Inquiring and Experimenting with Urban Ecology: Pragmatist Lessons from Public Bicycle Repair

  • Martin Tironi


Martin Tironi describes the continuous maintenance of another Parisian transportation network, the public bicycle scheme called Velib’. Tironi highlights the innovative aspect of this network’s maintenance. The agents engage in socio-technical inquiries on various aspects of the network (users, bikes, locations, time schedules, etc.). They actively transform them and, in so doing, the Velib’ maintenance agents contribute to urban innovation, showing the unfinished nature of the city. Tironi’s study highlights parts of the often invisible and largely ignored work through which mobility is sustained, taking seriously the value of the frictions and failures that populate urban life. Moreover, Tironi’s study emphasizes the close connection between maintenance routine, local inquiry and experimentation, working out in fine detail the heuristic interest of Dewey’s pragmatist notion of inquiry.



Martin Tironi’s involvement in the writing of this paper has been supported by the Chilean National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development’s (FONDECYT NO. 1180062). The author wishes to thank Ignaz Strebel, Alain Bovet and Philippe Sormani for their insightful comments on the different versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Tironi
    • 1
  1. 1.Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, School of DesignSantiagoChile

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