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Title: The traffic problem : geographies, politics and technologies of congestion in twentieth-century London
Author: Rooney, David John
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis examines traffic congestion in twentieth-century London. Ideas about movement, mobility and circulation in the capital's streets intersect with a broad range of discourses and practices, from planning to policing, and from engineering to economics. Within these discourses, characterizations of congestion are political acts, and proposed solutions therefore represent political as well as geographical and technological world views. The thesis opens with an examination of the experience of congestion in twentieth-century London, setting up the 'traffic problem', before surveying the ways traffic congestion has been considered in the history of urban planning, the dominant discourse in which this topic is explored. Common themes have emerged from this close reading of the planning literature, including geographies of governance and the relationship between London-wide bodies and local authorities; technologies of congestion and notions of grids, surveillance, verticality and technological progress; segregation and control of different classes of people and vehicles; and the politics and financing of roads and mobility. The subsequent four chapters therefore examine 'solutions' of the traffic problem from a set of disciplinary points of view suggested by these themes, namely police officers, highway engineers, systems analysts, and political economists (although the boundaries between the groups are highly permeable). In each instance, detailed case studies of geographical places and technological structures are used to ground the discussions of disciplinary discourses and point to their limits. A fifth chapter then returns to the professional planning discourse and draws together these themes, examining how plans to reduce congestion in London have been negotiated into reality. The concluding chapter looks at the situation in London today and in the near future. It includes accounts from current practitioners in each of the disciplinary fields studied, and gives a sense of the long-term continuity of these wider concerns - the fact that characterizations of congestion are themselves historical artefacts which travel through time.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Traffic ; Congestion ; Planning ; London ; Infrastructure