Beyond Chron

Review of Cyclescapes of the Unequal City by John G. Stehlin

A critical look at the political economy of urban bicycle infrastructure in the United States

John Stehlin’s book on rising bicycle advocacy includes a lot of material on San Francisco. He sees support for expanding bike lanes by downtown groups like SPUR as part of an elite, pro-gentrification agenda to connect a greener use of streets with economic growth. Bicycling is designed “to attract members of the elusive ‘creative class’…as bicycle infrastructure becomes another valuable amenity in the urban portfolio…”

If you enjoy reading this type of language and agree with this analysis, you will enjoy the book. I had a problem with it for one big reason: gentrified cities hardly have any bicycle infrastructure, a conclusion confirmed by Stehlin’s data.

The book includes a chart of the Top 20 Cities in Bicycle Commute Share (of 70 largest cities), 1990-2015. Portland, the top city, had only 6.4% of its workers commuting by bicycles in 2015. Minneapolis was second at 4.3% with San Francisco and Washington DC at 4%. Heavily gentrified New York City was at 1%.


Read the whole review.