No Bicycle, No Bus, No Job
No Bicycle, No Bus, No Job
The Making of Workers’ Mobility in the Netherlands, 1920-1990
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How Workers’ Travel was Controlled in Many Ways
Mobility in Key Dutch Industrial Centers
Grasping the Worker’s Perspective of Mobility

1 Responding to the Transport Mismatch, 1920-1940
1.1 Transport Mismatch between Home and Work
1.2 Workers Seek Mobility Alternatives

2 Protesting Bus Regulations during the Depression, 1926-1938
2.1 State Regulation of Passenger Buses
2.2 Workers Respond with a Miner Bus Boycott

3 Mobility Austerity during War and Scarcity, 1940-1947
3.1 Wartime Transport Mismatch
3.2 Wartime Mobility Austerity
3.3 Scarcity and Austerity Continue After the War

4 Mobility Barriers during Postwar Industrialization, 1947-1970
4.1 Lack of Affordable Housing Near Jobs
4.2 Public Transit Falls Short

5 Postwar Mobility Practices, 1947-1970
5.1 Urban and Peri-Urban Workers Keep on Cycling and Discover Mopeds
5.2 Company Buses for Rural and Migrant Workers

6 Disciplining Cyclists and Moped Riders
6.1 Companies Fear for Workers’ Safety in Postwar Traffic
6.2 Policing and Schooling

7 Mobilizing Rural and Migrant Workers by Company Bus
7.1 Employers as Driving Force Behind Worker Buses
7.2 The Social Aspect of Bus Commuting
7.3 Control Techniques and Strategies

8 Leaving Workers to their Own Devices during Deindustrialization, 1970-1990
8.1 Employers Withdraw
8.2 Forcing Car Commuting as the New Normal
8.3 Accessibility Crisis for the Car-less


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Reviews and Features

"In this carefully researched volume, Patrick Bek examines the links between workers’ mobility, transportation technologies, and societal change. In particular, he focuses on the ways in which mobility deprivation was produced through strategies enacted by the state and employers, and the measures that workers developed to facilitate their mobility and access to employment"
-- Colin Pooley, Technology and Culture, Vol, 64, July 2023

"No Bicycle, No Bus, No Job is a uniquely valuable contribution to historical mobility studies ... Consistent with the best work in this tradition, Bek is adept at reincluding overlooked participants in the historical struggles whose legacies we have inherited. Through archival research drawn from a complementary array of diverse cases, he reconstructs everyday struggles and the settings in which they were waged. But Bek is also an innovator in this field. To mobility studies’ stress on urban mobility, he adds the rural worker who commutes to the urban industrial plant. To the field’s ample attention to public versus private transport, he adds corporate transport, a variety that is both public and private in character. And Bek reminds labor historians that the journeys to and from work are part of the working day too, with similar struggles."
-- Peter Norton, Journal for Transport History

"No Bicycle, No Bus, No Job broadens the understanding of mobility poverty by approaching it through the history of commuting. ... the strength of the book is twofold: interweaving transport technology with economic changes to explain commuting as labor practice as well as giving employers, workers, and the state agency in shaping and reshaping commuter flows."
-- Ingrid Schepers, TSEG - The Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History

Patrick Bek

No Bicycle, No Bus, No Job

The Making of Workers’ Mobility in the Netherlands, 1920-1990

For working people, the cost of getting to work, in terms of time and expense, is a crucial aspect of daily life. In the twentieth century, people’s opportunity to travel increased. This did not, however, apply to everyone. The absence of affordable housing near job locations combined with the lack of safe, efficient, and affordable mobility options aggravated social exclusion for some. No Bicycle, No Bus, No Job details how power relations have historically enabled or restricted workers’ mobility in twentieth century Netherlands. Blue-collar workers, industrial employers, and the state shaped workers’ everyday commute in a changing playing field of uneven power relations that shifted from paternalism to neo-liberalism.

Patrick Bek

Patrick Bek is a historian who received his PhD in 2021 from Eindhoven University of Technology. His research interests include labor history, history of technology, and mobility studies. He currently lectures at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.