Hostility to cyclists and bike lanes often seems to be a proxy for wider anger at gentrification. But does this urban phenomenon really arrive on two wheels – or is new cycle infrastructure a sign the street has already transformed?
“Rightly or wrongly, gentrification is often seen as a process that arrives on two wheels. From Red Hook in Brooklyn to London Fields, fixed-gear bike-wielding young professionals have flocked to former industrial lots and waterfronts.
But does cycling really contribute to gentrification? John Stehlin, a geographer at the University of California, Berkeley who has studied San Francisco’s cycling politics, says the relationship is complex. “Cycling feeds into wider urban changes, including gentrification, but it does not cause gentrification. A bicycle lane gets put on a street that is already undergoing change.”