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Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Biggest Obstacle to Cycling's Egalitarian Aspirations? Distance [Atlantic Cities]


HENRY GRABAR

  • JUN 05, 2013
The Biggest Obstacle to Cycling's Egalitarian Aspirations? Distance
Carlo Allegri/Reuters

City politics, like physics, is a zero-sum game. Progress in one direction produces resistance in another.
But for advocates of bicycle infrastructure, the backlash to the boom continues to be a source of consternation. And it's the tenor of the arguments against bike lanes and bikeshare programs – rather than specific complaints about funding, parking or community involvement – that's inspiring all the angst.
Invoked to symbolize gentrification, wealth, whiteness, and oppressive elitism, bicycles have become fuel for the demagoguery of tabloid columnists, talk-radio hosts and politicians. In New York, mayoral candidates have scrambled to distance themselves from Michael Bloomberg's bike-friendly infrastructure campaign. In Washington, D.C., bike lanes were a sort of kryptonite for former Mayor Adrian Fenty, an insult interchanged with "dog parks" or "cupcake shops" to indicate the mayor’s perceived close relationship with the white community. In L.A., drive-time radio hosts attack the "tyranny of the bike cult."

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