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Gentrification and Sustainable Post-Automobility: The commute mode share of neighbourhood population segments

14:00, Tuesday 9 May 2023 EDT (30 minutes)

The inner city is increasingly understood to be an appropriate place for people to live more sustainably by driving less.  However, gentrification is often promoted when urban policy for sustainable development seeks to encourage reinvestment in inner cities (Quastel, Moos, & Lynch, 2012; Bunce, 2009).  At the same time, re-urbanization appears to be contributing to the plateau or perhaps decline in per capita vehicle kilometers travel in some industrialized countries (Metz, 2015; Bussière, Madre, & Tapia-Villarreal, 2018).  The mobility shifts occurring in gentrifying neighbourhoods arguably portend new forms of mobility, which may reduce the significance of private vehicles or reconfigure our reliance on them (Schwanen, 2016; Sheller, 2015; Spinney, 2016).   In studies of transport mode and gentrification it is often surmised that the changes found to the modal split in gentrifying neighbourhoods are due to the mobility of the relatively affluent new residents (Danyluk & Ley, 2007; Sthelin, 2015; Kushto & Schofer, 2008). Nonetheless, gentrifying places are home to diverse residents who benefit from gentrification processes and experience displacement pressure to varying degrees.  This research investigates the correlation between gentrification and commute mode share for local subpopulations that differ by their income level, family status, visible minority status and who recently immigrated to Canada.

The correlation between gentrification and commute mode is studied for neighbourhood subpopulations who are moving into gentrifying places and those who experience displacement pressure in Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver.  The commute mode of a reference commuter is measured for households with varying income levels, households with children, where at least one household member identifies as a visible minority, and where at least one household member immigrated in the fourteen years before the census.  Fixed effects regression shows that gentrification is correlated with a decrease in the mode share for driving among affluent commuters and visible minorities who live amidst this neighbourhood change.  However, gentrification is not correlated with an aggregated decrease in the percentage of commuters who drive to work.  This is because commuters who are more likely to drive become more concentrated in gentrifying neighbourhoods, while commuters who are less likely to drive are dispersed from these neighbourhoods.  Gentrification does not change the ascendance of automobility, but reproduces inequities as the everyday mobility of the journey to work and the technology of transport mode are spatially embedded in gentrifying places.  

Student at University of Toronto
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