The number of bicyclists is
increasing in the United States, especially among the working class
and people of color. In contrast to the demographics of bicyclists in
the United States, advocacy for bicycling has focused mainly on the
interests of white upwardly mobile bicyclists, leading to
neighborhood conflicts and accusations of racist planning. In Bike
Lanes Are White Lanes, scholar Melody L. Hoffmann argues that the
bicycle has varied cultural meaning as a "rolling signifier."
That is, the bicycle's meaning changes in different spaces, with
different people, and in different cultures. The rolling
signification of the bicycle contributes to building community,
influences gentrifying urban planning, and upholds systemic race and
class barriers. In this study of three prominent U.S.
cities-Milwaukee, Portland, and Minneapolis-Hoffmann examines how the
burgeoning popularity of urban bicycling is trailed by systemic
issues of racism, classism, and displacement. From a pro-cycling
perspective, Bike Lanes Are White Lanes highlights many
problematic aspects of urban bicycling culture and its advocacy as
well as positive examples of people trying earnestly to bring their
community together through bicycling. Melody L. Hoffmann is an
instructor of communication studies and journalism at Anoka Ramsey
Community College. Her work has been anthologized in Culture on
Two Wheels: The Bicycle in Literature and Film (Nebraska, 2016).