One of the key factors when I was looking for a home was bikeability: how safe would the area be for me on my bike. This did significantly restrict my search areas and it turns out one of the bike paths was actually horrendously dangerous and another was removed from the area I chose. But it turns out that my requirements for biking also restricted me in terms of the income levels of the communities. In short, I was much more likely to find safer bike routes in higher income areas.
This personal observation is supported by research done by Flanagan, Lachapelle, and El-Geneidy (2015). The researchers found that cycling infrastructure investment in Portland, Oregon and Chicago, Illinois was higher in areas of gentrification and privilege.
This has significant implications because it can contribute to increasing stratification of income between communities and it can decrease the access to cycling among lower income individuals. Cycling should be a relatively affordable mode of transportation, allowing individuals and families to run errands, access education and work opportunities, and improve health. However, if cycling infrastructure is not supported in all types of areas it ends up creating more barriers for people who already face significant barriers.
I know from my own experience cycling my city that I am much more likely to be passing large, single family homes as I commute on my bike along signed bike routes and have to dart along less used roads in areas of lower socioeconomic status. Cycling should be accessible to all and that means making sure that everyone can access safe bike routes.
Note: I’m having issues with search engine and cant post the direct link at the moment. I’ll try to update when I can.
Flanagan, E., Lachapelle, U., & El-Geneidy, A. (2016). Riding tandem: Does cycling infrastructure investment mirror gentrification 2 and privilege in Portland, OR and Chicago, IL? Paper Accepted for Presentation at the Transportation Research Board 95th 40 Annual Meeting Washington, D.C., January 10-14, 2016.