Poor People and Bicycling

Poor people don’t bike, according to this this Citylab article from earlier this year. Why not?

Most obviously, for the same reasons as rich people. It would be good if researchers (and commenters, of course) could avoid the fundamental attribution error, where rich people like the commenter describe themselves as au fait with the current options of transport, but describe poor people as hostage to poor information about bicycle options or commute time.

Degradation of the built environment. The streets and roads in poor neighborhoods have been redesigned over years to make them less useful for pedestrians and bicyclists and more useful for cars. See this Invisible Cyclist blog post, about how bike-share programs were never designed with equity or social justice in mind, for more details on how exactly this works.

Poor people’s jobs are further away. Rich people have the means to be able to move closer to where they work, taking on one-time costs of moving as well as more expensive costs for groceries, day care and entertainment. Poor people working for low wages can’t afford to shift their residence to somewhere nearer, and they also may not be willing to move for a less secure, less desirable job. In addition, poor people are more dependent on others who may not be able to move. What looks like a person’s quixotic decision to stay in one place far away from a low-paying job may be a calculated decision that takes advantage of relatives, low cost day care, or a partner or spouse’s opportunities.