Blaming the cyclist, once again. Thanks, hegemony!

Well, here we go again. Another story about a dead cyclist, another round of victim blaming.

Just over a month ago, I posted a critique of local news coverage about a drunk driver who killed a bike commuter. I argued that the news media took pains to affirm that the dead cyclist did not deserve to die by reporting that he was “careful” and wore protective equipment (lights and helmet). Headlines such as “Bicyclist fatally run over was new to Minneapolis, careful about bike safety” reminded some readers of the problematic rhetoric that media use when discussing sexual assault: “Woman raped was new to Minneapolis, careful about sexual assault.”

A victim of violence and their precautionary behavior is not relevant to these stories. What is relevant is the violence. By reaffirming that these victims were attempting to be “safe,” it then creates a dichotomy to those who are not “safe.” If a victim was not attempting to be safe, then how will their situation be read? And at the very least, who gets to define what is “safe”?

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Interview with Da Rich Kidzz

This summer, I brag-posted about meeting Da Rich Kidzz (FKA Y.N.RichKids). I was able to chat with G-6, Lady J, and Ben-10. Here is the transcript of our conversation. (Also I lack all ability to interview people under the age of 18, as illustrated here)


Melody: Who came up with the idea for “My Bike”?:

G-6: We all came up with the idea at the Beats and Rhymes program at the YMCA

Melody: Do you all ride bikes?

Group: Yes

Melody: everyday?

G-6: Yes.

Ben-on-10: Not every day.

Lady J: I do!

Melody: Do you ride to school or your friend’s house?

Lady J: I just ride back and forth at home.

Melody: You all live in North [Minneapolis] right?

Group: Yes

Melody: Ok, so do people your age think biking is cool?

G-6: I don’t know how other people feel about riding bikes but I know the friends I hang out with like to ride bikes.

Melody: So no one makes fun of you?

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Bike share programs really piss off rich people

To cut to the chase, here is an amazing Daily Show clip about NYC’s bike share program.

Here is my take:

In my dissertation, I spend a bit of time discussing Minneapolis’s bike share program, Nice Ride, and the city’s major, but intentional, screw up of not putting stations in North Minneapolis–our underemployed, predominately people of color area of town–when the program rolled out in 2011.

When I interview Mayor RT Rybak for my dissertation, i asked him about this very obvious omission. He told me,

First, we went where our accounts knew there was the most people biking. Knowing that that was the place we could succeed the most we also knew we had to quickly come up with a strategy to address affordability and location so we weren’t perpetuating the gaps in the system. So we immediately began working on grants strategies that would allow us to take more risks to put racks that may not be used as much in locations where it wasn’t as much of a bike culture. That’s where all the North Minneapolis ones came from. Then we worked a lot with the insurance folks about what they required because they anticipated so many bikes would be stolen.

I asked Debra (a former resident of North) of the Twin Cities Greenways organization whether she was concerned that the North side was not given Nice Rides immediately. She responded,

It was a concern of mine because they should have did it in the neighborhood but I also understood it was a pilot program, they wanted to try it out in areas that already had high bicycling activity. North Minneapolis does not have a high bicycling activity. But now that people have rallied around Nice Ride and spoke their mind to the mayor and to the Nice Ride officials, we have Nice Ride in the community.

In September 2011 I attended a community meeting in North Minneapolis about a proposed Greenway During the meeting, at least one community member referenced the initial lack of Nice Ride stations as a clear example of how the city does not prioritize North in its bicycle infrastructure planning.

This is not the first time bike share programs have been criticized for excluding predominantly poor and/or people of color neighborhoods.

Most recently, New York City rolled out its bike share program. And, as always, the criticisms came rolling in, too. But this time the criticism was just plain weird.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart recently did a piece, “Full Pedal Jacket,” on the NYC bike share program and what I am seeing as a new form of critique of bike share programs. Although the clip does explore the issue of poorer neighborhoods being excluded from a bike share program once again, the clip also exposes that these bikes are eye sores and a massive showing of the totalitarian city government. The extremely wealthy hate these ugly, ugly bikes.

I really have nothing to say about that besides…umm, ok? NYC clearly has a class that does not exist in other cities. A class so wealthy that they do not even think bicycles are cool. I have never heard this critique before, ever. Way to go 1%!

You gotta love the Citi Bike wheelies being popped outside of Manhattan–in a neighborhood without Citi Bike stations.  Of course.