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Beyond bike lanes : the politics of the cycling infrastructure decision-making process Mayers, Rebecca


Despite the overwhelming evidence on the benefits of cycling, the process for approving initiatives for better infrastructure remains politically contentious. It remains unclear how the decisions are made regarding cycling infrastructure and why some projects are successful, and others fail. Political interests are often guiding the transportation agenda rather than the needs of all residents. This dissertation presents a qualitative case study of the cycling infrastructure decision-making process in the City of Vancouver. Informed by political-economic theory, this study engaged with decision-makers through semi-structured interviews to answer the following research questions: (1) What is the current decision-making process of cycling infrastructure investment from long-term planning to evaluation?; (2) What are the mechanisms of influence and power in the cycling infrastructure decision-making process?; and (3) How are issues of equity valued, determined, implemented, and evaluated throughout the decision-making process? Themes were identified from the data collected and consist of the cycling infrastructure decision-making process, mechanisms of influence and power, issues of equity, political infrastructure over time, and the pandemic response and future changes in cycling. The discussion of findings prompted four themes to help better synthesize the politics of the cycling infrastructure decision-making process: (1) multifaceted decision-making process; (2) negotiating politics; (3) investment, growth, and equity; and (4) pandemic response. This research brings to light new findings on the political nature of cycling infrastructure and how growth and intense capitalization of space and time in the land market can be what holds the decision-making process together. Cycling infrastructure projects are not necessarily based on need but based on who expresses their need and has the political means to communicate them. This dissertation investigates the inequity in the decision-making to provoke further research on cycling infrastructure decision-making to broaden our understanding and how to influence positive change through the practice of planning.

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