Reactivating commuter cycling: COVID-19 pandemic disruption to everyday transport choices in Sydney, Australia

Publication Name

Journal of Transport Geography


The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent rollout of public health lockdown orders, social distancing measures, and general avoidance of crowded and enclosed places, like mass public transport, have disrupted everyday transport mobilities worldwide. This paper offers insights on the transformative potential of pandemic disruption on transport behaviours through the experiences of commuter cycling reactivation which took place in Sydney, Australia since March 2020. We combine sensory ethnography with Deleuze and Guattari's concept of the refrain to interpret the pandemic as an experimental reference point in the reactivation of commuter cycling, specifically with regards to timing, flow, and spacings. Experiences of commuter cycling in Sydney reveal how fear is attached to cycling bodies. The sensations of self that arise through such conflict are differentiated within and between gendered bodies and urban topography, elements, and infrastructure. We find that for reactivated cyclists, the ability to fashion commuter cycling territories as safe and efficient is an ongoing experimental process of temporal and spatial segregation and separation. In this regard, the pandemic rendered concrete new possibilities of everyday commuting, but these remained constrained by popular discourses relating to cycling and cyclists.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



Article Number


Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



Link to publisher version (DOI)