More People are Riding Bikes; After That It Gets Confusing
Matthew Yglesias, writing for Vox, responds to an anti-bike rant by Courtland Milloy in the Washington Post by pointing out a myth that the popularity of biking has been driven by an entitled, wealthy, bohemian class. The Census, according to Yglesias, has data to prove it: "in reality these are predominantly commuting modes of the less-privileged."
Yglesias also laments the implications for low income and minority populations caused by the misconception of biking of a privilege of the upper class: "What is true is that when it comes to bicycle facilities, just like many other municipal services, there is a tendency to shortchange low-income neighborhoods with inferior infrastructure. That's deplorable. But systematically downgrading a whole metro area's bicycle facilities — or murdering cyclists at random — in favor of a more car-friendly transportation system is going to disadvantage a disproportionately disadvantaged population in favor of the more affluent class of car owners."
Eve Bratman and Adam Jadhav reference May's Census data in a separate article for CityLab, taking a contradictory approach to that of Yglesias, citing places like Washington D.C. where increases in bike commutes have occurred in affluent neighborhoods but remain "far less common in the lower-income areas east of the Anacostia River."
Bratman and Jadhav present three key findings, the third of which reconciles least with Yglesias's reading of the data:
- "Poor respondents spend more time commuting."
- "Most people, poor and non-poor alike, still want cars."
- "Cycling just isn't popular among the urban poor (yet)."