ESRC Award 2006-08: Sensing Risk: Driver-Walker and Walker-Driver Interactions in the City
Principal Investigator: Dr. Fiona Magowan; Co-Investigator: Professor Hastings Donnan
Walking and driving are essential means of everyday movement and social practice that entail varying degrees of risk. This study compares the sensory experience of walking the city with driving the city in order to understand how walkers and drivers interpret and evaluate risk in relation to one another. The visual cues of changing road signs; the kinetic experiences of speed and time; and embodied reactions to the urban soundscape generate knowledge about what kinds of risks might be taken.
The study investigates how people make sense of the ways in which they walk and drive in terms of how risks are valued, sensed and experienced by day and night; how risky interactions are dependent upon speed, time and direction; and how senses of risk create movement-memories over time. Ethnographic research will concentrate on the city of Belfast which offers a broad range of urban and rural spaces for residents as well as rejuvenated spaces that were once ‘dead’ areas of ground to walkers and drivers but have now been opened up by new arterial routes, and river walkways.