Systemic Inequity in Cycling Infrastructure Development: A Case Study of Vancouver, Canada

Authors: Rebecca Mayers*, University of British Columbia
Topics: Transportation Geography, Qualitative Research, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Cycling, bicycle, infrastructure, development, inequity, equity, covid, policy
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 18
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The widespread "stay at home" orders, closure of indoor exercise spaces, and risks of exposure to the novel Coronavirus in public transit have prompted a significant uptake in cycling. With more cyclists on the road, the pandemic has renewed focus on the lack of safe cycling infrastructure within our cities (Hertel & Keil, 2020). Although cities are improving their cycling infrastructure during the pandemic, this infrastructure remains inequitably distributed. This unequal distribution is inextricably linked to issues of race, class, gender, and cultural capital (Stehlin, 2019). Uneven development inhibits access to safe cycling infrastructure in "low-growth" and underprivileged neighbourhoods, whereas "high-growth" and privileged neighbourhoods receive most of the attention and resources (Hoffman, 2016). This chapter investigates these inequities by detailing the process the City of Vancouver uses to allocate cycling infrastructure and policies, with a focus on the impact of COVID-19. Through qualitative semi-structured interviews, this chapter presents a largely unseen narrative that is crucial to research on cycling. In particular, its findings suggest that development cost levies and a lack of representation in the decision-making process resulting in an inequitable distribution of safe cycling infrastructure.
Hertel, S. & Keil, R. (2020) After isolation: urban planning and the covid-19 pandemic. Ontario Professional Planners Institute. Retrieved from
Hoffmann, M. L. (2016). Bike lanes are white lanes: Bicycle advocacy and urban planning. U of Nebraska Press.
Stehlin, J. G. (2019). Cyclescapes of the unequal city: Bicycle infrastructure and uneven development. U of Minnesota Press.

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