‘Cycling is good’ but ‘cyclists are reckless’

Discourses of Mobility Justice and Discrimination


  • M Cristina Caimotto University degli Studi di Torino




climate crisis, identity, fossil-fuel lifestyles, climate inaction, auto mentality


Urban mobility choices and policies are not a common object of study for linguistics. These policies and choices actually generate forms of discrimination by creating reified identities of ‘drivers’ against ‘cyclists’ against ‘pedestrians’. Through the prism of ‘mobility justice’ this paper shows how detrimental discursive choices contribute to the normalisation of a mobility system which is highly discriminatory and a source of toxicity and danger to humanity. The discriminations imposed by the hegemonic system of automobility reinforce other forms of intersectional discrimination. By looking at journalistic texts that employ road-user identities to fuel narratives of conflict, this study highlights the need for linguists to contribute to language-focused investigations already being carried out from the perspectives of other disciplines such as Geography, Sociology or Transport Studies. It also shows how these investigations can provide answers to broader questions concerning climate inaction.

Author Biography

M Cristina Caimotto, University degli Studi di Torino

M. Cristina Caimotto is Associate Professor of English Linguistics and Translation at the University of Turin, Italy. Her research interests include political discourse and environmental discourse, with a focus on ideology. She employs the approach of eco-linguistics to investigate discourses of cycling promotion or bikelash, identifying beneficial, ambivalent and destructive discourse strategies. She is the author of Discourses of Cycling, Road Users and Sustainability: An Ecolinguistic Investigation (2020), a study that observes how discourses shape cycling and explores how cycling could shape new discourses. Her book offers tools to study the influence of narratives and discourses in resisting change towards more cycling-oriented policies. Other recent publications include ‘Promoting urban cycling: An ecolinguistic and discursive approach’ in M. Adam and N. Ortar (eds.) Becoming Urban Cyclists: From Socialization to Skills (2021) and, with R. Raus, Lifestyle Politics in Translation. The Shaping and Re-shaping of Ideological Discourse (2023). She is also a cycling advocate.


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How to Cite

Caimotto, M. C. (2023). ‘Cycling is good’ but ‘cyclists are reckless’: Discourses of Mobility Justice and Discrimination. Journal of Language and Discrimination, 7(1), 52–74. https://doi.org/10.1558/jld.24428