Blame it on the bike: does cycling contribute to a city’s gentrification?
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?
Wednesday 5 October 2016 07.30 BST
In 1996, San Francisco’s department of parking and traffic published a draft of what was to be the city’s first bicycle-specific transport plan. Almost immediately, cyclists in the city noticed something amiss: there were no bike lanes planned for Valencia Street, a popular route through the largely Latino Mission neighbourhood. Opposition to the plan grew so intense that the following year, a crackdown against pro-cycling protesters ended in a riot.
Two decades on, Valencia Street is one of San Francisco’s more desirable addresses. Luxury apartments and fashionable bare-brick cafes sit cheek by jowl with colourful political murals and tiny bodegas.
And Valencia is now a cycling hub too. Indeed, the street became the first in the city to replace car lanes with bicycle paths.