Bicycles and Gentrification

It’s a critical time to address how bicycling and biking infrastructure impact People Of Color in Asbury Park. Everyone deserves safe access through neighborhoods, and many people in the city ride bikes and walk as their main ways of getting around. So while we need to continue to create safe ways for people to move about the city, we also need to address the fear that the correlation of bike lanes and gentrification will lead to displacement . The city is currently following the Plan for Walking and Biking, created in 2018, gradually adding bike lanes, sidewalks, and intersection bump outs, and it is critical that we engage now and listen to how this infrastructure affects People Of Color in our city, and seek to mitigate negative impacts.

Girl cycles behind people on the street in San Francisco, California. Locals ride the closed streets once a month on a Sunday., Image: 98680003, License: Rights-managed, Restrictions: , Model Release: no, Credit line: Adam Gasson / Alamy / Profimedia

John G. Stehlin’s 2019 book “Cyclescapes of the Unequal City: A Look at Bicycles and Gentrification” strikes home for us as advocates at Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition: “While advocates envision a more sustainable city for all, the deployment of bicycle infrastructure within the framework of the neoliberal city in many ways intensifies divisions along lines of race, class, and space.”

While we continue to advocate for biking, and we’re putting in bicycle lanes and other infrastructure to make Asbury Park a more vibrant and livable city, we may have also played an unwitting role in the gentrification of our city. Listen to the excellent interview with Stehlin here.

Tamika Butler writes:

Why We Must Talk About Race When We Talk About Bikes


“We can celebrate what bicycling should truly be about—the power to be free and move freely.” “Bicycling cannot solve systemic racism in the United States. But systemic racism can’t be fixed without tackling it within bicycling. With the rise of bicycling during this global health pandemic, this is the moment to educate…”






Study: Snazzy Car Drivers Less Likely To Yield For People Walking

CNN: If you drive an expensive car are you probably a jerk?

This article fairly states that not all people who drive expensive cars are terrible,  but …”the best predictor of whether a car would stop was its cost, researchers discovered. “Disengagement and a lower ability to interpret thoughts and feelings of others along with feelings of entitlement and narcissism may lead to a lack of empathy for pedestrians” among costly car owners, they theorized in the study.”
People who walk may not be able to afford a car, or may choose not to own one.  Either way, people walking appear to be “less than”.  People walking are labeled with the slightly less-than-human term, “pedestrian”, and have been literally pushed to the narrowest edges of the roadway since the early decades of the 20th century.  People who walk must wait for light signals to cross the street waiting in precipitation, cold, or heat, allowing drivers priority, and don’t get me started on those”beg buttons” that only sometimes actually do anything.  Road engineering focuses on Level of Service (LOS) for automobiles, and people walking have become marginalized.
It will take a real effort to change “windshield bias”, which refers to a decision-making prejudice in favor of, or deference to, a car driver’s perspective above all others. Drivers have been brainwashed since the early 20th century when automobiles began rolling off assembly lines, and the intention of the industry was to enable almost everyone to own a car – or to aspire to own one.   When cars became available in colors other than black, the auto industry began to sell status. It wasn’t long until cars were designed to have personality. The drivers of certain vehicles began to identify with the cars they drove, and advertising continues to exploit that dynamic to great profit. Cars are even designed with the appearance of a face in front, which can convey power, anger, etc. Drivers themselves are ascribed more status if they drive a more powerful looking, expensive, or bigger vehicle.  Manufacturers are making more bigger, taller SUVs and trucks, imbuing a sense of power in the driver.

“…everything about our car-focused world tells drivers that they’re the rulers of the road. Expensive cars only amplify that sense of entitlement to public space and aggression towards pedestrians who violate it.”

Study: Car Sticker Price is a Predictor of Driver Aggression Towards Walkers

The more expensive the car, the less likely the driver is to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. But why?

“…the more expensive the cars got, the more often the driver failed to hit the brakes. For every extra $1,000 on the sticker, the driver was three percent less likely to let pedestrians pass safely.

That observation held true whether the pedestrian was white or black, female or male. Drivers were even less likely to yield for African-American participants — they only did so a shockingly low 25 percent of the time, compared to the 31 percent of drivers who braked for white participants. And they were least likely to yield for African-American men, confirming the findings of previous studies. 

The media promptly exploded with news of the study, and safe streets proponents across the country echoed the researchers’ speculation that the spendy-cars-drivers failed to yield because they “felt a sense of superiority over other road users.” But why, exactly, did BMW drivers feel superior to those poor schmucks out walking in 100 degree Vegas heat? Twitter users had one idea: because they’re all rich psychopaths who don’t care about poor people, and pedestrians are usually at least perceived to be poor.”

Read more…