Power and the vélorution: cycling advocacy, social networking and grassroots change in Winnipeg, MB
Kliewer, Karin Jonelle
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Bike to the Future is an Active Transportation advocacy organization in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Since its incorporation in 2007, active transportation attitudes, policies, funding, and infrastructure have improved substantially in the city. Many successes have been attributed to this organization, representatives of which are now considered to be the Winnipeg experts in cycling infrastructure and policy creation. This thesis explores how people who use (or want to use) a comparatively marginalized traffic form empowered themselves and spurred on positive changes to cycling policy and infrastructure. The literature review offers a larger context for the importance of power analysis, collaborative planning and the work of Bike to the Future. This provides a framework overview of power discussions in planning discourse, and connects heterarchical power structures to collaborative planning theory and strategic networking. Research for this project involved a case study of the work of Bike to the Future. Four different research methods were employed during different stages of research, including media and literature searches (of news sources, blogs, and planning literature), a case study, semi-structured interviews, and participant observation. The work of Bike to the Future has also shown that influence can be strengthened when different power resources—powers of knowledge, speech, place, and political and market powers – are used. The value of using different power structures, hierarchical and heterarchical, is highlighted. In order to be most effective, this study suggests all structures and resources must be used cooperatively and collaboratively. Because of its ability to engage wide audiences, recognize interdependence, and connect the different types of knowledge and expertise, Bike to the Future can be understood as a collaborative success. Although at the time of this study, this organization was susceptible to volunteer schedules and burnout, its networking potential and networking power was strong. These will continue to be major assets in the evolution of this organization evolution. Lessons learned from this research process may be useful for many other groups seeking to expand their influence in decision-making realms and on multiple fronts.
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