UCL Department of Geography


Making sense of how people use, share and negotiate the road

12 January 2018

Michael wins the prestigious Smeed Prize

Making sense of how people use, share and negotiate the road

Michael Nattrass, UCL Geography PhD researcher, is the winner of the Smeed Prize for the best student paper and presentation at the 50th Universities’ Transport Studies Group (UTSG) annual conference, held at UCL on 3-5 January. Michael competed against other shortlisted papers submitted by PhD students from across the UK.

The £500 prize, named after Professor Reuben Smeed, the first Professor of Traffic Studies at UCL, is awarded for the contribution of the paper, the quality of the conference presentation and the author’s performance in responding to questions.

Michael’s paper, ‘Infrastructuring when Cycling: How those Cycling, Walking and Driving come to justify the everyday use of the Public Highway’, draws on some of his ESRC-funded research, and focuses on the practical ethics and moral economy around cyclists who stay on the carriageway or use cycleways on adjacent footways.

More broadly, with Dr Alan Latham and Dr Russell Hitchings, he is exploring how people make sense of practical infrastructures, including whether they think it appropriate to use the footway illegally when cycling. These insights may offer new ways of incrementally changing the transport infrastructure shaping and shaped by how we get around cities.

In doing so, the research contributes to wider debates about possible alternative transport futures, in which the public may use and share the road network in more prosperous, sustainable and healthier ways. It challenges more conventional disciplinary understandings of the road network, pioneered by Smeed, that regard travellers as rational rule-following individuals as part of wider efforts to accommodate ever greater numbers of trips by motorised vehicles.

If you are interested in Michael’s research, do not hesitate to get in touch with him.