‘Bikelash’ for new lanes is only temporary, new study finds

A fresh study about new bike lanes has shown that opposition dies down after lanes are established.  

The Canadian study in the journal Urban Studies monitored Twitter activity in the Canadian cities of Edmonton and Victoria, where new bike lanes were being built.

Prior to the bike lanes being installed, most tweets were focused around advocacy, with many bike groups directing pro-bike tweets towards city governments.

Once the lanes were built, there was increased and widespread social media activity, which comprised a diverse range of positive and negative comments aimed at city governments. Radio stations played a dominant role in amplifying negative comments.

Many Australians will be able to relate to this. New bike lane projects often come under social media scrutiny, and in some cases don't survive the backlash.

However, it was found that after a year of new bike lanes, there was less opposition for the lanes, and more support from local businesses.

Combining the results, the study found that attitudes to newly built bike lanes may be initially negative but followed by acceptance and positive support.

The study has interesting implications for local and state governments investing in bike infrastructure, namely that we shouldn’t cave in to short term ‘bikelash’. We may lose sight of the long term rewards.

To put a fine point on this: the authors state that, at the time of writing, both bike lane projects referenced in the study remain in place and have increased bike uptake in their respective cities.

You can read the journal article here.

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.

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