Researchers from the School of Urban Planning at McGill University and Université du Québec à Montréal "tried to quantify the connection between gentrification and cycling infrastructure," reports Emily Badger for Washington Post Wonkblog.
Cycling itself, as my colleague Perry Stein has written, has become a heated symbol of gentrification. Bike lanes are treated as harbingers of demographic change, or evidence of preferential treatment, or synonymous with well-off white men (all this, despite the fact that Census data shows low-income commuters are the most likely to bike).
The researchers "mapped cycling infrastructure in Chicago and Portland alongside demographic change in neighborhoods between 1990 and 2010," writes Badger. "In both cities, they found "a bias towards increased cycling infrastructure in areas of privilege."
One sensitive issue was which comes first—the bike infrastructure or the changing demographics? Are new residents demanding bike infrastructure, or are wealthier, whiter, more educated residents attracted to bike-friendly neighborhoods? "The researchers sidestep the answer by suggesting that gentrification and cycling infrastructure 'mirror' each other in these two cities," writes Badger.
In Chicago, (n)eighborhoods with large white populations, or an influx of whites, were more likely to get these bike investments.
In both cities, denser neighborhoods closer to the center of town were more likely to have bike infrastructure.
Hat tip to Michael Keenly.