Cycling the New Frontier: The Politics of the Bicycle in the Neoliberal City
Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 4:00pm to Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 5:00pm

Please join us in the Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning for an upcoming talk: 

Dr. John Stehlin

Department of Geography, UC Berkeley

Cycling the New Frontier: The Politics of the Bicycle in the Neoliberal City

Thursday, February 15th, 2018, 4-5pm
Urban Center 220


Few things capture the contemporary American enthusiasm for urban life quite like the bicycle. In the years since the Great Recession, cities across the United States have adopted bicycle infrastructure as a key element of sustainable development policy. The result is seemingly a paradox: while bicycling is inexpensive, and bicyclists are on the whole racially and economically diverse, the places that have invested in and become known for accommodating bicycling are gentrifying rapidly. This presentation draws on research conducted in San Francisco, Oakland, Detroit, and Philadelphia to examine two main forms of bicycle infrastructure: bike lanes and bicycle sharing systems. Through the institutional alignment of bicycle advocacy with key actors in the urban growth machine, these infrastructures have become core features of inter-urban competitive strategy. This leads to a demand-led form of infrastructure provision that reflects and reinforces sociospatial inequality at the neighborhood and regional scales. Ultimately, I argue, these contradictions pose real limits on the potential for bicycling as a meaningful response to climate change.


John Stehlin is a lecturer and 2018 National Science Foundation Scholar in the Department of Geography at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on mobility infrastructure, uneven regional development, and race, class, and urban space in North American cities, and has appeared in Antipode, Environment & Planning A, Mobilities, and Urban Geography. His talk draws on his current book project Cycling the New Urban Frontier (U of Minnesota Press) as well as new work on bicycle sharing systems, big data, and platform capitalism.