Calgary Bike Lanes Good, but Not at Cost of Gentrification, Awning Retailer Says

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President of awnings retail and installation company Awnings And More, Jason Smith, says he would love to see more bike lanes in Calgary, but they cannot be at the cost of gentrification.

While more bike lanes in the city are always welcome, they cannot be at the expense of gentrifying Calgary neighbourhoods and making them more unaffordable for the residents that already live there says Jason Smith, president of local awnings retail and installation company Awnings And More.

New transit, pedestrian and cycling upgrades are due for Calgary neighbourhoods like Forest Lawn on the east side. However, as outlined in a news story by Calgary digital journalism outlet “The Sprawl,” upgrades to neighbourhood amenities like bicycle lanes often prelude higher housing prices. The new bike lanes make a neighbourhood more attractive, driving up demand to live there, which drives up development and housing prices and pushes out long-time residents who can no longer afford to live in the neighbourhood.

The Sprawl article details what happened in Chicago when a disused light rail line was turned into a pedestrian and cycling parkway called the 606. Just three years after construction began on the the parkway, housing prices shot up by 50 percent as developers bought up old properties, knocked them down, and built new houses in the suddenly in-demand neighbourhood.

This prompted two Chicago city councillors to propose new fees for demolishing old buildings in neighbourhoods that the 606 parkway passes through in an attempt to keep them from being gentrified.

Residents of Forest Lawn, a long-time working class and immigrant neighbourhood, are worried that the new bike lanes and upgrades to pedestrian and transit access are going to attract people who have enough money to change the face of Forest Lawn and gentrify it, The Sprawl article details.

The article cites a recent study by McGill University entitled “Riding tandem: Does cycling infrastructure investment mirror gentrification and privilege in Portland, OR and Chicago, IL?” that says bike infrastructure in cities often favours white people of higher incomes to the detriment of lower income neighbourhoods that receive the new infrastructure.

Smith says while he is always in favour of sustainable development like bike lanes that promote exercise and clean living, he also recognizes the need to develop neighbourhoods in a way that keeps them affordable for current residents even as they improve.

“Bike lanes are obviously an important thing for a city to have, as every city deals with urban sprawl and congestion,” Smith said, “but upgrading a neighbourhood should definitely not mean pushing out the people that have lived there for a long time and made it such a great place. They should get to stay and enjoy the improvements to the neighbourhood themselves. Hopefully, the City of Calgary will take this into account as they move forward with their plans to improve bike, transit and pedestrian access in Forest Lawn and around the city.”

Contact Info:
Name: Jason Smith
Email: Send Email
Organization: Awnings And More Inc.
Address: 3300-D, 205 5th Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 2V7, Canada
Phone: +1-587-317-6933

Source: PressCable

Release ID: 390506