A Gentrification Cycle


Eric Peterson considers the role of gentrification in pro-biking campaigns:

[T]he rise in urban biking in the past few years is directly correlated with the return of upper middle class whites to the city, and a direct appeal on the part of municipal governments to attract more of them. While many, such as [New York City Mayor] Bloomberg, have rationalized the implementation of bike infrastructure as a way of supplementing public transit, it’s not hard to find an ulterior motive. As the urban planning blogger Surly Urbanist has argued recently, there is a direct connection between bike infrastructure and gentrification: “Bicycling’s growing popularity over the past decade or so is due to the fact that a preferred demographic has now pushed for it.”

In an interview about his city’s bikeshare program, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said his biggest priority for the project was attracting members of the “creative class,” seeing it as an asset in competing for them with cities like Austin and Seattle. Melody Hoffmann, who completed a dissertation on bikes and gentrification, found that multiple bikeshare programs in US cities have, at least initially, avoided low-income and minority neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are, of course, often the same neighborhoods with limited access to public transit.

(Photo by Jon Niola)