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Civic Crowdfunding to Mitigate 'Bikelash'
Kate Gasparro writes of the potential for civic crowdfunding to mitigate the "bikelash" that has created controversy when new protected bike lane infrastructure is installed in cities around the country, even leading to the removal of newly installed bike infrastructure in some locations.
"I’ve found that many places that have avoided bikelash as they roll out new protected bike lanes have something in common: a creative approach to cultivating public support" (i.e., crowdfunding), writes Gasparro. "Instead of encouraging residents to attend public meetings, city officials and local civic groups are meeting community members where they live and work."
Gasparro is a graduate research fellow at Stanford University, and these conclusions grow out of research into community engagement that created an "accidental" expertise in bike lanes. Here, Gasparro explains that history and the conclusion offered in this article in more detail:
During a four-year study of civic crowdfunding, I found that this collective fundraising technique has been used to support projects like protected bike lanes in non-monetary ways, such as building consensus. This is often a primary motivation for starting the campaign. The buy-in that crowdfunding brings about often proves far more valuable than any help paying the tab.
This happens because community organizations engage community members around the project. They convene discussions about the project in public spaces and at local businesses. During these events, nearby residents become acquainted with the proposed plans and voice their concerns before it’s too late to change course.