My research combines urban geography, political economy, and critical social theory to understand the deep transformations currently underway in North American cities and regions. Broadly, I seek to understand and interrogate how contemporary attempts to make cities more livable and sustainable have had problematic results with respect to inequality, resulting in urban spaces that reinscribe historical divisions along race and class. This work is motivated by serious silences about these dynamics in the discourse that celebrates the “greening” of cities. My abiding concern is not only to critically examine the contradictions of the livable city, but also to learn from and participate in efforts to make cities across the globe both more livable and more equitable.
My dissertation, Business Cycles: Race, Gentrification & the Production of the Cyclescape in the San Francisco Bay Area, examined the role that bicycle infrastructure plays in shaping contemporary visions of the livable city. In it, I explored the paradox that bicycling is among the most inexpensive forms of mobility, but living where one can easily bicycle for daily needs is increasingly expensive. My argument is that this is not an accident, but a product of how bicycle advocates have negotiated the process of gentrification and their political role in urban growth. I examined these processes in the San Francisco Bay Area, where some of the earliest economistic arguments in favor of bicycle infrastructure emerged. Since the late 1990s, bicycle advocacy has shifted from the defense of the rights of cyclists to use all roadways as they are to the promotion of bicycle infrastructure in defense of cyclist safety and, increasingly, as an economic benefit for cities. Bicycle infrastructure provision is now to an extent predicated on the notion that it contributes positively to a pleasant consumption environment and attracts young, dynamic, innovative workers to urban spaces where, cities hope, capital will follow. The success of the economic narrative has transformed bicycle advocacy from a fringe pressure activity to a key player in shaping what urban space will become. In the course of this itinerary, bicycling has become redefined as a white, middle-class activity, obscuring the actually-existing diversity of cycling practice.
I am currently preparing a final book manuscript for the University of Minnesota Press based on my dissertation, entitled Cycling the New Urban Frontier, which will include new research on bicycle sharing systems in Oakland, Detroit, and Philadelphia.
Cycling the New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Politics of the Bicycle in the Neoliberal City. Forthcoming with the University of Minnesota Press, expected April 2019.
Think Regionally, Act Locally?: Gardening, Cycling, and the Horizon of Urban Spatial Politics (with Alexander Tarr) (2017). Urban Geography 38(9): 1329-1351. Early view available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02723638.2016. 1232464
Magic City 2.0: Articulations of Technology, Law and Capital on Treasure Island (2017). In Horiuchi, Lynne and Tanu Sankalia, eds., Urban Reinventions: San Francisco’s Treasure Island. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press
Review: The Urban Political Economy and Ecology of Automobility: Driving Cities, Driving Inequality, Driving Politics, Alan Walks, ed. (2016). American Association of Geographers Review of Books 4(4): 225-227. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/2325548X.2016.1222833
The Post-Industrial “Shop Floor”: Gentrification and New Spaces of Production in the San Francisco Bay Area (2016). Antipode 48(2): 474-493. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/anti.12199/abstract
Cycles of Investment: Bicycle Infrastructure, Gentrification, and the Restructuring of the San Francisco Bay Area (2015). Environment and Planning A 47(1): pp. 121-137. Available at: http://www.envplan.com/ abstract.cgi?id=/a130098p
Regulating Inclusion: Spatial Form, Social Process, and the Normalization of Cycling Practice in the USA (2014). Mobilities 9(1): pp. 21-41. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17450101.2013.784527
Recent Conference Activity
“Ground Rent, Platform Capitalism, and the Secondary Circuit of Capital: Notes Toward a Synthesis.” Paper Session: “Platform Urbanism.” American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, April 2018
“The Urban Material Politics of Decarbonization.” Co-organizer and panelist. American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, April 2018
"To Track And Monetize Anything That Moves”: Emerging Measurement Techniques for New (Old) Mobilities. Paper Session: "Cities and Data Beyond Smart Urbanism." American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, April 2017
Paper Session: Whither the Growth Machine?: Perspectives on the Changing Logics of Urban Competitive Strategy. Co-organizer (with Alexander Tarr). American Association of Geographers Annual
Meeting, Boston, MA, April 2017
Panel Session: Author Meets the Critics: DIY Detroit. American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, April 2017
Vernacular Mobilities and the Biopolitics of Urban Data: The Formalization of Bicycle Infrastructure in North America. Ten Years of Global Metropolitan Studies at Berkeley: A Symposium, Berkeley, CA, April 2017
Gentrification as Blocked Creative Destruction. Paper Session: “Mutated or Eclipsed?: Capitalist Urbanization Beyond Gentrification.” Co-organizer (with Rachel Brahinsky). American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, March 2016
Panel Session: Practices of Gentrification. Panelist. American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, March 2016
Field Trip: The Once and Future Mission District. Co-organizer (with Rachel Brahinsky and Alexander Tarr). American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, March 2016
Field Trip: Bicycle Geographies of San Francisco. Co-organizer (with Jason Henderson). American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, March 2016
Roundtable: Change the City Without Taking Power (or Really Changing)? A Discussion on Questions of Localism and Regionalism. Co-organizer (with Alexander Tarr). Urban Affairs Association Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, March 2016
Before the Bicycle Renaissance: Oakland's First Bike Lane, Between Disinvestment and Gentrification. Paper Session: "Bicycles and the City." Society for American City and Regional Planning History Biannual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, November 2015
Does Infrastructure Have Race? Reflections on Mobility, Subjectivity, and Technology. Paper Session: "New Urban Mobilities and Racialization." Co-organizer (with Emily Reid-Musson). Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, April 2015
Complete Streets, Thriving Corridors: Economic Localism and the Rescaling of Urban Politics. Paper Session: "Placing Politics: Making Places or Making Markets?" Urban Affairs Association Annual Meeting, Miami, FL, April 2015