Reactions to Bicycle Planning: Beyond the Backlash

I missed the post on Streetsblog when this first came out (thanks to @groxie for tweeting it and catching my attention). A group of students at Hunter College produced a report: “Beyond the Backlash: Equity and Participation in Bicycle Planning” (PDF, 10.6M).

The report resonates quite a bit with issues here in Portland:

  • Better infrastructure in the center than in the edges of the community.
  • Perception of cyclists as “other people”, either affluent recreation riders, people who can’t afford other modes of transportation, or bicycle messengers (I don’t think messengers are a big population, or issue, here in Portland).
  • Uneven relationships with Community Boards (neighborhood associations).
  • Need for bike parking at key transit connections (in Portland this hasn’t so much manifested as a request for parking as for more rack space on vehicles – but I expect this to morph eventually).
  • Backlash to a rapid expansion of cycling infrastructure (Portland’s expansion has not been as fast as New York’s, but has been going on for a longer period).
  • Resentment at infrastructure investments in gentrified neighborhoods.

The report is definitely worth a read. The prescriptions presented by the authors include:

  • Develop consistent community involvement and review processes for all bicycle projects so citizens and neighborhood associations know what to expect.
  • Develop infrastructure in all parts of the community.
  • Present projects in the context of Complete Streets (with benefits for pedestrians and other users as well as cyclists).
  • Look for “hidden cyclists”, folks, often lower-income, who may not show up in counts and statistics but nonetheless need and benefit from infrastructure.

Many of these ideas would be well-applied here in Portland.

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