Past Events


Speaker Series - John Stehlin

Friday, December 06, 2019, 03:00pm - 04:00pm

John Stehlin, Department of Geography, Environment, and Sustainability, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Cyclescapes of the Unequal City: Bicycle Infrastructure, Uneven Development, and Infrastructural Rescaling in the Contemporary City

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. Building on this pattern, new forms of “micro-mobility” associated with the platform economy—which began with bicycles but now increasingly deploy small electric scooters—have deepened these contradictions and produced new scales of private urban infrastructure provision. Taken together, these processes reflect an emerging but uneven form of infrastructural rescaling that tends to reinforce sociospatial inequality at both the neighborhood and regional scales, even as it points towards the potential for a less automobile-dominated form of urban life.

John Stehlin is Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He was previously Research Associate in the Sustainable Consumption Institute at the University of Manchester and a National Science Foundation Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. His work has appeared in Antipode, Environment & Planning A, Transport Reviews, and Urban Geography, as well as in a monograph, also entitled Cyclescapes of the Unequal City, with the University of Minnesota Press.

An informal gathering will take place at Pino's in Highland Park after the talk.

All talks in the Speaker Series take place in Tillett Hall, Room 246, on the Livingston Campus, 54 Joyce Kilmer Ave, unless otherwise noted.