Homes near this new bike shelter at the Beacon Hill Station have, when compared to other homes in the area, seen an increase of over $60,000 this year alone.
Homes near this bike shelter at the Beacon Hill Station have, when compared to other homes in the area, seen an increase of more than $60,000 this year alone. Charles Mudede

The values of real estate near light rail stops are, according to Curbed, increasing sharply. This shouldn't surprise anyone. The reason given for this price inflation is bad traffic and a fundamental shift in transportation ideology that has its roots in the new urbanist movement.

But if this trend continues, it will mean that the best features of and improvements in our public transportation infrastructure won't be available to poor and working-class people. These people shall be pushed out to places that have weak or no public transit services, and it is exactly this class of people who need a cheap transportation alternative to the expensive and impractical automobile. And so, the ones who can afford cars will be the ones who enjoy light rail and options like bikeways and walkability. These urban virtues will all come at a high price. We can call this the High Line effect.

Likewise, the health benefits associated with bike mobility and light rail (walking to and from stations) will again be affordable to those who already have access to the best health care money can buy. This is precisely what happens when urbanism is disconnected from economics and class realities, when it is simply the form, rather than the content, of urbanism. That form becomes marketing.

Indeed, Kerry Gold's brilliant report on the causes and consequences of Vancouver's housing crisis, "The Highest Bidder: How foreign investors are squeezing out Vancouver’s middle class," describes how a bike route that became a part of "the much-hyped 'Greenest City 2020 Action Plan'" ended up, when implemented, being a "cover for creating what amounted to a gated community." Urbanism needs content, and that content should be class sensitive and operate with the city and not the market in mind. In our neoliberal times, the city and the market are too easily seen as the same thing.