Do Bike Lanes Fuel Gentrification?


| 10/24/2013 4:11:00 PM


Tags: Bicycling, Bike Lanes, Bikable Cities, Gentrification, Race, Class, Jay Walljasper.,

What forward-looking cities are learning about race, equity and building better bike lanes

This post originally appeared at People for Bikes

Rev. Kenneth Gunn’s ministry at Chicago’s Bread of Life Church covers both the Bible and bicycles. He organized a bike club that regularly rides from the South Side church to Lake Michigan and along the Lakefront Trail. In his spare time, Gunn repairs donated bikes that he gives to kids in the predominantly African-American neighborhood.

Rev. Gunn believes biking offers great benefits to the community. “Besides good recreation, biking is economical,” the 70-year-old minister explains, especially in a city where many people don’t own cars and transit fares are rising. “But health is the number one reason to ride a bike. It’s good for your coronary, your respiratory and your blood pressure. And I find it’s good for my arthritis.”

Gunn welcomes the new protected bike lanes popping up across Chicago’s South Side as a way to encourage more African Americans to bike. “The city is becoming more and more bike friendly. The new lanes on 55th Street are super-safe and I love it.”

While African Americans comprise the fastest growing demographic of bicyclists, doubling from 2001 and 2009, bike lanes proposed for African-American neighborhoods in several cities have drawn controversy. And black churches like Rev. Gunn’s, which are highly influential among African-Americans, find themselves in the middle of the debate.