Automated busses to mobilize a suburb

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Abstract

In 2018, an automated bus will be implemented in the suburb of Aalborg East, Denmark. The bus will run a 2.1 km long test path on a central cycle- and footpath. The implementation is one outcome of an extensive urban transformation process of the functionalist suburb, led by Aalborg Municipality and social housing organizations. The test embeds three visions:
First, the bus shall help mobilize citizens and users, internally in the district and between the district and the rest of Aalborg. It shall support aspirations to create a more cohesive district where increased mobility is a tool to prevent segregation and strengthen social capital.
Second, the test path is a key urban space in the suburban structure. The bus reverses the functionalist logic of traffic segregation, and the transformation of the path and its near surroundings is anticipated to increase ‘livability’.
Third, applying innovative technology is considered a lever to boost the image of the district. The driverless bus is anticipated to create positive attention and publicity about the neighborhood, which tend to be associated with insecurity and other social housing challenges.
This paper is the first early step to analyze the accomplishment of these visions. Based on an ongoing qualitative evaluation of the effects of the implementation, we focus on the assemblage of people, city and technology in analyzing how the new infrastructure will become part of the existing urban area and everyday lives in the suburb. The paper presents initiating findings, and invite a discussion about the research perspectives.
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In 2018, an automated bus will be implemented in the suburb of Aalborg East, Denmark. The bus will run a 2.1 km long test path on a central cycle- and footpath. The implementation is one outcome of an extensive urban transformation process of the functionalist suburb, led by Aalborg Municipality and social housing organizations. The test embeds three visions:
First, the bus shall help mobilize citizens and users, internally in the district and between the district and the rest of Aalborg. It shall support aspirations to create a more cohesive district where increased mobility is a tool to prevent segregation and strengthen social capital.
Second, the test path is a key urban space in the suburban structure. The bus reverses the functionalist logic of traffic segregation, and the transformation of the path and its near surroundings is anticipated to increase ‘livability’.
Third, applying innovative technology is considered a lever to boost the image of the district. The driverless bus is anticipated to create positive attention and publicity about the neighborhood, which tend to be associated with insecurity and other social housing challenges.
This paper is the first early step to analyze the accomplishment of these visions. Based on an ongoing qualitative evaluation of the effects of the implementation, we focus on the assemblage of people, city and technology in analyzing how the new infrastructure will become part of the existing urban area and everyday lives in the suburb. The paper presents initiating findings, and invite a discussion about the research perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Annual International Conference, Cardiff University
Publication date1 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedNo

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