The languishing bike: depleting capacities of cycling-bodies

Publication Name

Social and Cultural Geography


This article focuses on what may be depleting people’s capacity to ride a bike in cities. ‘Capacity to cycle’ is here understood not as a behavioural trait or in terms of infrastructure provision, but, taking our lead from Deleuze and Guattari, as a desiring cycling-machine. We argue this offers a way to envisage depleting, or enhancing, capacities to cycle as a working socio-material arrangement that make, remake, and unmake cycling-bodies and spaces. The article draws upon mixed-qualitative research conducted with 18 adults who own bikes in 2019, but no longer ride in the City of Sydney, Australia. Three vignettes draw attention to the opposing forces that support and dissolve cycling bodily capacities over the course of repeated, routine city bike journeys. We illustrate those depleting bodily capacities to cycle for transport involve sensations of the self, pedalling through space. It follows that a shift towards cycling mobilities demands related incorporation into planning of the transformative impacts of the near-at-hand and social norms.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



Link to publisher version (DOI)