policy at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She is founding co-editor of the journal Mobilities and past President of the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility. She is author or co-editor of twelve books, including Island Futures: Caribbean Survival in the Anthropocene (Duke University Press, 2020); Mobility Justice: The Politics of Movement in an Age of Extremes (Verso, 2018); Aluminum Dreams: The Making of Light Modernity  (MIT Press, 2014); Citizenship from Below: Erotic Agency and Caribbean Freedom (Duke University Press, 2012); Consuming the Caribbean: From Arawaks to Zombies (Routledge, 2003); and Democracy After Slavery: Black Publics and Peasant Radicalism in Haiti and Jamaica (Macmillan Caribbean, 2000).  Sheller helped to establish the new interdisciplinary field of mobilities research. She was awarded the Doctor Honoris Causa from Roskilde University, Denmark (2015). She has received research funding from the National Science Foundation, the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Macarthur Foundation, the Mobile Lives Forum, and the Graham Foundation in Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. She has held Visiting Fellowships at the University of Miami (2019); the Annenberg School of Communication at University of Pennsylvania (2016); the Penn Humanities Forum (2010); the Center for Mobility and Urban Studies at Aalborg University, Denmark (2009); Media@McGill, Canada (2009); the Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University (2008); and Swarthmore College (2006-2009).



Day Two: Workshop

Participants include:

  • Jesus Barajas
  • Madeline Brozen
  • Genevieve Carpio
  • Tim Choi
  • Gordon Douglas
  • C. Sequoia Erasmus
  • Jaimey Fisher
  • Peter Garcia
  • Susan Handy
  • Josephine Hazelton
  • Melody Hoffman
  • Do Lee
  • Amy Lubitow
  • Adonia Lugo
  • Alejandro Manga Tinoco
  • Sarah Rebolloso McCullough
  • Susan Pike
  • Dana Rowangoul

The workshop will consider how frameworks of mobility justice and racial justice offer new pathways toward creating more robust research models for bike equity and sustainable transportation futures. In a two-day convening, we will engage in deep discussion about how bicycling researchers can account for the complexity of equity with the goal of making bicycling, new mobilities, and other modes of sustainable transportation accessible and desirable for all. The goals of the event will be (1) to develop new collaborative research relationships, (2) to develop a shared research agenda that presumes the centrality of equity and justice for sustainable transportation futures, and (3) to share insights with our broader communities and track their impact. 

Addressing histories of injustice and ongoing systemic inequalities is crucial to creating lasting sustainable transportation solutions such as bicycling. Mobility justice and racial justice offer powerful frameworks that account for how complex systems of history, power, and oppression affect people’s movement and ability to live, work, and play. Mobility justice emerged simultaneously from the field of critical mobilities studies and from a collective of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) working in bicycling and sustainable transportation. Mobility justice examines how the racialized histories of cities and transportation systems limit the mobilities of certain communities in uneven ways. Racial justice scholarship seeks to account for how histories of colonialism and ongoing structures of white supremacy have produced systems of inequality for communities of color. It also examines alternative models that undo harmful practices and foster healing.

The nexus of mobility justice, racial justice, bike equity, and sustainable transportation futures motives us to ask questions such as the following:

  • What questions do mobility justice and racial justice frameworks raise for current frameworks within bike equity research?

  • How can questions of equity and justice be made central to research, policy & practices on smart/connected cities, autonomous vehicles, and other emergent new mobility systems?

  • How can we adopt a more intersectional approach that takes into account multiple vectors of oppression within their historical and situational context?

  • How do we account for and challenge hierarchies of expertise that have historically disempowered BIPOC communities within the development and life of transportation systems? 

  • How do we produce, use, and analyze data that is humanizing and better accounts for the complexity and diversity of human experience?

  • How do we ensure that the ways we collect and use data contribute to greater mobility, particularly for those whose mobility is historically and currently constricted?

  • What kinds of research questions fundamentally challenge colonial and patriarchal systems of exploitation and harm?

This event is hosted by the National Center for Sustainable Transportation, the UC Davis Institute for Transportation Studies and the UC Davis Feminist Research Institute

Invited Participants:

Jesus Barajas

Jesus M. Barajas (he/him/his) is an assistant professor in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on understanding the transportation needs of marginalized communities and how planning and policy shape travel behavior.

Madeline Brozen

Madeline Brozen is a transportation researcher and serves as deputy director for the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies. Her research focuses on understanding the travel and mobility needs for under-studied groups of people and modes, with the goal of connecting academic research with decision-makers and advocates alike.

Genevieve Carpio

Dr. Genevieve Carpio (she/her/hers) is Assistant Professor of Chicana/o Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she works on questions related to spatial theory, relational racial formation, and 20th century U.S. history. She holds a PhD in American Studies and Ethnicity, a Masters in Urban Planning, and a graduate certificate in Historic Preservation. She has published in American Quarterly, Journal of American History, Journal of Urban Affairs, and Information, Communication and Society, among other venues. She currently serves on the editorial board of Geohumanities, a journal of the American Association of Geographers, and as a reviewer for several academic journals. Carpio is author of Collisions at the Crossroads: How Place and Mobility Make Race (University of California Press, 2019).

Tim Choi

Systems-based thinker working on inside-outside strategies to build community wealth, health, and public safety. Pronouns: he/him/his.

Gordon Douglas

Gordon Douglas (he/him/his) is an assistant professor of urban and regional planning at San José State University, where he also serves as director of the Institute for Metropolitan Studies. Gordon’s research, teaching, and community work focus on questions of social equity and cultural identity in urban planning and development. He is the author of The Help-Yourself City: Legitimacy and Inequality in DIY Urbanism (Oxford 2018) and his writing and photography have appeared in publications such as City and Community, Urban Studies, the Journal of Urban Design, and a variety of magazines, newspapers, and blogs. Gordon received his doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago and also holds degrees from the University of Southern California and the London School of Economics. He lives with his family in Oakland.

C. Sequoia Erasmus

Sequoia (she/her/hers) is a current Master's student in the Community Development and Transportation Technology and Policy Graduate Groups. An urban dweller by circumstance, Sequoia's love for nature is what motivates her to pursue research that helps reconnect all people to land and natural cycles. Working at the intersection of policy, planning, landscape design, and public health, Sequoia aims to continue collaborations that make the world a better place by promoting community-based, justice-oriented solutions that improve equity promote peace. Sequoia loves exploring the world on her bike, meeting new plants, and lifelong learning.

Jaimy Fischer

I (she/her/they/them) live as a grateful guest on the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people, in British Columbia, Canada. I am a PhD student in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, training as an epidemiologist interested in the link between health, transportation, and city design. My graduate work will investigate how investment in All Ages and Abilities (AAA) bicycle infrastructure impacts ridership, safety, and equity outcomes. A major focus of my work will be to critically interrogate the equity impacts of investing in bicycle infrastructure for different population groups, specifically, how urban Indigenous communities experience and perceive bicycling in the built environment. My research interests include Indigenous quantitative methods, decolonization in practice, community based participatory research, citizen science, and GIScience.

Susan Handy 

Susan Handy (she/her/hers) teaches in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California at Davis. Her research focuses on the relationships between transportation and land use, particularly the impact of land use on travel behavior, and on strategies for reducing automobile dependence. Her recent work includes a series of studies on bicycling in Davis, a study of the effects of the opening of the first “big box” store in Davis, the development of a method for estimating vehicle trip generation for “smart growth” development projects in California, and an assessment of the available evidence on the effects of land use and transportation strategies on reducing vehicle travel and greenhouse gas emissions. She serves on the Committee on Women’s Transportation Issues and the Committee on Transportation Education of the Transportation Research Board.

Josephine Hazelton

Josephine K. Hazelton (she/her/hers) is a PhD Student of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Her research interests center around questions of social justice in transportation planning and policymaking. Specifically, Josephine is interested in the role transportation administrators play in advancing mobility justice in car-centric urban environments. Her current research explores issues of gender equity in public transit service provision. Josephine is originally from Northern California and holds a BA in Political Science and Master of Public Administration from California State University, Stanislaus.

Melody Hoffmann

Read Melody’s bio at her producer page for the podcast Feminist Killjoys, PhD

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Do Lee

Dr. Do Jun Lee (he/him/his) is an Assistant Professor and Graduate Advisor at the Department of Urban Studies at Queens College.  His research has focused on a participatory action research project with immigrant food delivery cyclists in NYC to examine the mobility and working experiences in the NYC streets from the food delivery perspective.  This work investigated the intersections of low-wage informal employment, delivery and logistics, bicycling and electric bikes, immigration, policing and Vision Zero, street planning, and social justice activism and advocacy.

Amy Lubitow

Amy Lubitow (she/her/hers) is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Portland State University. She teaches courses and conducts research on issues related to transportation justice, environmental justice, and social sustainability. Her most recent research projects examine: 1) gendered and sexual harassment and racial discrimination experienced by bicyclists; trans and gender nonconforming public transit users experiences riding transit; and 3) exploring ways to make household transportation surveys reach broader populations.

Adonia E. Lugo

Cultural anthropologist Adonia E. Lugo (she/her/hers) is Interim Chair of the Urban Sustainability MA program at Antioch University Los Angeles. Adonia is also an advisory board co-chair with People for Mobility Justice, board president of the Beverly Vermont Community Land Trust, a core organizer of The Untokening, and a team member at social justice planning firm Pueblo. Her book, Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance, was published in 2018.

Alejandro Manga Tinoco

I (he/him/his) have participated with People for Mobility Justice in Los Angeles and I just started a PHD focusing on how to promote alternative mobilities with a mobility justice perspective with Mimi Sheller. I have participated with advocates in France, the US, Switzerland and Colombia.

Sarah Rebolloso McCullough

Sarah Rebolloso McCullough (she/her/hers) is the Associate Director of the Feminist Research Institute, a Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies and an affiliate of the Institute for Transportation Studies at UC Davis. She is conducting sociocultural research on mobility justice and transportation equity, particularly as it relates to sustainable and active transportation. Areas of expertise involve the influence of culture on science and technology, with a focus on technological innovation. She is finishing a book on the role of privilege, pleasure and the appropriate technology movement on the innovation of mountain biking.

Susan Pike

Susie Pike (she/her/hers) works at the intersections of environmental policy, travel behavior and sustainable transportation. Dr. Pike's doctoral work focused on social influence in transportation mode choice as a potential tool for sustainable transportation programs. She currently studies the adoption of on-demand ride-hailing services and the impacts of these services on the use of other modes of transportation; stakeholder perspectives on policies that would increase the use of ride-splitting or pooled on-demand service; and public transportation partnerships with ridehailing companies to identify best practices for demand responsive public transportation programs.

Dana Rowangould

Dana Rowangould (she/her/hers) is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Vermont. Drawing from the fields of engineering, economics, and the social sciences, Dr. Rowangould's research focuses on transportation and land use policy and planning, environmental justice, energy use, active travel, transportation accessibility, air quality and health. Dana is also a founding principal of Sustainable Systems Research, an independent consulting firm that works with nonprofit organizations and public agencies to evaluate the health, environmental, and equity impacts of transportation systems.

Mimi Sheller

Mimi Sheller, Ph.D. (she/her/hers) is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Mobilities Research and Policy at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Before coming to Drexel she began her career at Lancaster University in the UK (1999-2006), and was Visiting Associate Professor at Swarthmore College (2006-2009), and is past President of the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (2014-2017). Her most recent book is Mobility Justice: The Politics of Movement in an Age of Extremes (Verso, 2018). Sheller's research began in Caribbean Studies, focusing on historical and comparative study of democratization, popular political participation, and colonial cultural political economies. This includes her books Democracy After Slavery: Black Publics and Peasant Radicalism in Haiti and Jamaica (University Press of Florida, 2000, CHOICE award 2002), Consuming the Caribbean: from Arawaks to Zombies (Routledge, 2003), Citizenship from Below: Erotic Agency and Caribbean Freedom (Duke University Press, 2012), and Aluminum Dreams: The Making of Light Modernity (MIT Press, 2014). Her recent work addresses the coloniality of Caribbean climate change in the forthcoming book Island Futures: Caribbean Survival in the Anthropocene (Duke University Press, 2020). Secondly, Sheller helped to found the new interdisciplinary field of "mobilities research",  focusing on how power is exercised through im/mobilities, differential mobility regimes, and uneven infrastructures that (re)produce social inequalities. In addition to foundational articles such as “The New Mobilities Paradigm” (Sheller & Urry 2006) and “Mobilities, Immobilities Moorings” (Hannam, Sheller & Urry 2006), she published a series of co-edited books: Tourism Mobilities (Sheller & Urry, 2004), Mobile Technologies of the City (Sheller & Urry 2006), The Routledge Handbook of Mobilities (Adey, Bissell, Hannam, Merriman, Sheller 2014), Mobility and Locative Media (De Souza e Silva & Sheller 2015), and Mobilities and Complexities (Jensen, Kesselring & Sheller, 2018).