Even as advocates have fought against unsafe road design and reckless driving, pedestrian and bicycle fatalities have continued to increase, reaching new record levels in 2019. While making our streets safe for everyone is critical, relying on an enforcement-centric approach too often ignores the vastly different lived experiences of Black and brown people with law enforcement.
Today, U.S. cities are using a new tool to help make bike transportation a mainstream part of urban American life: protected bike lanes. As this investment has taken place, city leaders and community activists have asked us for advice on how to make sure their decisions about this infrastructure don’t continue the cycle of oppression.
At the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC), the fear of being robbed and assaulted while bicycling ranked as the number two barrier to bicycling, second only to the fear of a traffic collision in our most recent study of bicycle access and usage among Blacks and Hispanics in thirty-four neighborhoods throughout New Jersey.
Justice-oriented advocates are generally denied the opportunity to bring their whole selves to a space and are more likely to be tokenized — forced to pick their battles, to speak within a constrained set of categories, to suffer outright dismissal for straying too far from those categories, and to serve as stand-ins for the entirety of the diverse communities they represent. These principles were drafted using perspectives gathered at "The Untokening: A Convening for Just Streets & Communities" held in Atlanta, GA on November 13, 2016. Instead of offering ready-made solutions, these principles outline recommendations for mobility justice that are rooted in the liberation of historically marginalized communities.
Advocates often aim to make cycling a more accessible resource for Blacks, Latinos, and other underrepresented groups. But they may be missing one of the biggest deterrents to bicycling among this population — fear for personal safety.
Questions? We have answers.