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The aesthetic experience of traffic in the modern city

Taylor, Nigel


Nigel Taylor


In spite of the ubiquity of the motor vehicle in modern cities, there has been relatively little study of its impact on our experience of urban life. After summarising the most significant objectively visible impacts of the motor vehicle on urban form, this article offers a phenomenological analysis and account of our aesthetic experience of road traffic, from the points of view of people both inside motor vehicles as drivers or passengers, and outside vehicles as pedestrians or cyclists. Two aspects of our aesthetic experience are described: our sensory experience of traffic, and then how traffic is experienced cognitively, or at the level of meaning. The article identifies various ways in which 'automobility' has come to dominate our contemporary aesthetic experience of cities.


Taylor, N. (2003). The aesthetic experience of traffic in the modern city. Urban Studies, 40(8), 1609-1625.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jul 1, 2003
Journal Urban Studies
Print ISSN 0042-0980
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 40
Issue 8
Pages 1609-1625
Keywords traffic, aesthetic experience, cities, urban
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