Lizzette Soria*, Jesse Cohen, Maria Fernanda Molas y Molas, Mena Rizk, and Prathito Wisambodhi
Edited by Emmett McKinney and Yana Petri
Article | Aug. 30, 2021
- Bicycle infrastructure development has expanded in recent years as a key strategy to foster sustainable urban transportation. However, activists have raised concerns about the risk of gentrification and displacement for low-income communities and communities of color.
- The relationship between bikeway expansion and gentrification is critical for assessing public investment in sustainable transport. However, cities struggle to capture this relationship due to limitations of quantitative data and disagreement on the definition of gentrification.
- Using data on bikeway development from 2010–2015 in Los Angeles, we find a negligible correlation between bikeway development and gentrification or displacement. In light of this finding, we expand on previous scholarship by highlighting the inherent limitations of quantitative metrics for capturing a complex socioeconomic phenomenon such as gentrification.
- Finally, we enumerate how disaggregated data and qualitative methods can help transportation planners and local governments better understand the relation between bikeway expansion and gentrification—and reduce potential differentiated negative impacts.
Many cities across the globe are developing bikeways as a key strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and foster sustainable transportation. However, planners and community activists have raised concerns that bikeway expansion may induce gentrification and displacement, disproportionately affecting low-income communities and communities of color. While scholars have explored quantitative measurements of this relationship, the metrics fail to capture the nuances and complexity of gentrification as a socioeconomic phenomenon. Our analysis in Los Angeles (LA) examines the correlation between bikeway expansion and gentrification between 2010 and 2015. The findings suggest a minimal correlation between bikeway expansion and gentrification in the surrounding area. This brief provides policy considerations and future research recommendations. These include i) collecting and maintaining detailed bicycle infrastructure data, ii) assessing the relationship between bikeways and other key variables of wellbeing (e.g., housing, accessibility to services, health, and safety) through qualitative data, and iii) implementing meaningful participatory processes with diverse communities.
Bikeways, Gentrification, and Displacement
Geospatial Analysis in Los Angeles
1) Population with a college education (as a percentage),
2) The non-Hispanic white population (as a percentage),
3) Median household income, and,
4) Median gross rent.
Our study found effectively no correlation between bikeway development and gentrification (0.005 points biserial correlation coefficient) or between bikeway development and the displacement proxy of change in eviction rate (0.109 correlation coefficient).
Soria, L., Cohen, J., Molas y Molas, M. F., Rizk, M., & Wisambodhi, P. Equitable bikeway expansion: investigating potential links to gentrification and displacement. MIT Science Policy Review 2, 55-62 (2021). https://doi.org/10.38105/spr.la2mv0fj4g.
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