Reblog: 7 Cities Get $375,000 to Work on Bike-Share Equity

I was recently interviewed by Josh Cohen about the possibilities and limits to U.S. bike share equity grants. Probably the first and last time I will be ever so thoroughly and accurately quoted.

Here’s a snippet from the article:

[[ “Bike-share systems are not designed for a diversity of users. They’re designed to make money in certain areas of the city,” [Melody Hoffmann] explains. Hoffmann says Minneapolis’s system, like many around the U.S., was set up to make money in its first year.

“Nice Ride from the beginning was designed for tourists and business people and people that were already invested in biking. If you have a system that’s set up that way to ensure it makes money that first year, you’re going to put the stations where they’re going to make money. If that’s the model it’s just not going to be equitable.”

She continues, “People aren’t dumb. They see who’s riding those bikes, and they say ‘oh those aren’t for me.’” (The city was recently lauded for being the only one from the U.S. to make a Danish design firm’s yearly list of bike-friendly cities.) ]]

Updated Bike & Equity resources page!

Just a quick announcement that I updated the bike & equity resources page (it had been too long!). It is a list of almost 40 popular press articles and organization-based reports on equity issues in bicycle advocacy.

I’d specifically like to draw your attention to the recent reports out by the League of American Bicyclists that directly discuss equity and access to biking.

If you’d like to see an article or report linked to, please post in the comments and I will add it in. It is important that the sources are accessible to all (no academic articles behind pay walls).

Happy reading!

And now everything’s fine: Biking While Not White

Sahra Sulaiman over at Streets Blog just compiled a sad, but not surprising, list of recent events wherein police harassed a person of color on their bike. Sometimes the outcome was just some shattered nerves and humiliation. Other times it was a death sentence.

“A bike is the perfect excuse for officers to regularly stop and question them about their activities or why they are in a particular neighborhood.”

Just something for people to chew on; especially bicycle advocates who do not experience policing in this brutal, violent, murderous way.

This blog article by Sulaiman came about because of a racist Facebook group called “Black people with bikes that are’t theirs” (slated for deletion soon). And if you are curious, because the photos were all taken down, the “evidence” used (to show that Black people steal bikes) included famous African American bike advocates riding their bikes. Good job.

I think Tina Fey sums it up pretty well when she made this remark at the Golden Globes about a new movie (stay with me here).

“The movie Selma is about the American civil rights movement, that totally worked and now everything’s fine.”

RESPONSE TO: What My Bike Has Taught Me About White Privilege

I did *not* write the original post about how biking teaches people about white privilege. This post is my response to the original post.

This blog post has been getting a lot of attention this week. The author argues that for many privileged white people, riding a bicycle is one of the few times in our lives where we can feel what it is like to be marginalized (he brings the analogy to a racial conclusion).
I have heard this analogy before. It is true that it is a rare form of “-ism” for middle//upper class white folk to deal with.
BUT (and the commenters also point out a lot of buts), us white people cannot handle such marginalization! No we cannot. And so many of us run to city planning meetings demanding our bike lanes and paths. And the city planners listen to us because we are WHITE. And then we get what we think we deserve.
And so you can begin to see the problem not with this analogy so much but with this false pretense that we are indeed marginalized. We may be marginalized riding down a busy street but a lot of us know that we can fix our predicament. And that is a notion no one else shares with us.
With that said, if I had more time, I would run down a list of articles discussing EQUITY in bicycle planning. It is happening so fast I can barely keep up with tracking it all.

More later.

A Little More Sauce

The phrase “white privilege” is one that rubs a lot of white people the wrong way. It can trigger something in them that shuts down conversation or at least makes them very defensive. (Especially those who grew up relatively less privileged than other folks around them). And I’ve seen more than once where this happens and the next move in the conversation is for the person who brought up white privilege to say, “The reason you’re getting defensive is because you’re feeling the discomfort of having your privilege exposed.”

I’m sure that’s true sometimes. And I’m sure there are a lot of people, white and otherwise, who can attest to a kind of a-ha moment or paradigm shift where they “got” what privilege means and they did realize they had been getting defensive because they were uncomfortable at having their privilege exposed. But I would guess that more often than…

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MLK: Travels on Black America’s Main Street.

This is an excellent follow-up//complimentary photo-blog post about a parallel street to N. Williams Ave. (Portland), both literally and figuratively. MLK in Motion is a blog that is proactively tracking the rapid changes on the boulevard. Same story, different street.

MLK in Motion

These two signs appeared on the Vanport lot at MLK & Alberta recently:


“Along Martin Luther King: Travels on Black America’s Main Street” is Jonathan Tilove’s photojournal of his visits to various Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevards in the U.S., published in 2003. He writes:

The second question [“Are there any nice ones?”] has become more nettlesome as time has gone on. The implication of this question is that the streets might do more honor to King is they were nicer, a point of view expressed even by many folks on King. But why? If we wanted nice we could have undertaken a journey along Pleasant Street. Gentrification is about making a street “nice.” King’s life was not.

The genius of King streets is how they honor Martin Luther King in precisely the way that the national holiday cannot, by provoking passions and controversy and conflict, by stirring fervent debate…

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