The landscape returns the gaze
Bikescapes and the new economies
This paper looks at bikescapes – and particularly dockless share bikes – with a focus on their rapid proliferation and subsequent partial demise in Sydney. Four principal themes emerged from this study: first, bikes are an important part of the cityscape, and studies of urban semiotics need to take greater account of modes of transport. Second, the rise of docked and dockless share bikes has changed the ways the city is felt and perceived: as bikes circulate within the city, these shifting bikescapes make visible changes to the physical city environment. The ebb and flow of dockless bikes – from neat alignments to dispersed arrangements – provide an insight into changing patterns of work, leisure, and mobility, and present entropic rather than ordered city processes. Third, these bikes became significant discourse markers, material artefacts where discourses of consumption, convenience, contamination, and co-operation intersect. Dockless share bikes sit at the hub of a tussle over public and private ownership of space and information, in terms both of their physical incursion into public space and as syphons of personal information. Finally, they suggest not only that aspects of the cityscape may play an active role in semiotic networks, but that the semiotic landscape may be returning our gaze.
Published online: 12 November 2019
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