While utilitarian cycling is becoming more racially diverse, a 2010 study states that 23% of utilitarian cyclists are Asian-American, Latinx, or Black. There is still a problem The infrastructure for Black, Latinx, and Asian-Americans is woefully inadequate and not only that it is purposefully inadequate for the convenience of the middle class (that’s code for white people.)
In general, cities and counties idea of cycling is recreational. Getting cycling accessible to hyper-segregated communities is not only challenging, but nearly impossible, especially when kudos continue to be given for just the act of carFREE parks and wilderness areas, where road, mountain, and other recreational cyclists practice.
This is problematic, because road and mountain cycling are unabashedly very white, very male, and both take a large amount of economic and social capital to participate.
What message does it send to Latinx and Asian-American delivery cyclists? What message does it send to working class Black people who use their bike to get home. People who use their bike, because of poor bus and train service and housing on the outskirts owing to racism, which makes cycling not a choice, but a requirement, but sadly only for the young and able bodied, because the streets where Latinx and Black people live are some of the most dangerous and inhospitable to people who walk and ride their bike.
White people get a carFREE park and a new train and we get run over for just crossing the street?
It is noticeable to Black and Latinx communities that the only place in many cities where you can get some infrastructure is one where you have a loud and vocal demographic of roadies.
Is the only voice that matters for bike and public transportation infrastructure, a white and male one who bikes in the Switzerland during the summer?
Road and mountain bicycles cost thousands of dollar, yes, bicycles are cheaper than a car, but sometimes they are more and besides the single story narrative (highly annoying and insulting by the way) many cycling advocacy organizations give is that ALL Black and Latinx people are poor, so adding multimodality cycling to the mix is about caring about diversity and equity.
How do you expect the general public to buy this (so basic) story when you promote 50-100 mile rides with expensive entry fees?
Poor people can’t afford a bike over $500 dollars and the economically oppressed aren’t invited to ride to Europe to ride around in circles and they also aren’t invited to ride around the mountain tops of Africa, so this great for parks being carFREE that benefit the demographic of people practicing for these tournaments is not progress for people who need bicycles to get to and from work.
I am a utilitarian cyclist, like many people of color who ride a bicycle for transportation. I need a separated bike lane on Bloomfield in NJ, Flatbush in Brooklyn, and Crenshaw in Los Angeles. I don’t need a place to clear my head and I don’t need or care about riding my bicycle to Canada.
I need to get to work.
I know in cycling we’re supposed to not separate the roadies from the utilitarian cyclists, but in my opinion roadies are bringing their white supremacist all male hobby perspective (we’re still having firsts Black people moments in roadie and mountain cycling in 2018, which is not only ridiculous, but disgraceful) into a lane that is harmful to the average person just trying to get home. This entire country was built for the benefit of rich white men and rich white men shouldn’t get to ride their bikes first, just because they are rich white men.
If you spend money on an all white and practically all male hobby (and the women division is even more white than the men,) I don’t know how well you can speak on issues of equity, being fair, and being just when you only do it Monday-Friday from 9-5 p.m. I don’t know how you can advocate for fairness, when your free time is spent on a hobby that has no problem being racist, sexist, and classist.
In part B will address some concrete ways to address these issues.