Bicycle led getrification (or: The Mission Street Syndrome)

Homosexuals know they are wasting their time trying to win hearts and minds out there in heartland. The situation is the same for us cyclists, in cities where almost everyone drives. We are queer, in most peoples’ eyes. So I suggest we take some leads from the real queers. In the 1970s in New York, gay party animals occupied space nobody wanted in the Meat Packing District. Who would have thought they would price themselves out of that residual space, by making it trendy, and within a few years be marching North into Chelsea, at that time hardly a place the middle classes were vying to occupy either. Now they’re pressing further North into Hell’s Kitchen, yet another district those average-Joes have been disregarding.

I want to see cycling communities coalescing in areas no one else wants, especially places that drivers and transit users can’t easily access. My buddy David, who writes the Architakes blog, took me for a ride to New York’s little known district of Red Hook. There is no subway out there, so guess what? There are some real property bargains! And here’s the real sweetener: it’s a 15 minute bike ride from Red Hook to downtown Manhattan. Who else, but cyclists, could commute to downtown Manhattan from property they bought for a song?

Never mind begging for bike access to places drivers have already ruined. We should use our secret mobility to our advantage, and flag places like Red Hook as bicycling districts. Via social media, we could simply garner consens, that such-and-such part of town is the place to head if you’re into bikes, and viola: we would all move there and take over. I’m high enough on this idea, to give it its own fancy name, “The Mission Street Syndrome”, so-named because what I’m describing happened, to some extent, on Mission Street in San Francisco. 

Thanks Edward. The comment you left after my last post, jogged my mind to think of this parallel between queer-space, and cycle-space.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Bikes as transport

    It seems you are starting to see bicycles as strictly for transport after your 2-month overseas trip. I think that is probably the way forward if we want to try and rid cities of car blight.

    As for you saying, “Sometimes I wonder if there is anything we can learn from each other at all.”… I was probably of the same thinking you were at when you started your blog and now I am seeing things differently as well. I thought I “knew it all” when it came to cycling.

    Imagine trying to explain all this context to a cyclist who does not “get it”, or a strictly car person? That is why so many “real cyclists” still poison the well with comments and ideas that they have no idea where things are heading in a global perspective with trying to make cities more liveable, etc.

    • Steven says:

      Re: Bikes as transport

      Indeed, I’ve heard us described as a “passionate” bunch 🙂 A good friend, and top bike racer, called in for coffee on Sunday, and said he wondered why bike plans are pitched at those who don’t cycle. The short answer, is that most non-cyclists would cycle, if it was made easy. I’m committed to that path, making it easier, but I’m taking a new slant, saying we should intensely develop land around rail trails and water courses, to give cyclists a parallel universe that turns its back on the car city. Yes, and in that universe, bike paths would have roofs!! I’m getting tired of being rained on 🙂
      I should make clear, I see bikes as fun too. I love racing, and mountain biking, and flirting with fellow bike riders, etc.. I guess you could say I’m dreaming of a hedonistic transportation mode.

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