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The forgotten role of pedestrian transportation in urban life: Insights from a visual comparative archaeology (Gothenburg and Toulouse, 1875–2011)

Journal article
Authors Franck Cochoy
Johan Hagberg
Roland Canu
Published in Urban Studies
Volume 52
Issue 12
Pages 2267-2286
ISSN 0042-0980
Publication year 2015
Published at Centre for Retailing
Department of Business Administration, Marketing Group
Pages 2267-2286
Language en
Keywords logistics, pedestrian, photography, sustainability, urban
Subject categories Business Administration, Sociology


This paper explores consumer logistics in urban settings by focusing on the evolution of pedestrian transportation. It accounts for how people carry things in the city and how this is related to the frames of the city and other means of transportation. The methodology combines archaeology, observation, and statistics, and rests on systematic coding of photographical archives. It analyses two streets, one in Gothenburg, Sweden and one in Toulouse, France, over four distinctive periods: before World War I, the wars and interwar period, the 1950s–1960s, and the present. Both dramatic and discrete changes are found, such as the simultaneous proliferation in the use of pedestrians’ bags and motorised types of transportation. The paper identifies geographical, technical, and cultural differences, while yielding surprising similarities between the two cities. The paper concludes that the neglected issue of consumer logistics need to be brought into the contemporary discourse on sustainable cities.

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