The knowledge of the car driver is perhaps the most complete form of knowledge available to us in both the private and public spheres of knowledge. He (for the car driver is always male, the form has not yet found a way of accommodating female insights into how to navigate oneself around the world) knows how to use Satnav, A – Z or his own innate capabilities in recognising how the world roads systems should connect up; how to surround himself with the perfect soundtrack which mirrors how his own internal emotional turmoil connects to his public confidence in the morals of the highway code; and how his mpg will accurately predict his eta. On a good day, the drivers knowledge is both organic and inorganic, both evolved and constructed: man and machine are perfectly melded. On a bad day, you find yourself on the M25.
Arts based research has a particularly effective role to play if the driver finds himself on the Moebius Loop that is the modern outer city motorway. Poetry, site specific installations and bricolage can be bought into play on the car dashboard, creating new interpretations on ancient themes of mans inhumanity to man, the place of God in a Godless society and the existence of the Devil. The only risk to the driver is that by becoming so immersed in the knowledge that this research generates, they miss the turning for the Dartford Tunnel and are doomed to repeat their journey for a further 120 miles.
Whilst the knowledge of the taxi driver is in a state of crisis, and the knowledge capacities of the bus driver under-exploited, the knowledge of the cyclist is both stable and fulfilled. Stable in the sense that they know how to get where they want to go (ie sit on saddle and peddle like crazy) and fulfilled in that there are unlikely to be any surprise passengers on the bicycle, hiding in the pannier bags ready to spring a few narrative surprises…
The cyclist knowledge is also trangressive and reflective of some problematic identity resolutions. One minute they are a law abiding traveller on the nation’s roads, the next they have become pedestrians on wheels, oblivious to the demands made by red traffic lights or pelican crossings. This transgressive performativity (identity is not who you are, it’s what you do) may provide them with additional epidemiological insights, but it also causes wider concerns amongst fellow travellers. ‘who the f#!#do they think they are?’ being a common rhetorical question posed by car drivers, relatively ignorant of the knowledge capacities of the cyclist when witnessing their delight in swopping identities.
This is the cyclist’s dilemma. Their transgressive capabilities, whilst providing them with new insights into contemporary travelling insights is generated at a price: existential questions of who do they fundamentally think they are.
Arts based researchers would help them resolve these questions through the suitable application of a course of graffiti, bricolage and spoke-art. The nation’s roads would become safer as a result.