CfP UAF, Lisbon, 2019

“Please mind the gap between the train and the platform”

Surely, if you heard that phrase with your eyes closed, you would know you are in the London Underground. That iconic phrase has inspired many artists in recent years and is infiltrated in thousands of films and TV series having the city as a scenario. It is not the only phrase we can find in different modes of transport, both public and private, and often accompanied by colorful characters such as the Paris metro bunny, who asks us to respect other users.

Public transportation is a reflection of contemporary societies, postindustrial cities and the high need to travel long distances in the shortest time possible, commute from the center to the periphery, or simply visit a city in a tourist way. There are many types of transport available today, but it seems that we could concentrate on private and public transport, individual and collective (motorized and não motorized). Each transport is associated with a different type of user, of practice, of social class … and each one also hides a history and its own dynamics.

Without a doubt, moving means time; but at the same time, space. But we must not forget that it also means big companies, monopolies of transport systems, privatizations of public transport companies, conflicts between operators and concessionaires, strikes, delays, stress … A whole conglomerate of hostile situations, which are not framed at any land design nor any architecture concept: sometimes dark places, soulless, a non-place as Augé would call it. On the other hand, we can see it as meeting points, who has not given an appointment to a beloved person in a metro station?

In recent years new forms of transport have emerged: some reinvent themselves, others take advantage of opportunities to complete a salary. Companies of the circular economy grow to the detriment of taxi drivers, generating conflict for their permanence. The cobbled streets of Lisbon are filled with tuk tuks, and Amsterdam increases its bicycle rental park every year. Sharing is moving in the city, but nothing like moving alone, “get going” and get lost in the streets of Buenos Aires. Although … walking alone can also be dangerous, depending on where we walk and more if we have a problem that limits our mobility. Cities were not always thought for all people.

Smart transports promise to reduce accidents, the main cause of death in many Western societies. Accidents and traffic are the subjects of the news, they are tragic, and rethinking transportation is an important need. The monitoring and control of traffic is necessary for the balance on the road, can we get to mechanize this?

Transport infrastructures are important and they are very different, from bridges to roads, roads, highways, airways, water … the human being has designed a map of routes to get from one place to another. People, objects, goods travel constantly in a non-stop, often locatable through applications, websites, and GPS services.

The way to navigate the city, the world has changed with new technologies. The maps fit in the palm of our hand and they even talk to us and tell us how to avoid radars. New technologies allow us to pay tolls quickly, to find a flight for little money, and have infiltrated our daily lives without hardly realizing it.

Going home to school, from work to the supermarket … we usually think about doing this with our own vehicle (who has it, because it is necessary to have licenses and considerable capital to keep it). But … who has not ordered food at home? New services of fast transport arise to help us with small and big daily tasks, they change us the daily life.

Driving and feeling the wind on your face is, perhaps, one of the best-known ideas of those who love automobiles. High speed and dynamism, coupled with sports adrenaline are things that captivate bikers. It is common to find groups and associations of friends that gather around these machines. But is it the same for everyone? Recently the veto on women to drive was lifted in the countries of the Middle East, generating much controversy and putting the issue of gender in transport. Even today, in some countries, it is surprising to get on a bus and find a female driver. There are also many prejudices about women at the wheel and even more so when they are transport-professionals.

Although many people travel, frequently for reasons of work or pleasure, others prefer to stay at home, even reaching the point of the so-called hikikomori (hermit) who never leave their rooms. Sedentary presents the other side of a mobile society.

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