American Cities Lack Safe Infrastructure for Bikers of Color

Health + Wellness
A Black cyclist in downtown Louisville, Kentucky
A Black cyclist in downtown Louisville, Kentucky on Sept. 24, 2020. Jeff Dean / AFP via Getty Images

Efforts to make Los Angeles, and other cities across the country, more bike friendly are ignoring one of the biggest obstacles to making cycling safer for BIPOC residents: cops.

“As transportation planners, we’ve gone straight to the physical infrastructure, when for Black cyclists — and there are growing numbers of them — it’s not about infrastructure so much,” Julian Agyeman, a professor of environmental policy and urban planning at Tufts University, told Prism Reports. “Cycling while Black is an issue. We are policing Blackness and brownness in these cities.”

Cycling increased dramatically during the pandemic, especially in BIPOC communities, but that growth has not been mirrored in changes to cities’ decision-making. Getting more people cycling is typically viewed as an unalloyed positive, but cities are failing to account for the fact that for many it also means more interaction with police.

“When we’re talking about safety of Black and brown people, whether that’s on bike, whether we’re on foot, however, we’re deciding that we’re going to move through these public spaces, police have always been a problem,” said Los Angeles resident and cyclist Lena Williams.

As reported by Prism:

By working closely with communities least serviced and historically disadvantaged by local and municipal governments, Williams said there are many immediate changes public officials could enact to increase roadway safety for cyclists. Streetlights, cleaner bike lanes, road material paved to slow car traffic, speed humps, and trees that offer shade along bike lanes and near bus stops would dramatically change the experience of cyclists and demonstrate that the city wants to invest in BIPOC neighborhoods. And these aren’t just changes that improve conditions for bicyclists, rather they’re road safety measures that would benefit neighborhoods as a whole. 

For a deeper dive:

Prism Reports

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