An exploratory study of rationales influencing roads and route choices of private car owners : case study : Bisley, Pietermaritzburg.
Roads are a significant element of modernity. They are not only sites that facilitate mobility and fluidity needed for modern capitalist economy but also spaces which signify the social relations formed within the system. This conceptualization of the road is central to the project at hand. The aim of this research is to unpack factors influencing route choices of private car owners in the Bisley area in Pietermaritzburg in terms of their primary activities (going to work, shopping etc.) and what socio-political contents inform and frame these rationales. Additionally, this research explores the extent to which crime influences spatial consumption and mobility patterns. The research made use of qualitative approach that sought to interrogate the contexts within which what is considered rational choices are made and provide insight into how private car owners in Bisley area contextualize their decision. In-depth interviews with individuals (owners of private car) from various households in Bisley were conducted. The findings reveal that drivers use routes that provide them with the maximum positive outcomes, and consider their options within multiple factors as they arise out of the conditions on each road and each trip. The study also found variations in terms of the mode of rationality used in situational contexts and their multiplicity. For example, morning traffic prompted the drivers to use instrumental rationality; whereas travel during other parts of the day was not restricted to this form of rationality. The findings of study also in some ways support already existing view that there is a link between spatial consumption and perceptions of crime; however, this requires further interrogation of this theme with systematic data collection appropriate to it. Most importantly consideration of safety on the road definitely shapes decisions of the research participants on which roads and routes to frequent, and at which time of the day. Furthermore, the study through the tracing of participants‟ movements using maps shows the ways in which class and race feature on the roads of the country. The study argues that class rather than race is re-spatialized in post-apartheid South Africa. This was attributed to recent socio-political and economic dynamic developments taking place in South Africa, where the black majority is becoming more affluent.