- Bicycles and Race in Portland | Newgeography.com (PDF)
- What My Bike Has Taught Me About White Privilege | A Little More Sauce (PDF)
- Bike Lane Backlash, Even in Portland – CityLab (PDF)
- Meeting on Williams project turns into discussion of race, gentrification – BikePortland.org (PDF)
- Race, Opportunity and Uneven Development in Urban America (PDF)
Among the things that I have discovered about the Urban Cycling Movement is that is it more ‘clueless‘ than one might think. These are folks who think the use of the word ‘nigger‘ in blogs is somehow disgusting. But they have little understanding of just what the President meant when talking about the context of the use of the ‘N-word‘. That is at the root of their cluelessness.
This is a group that has developed a Collective Narrative that ends and begins with bicycle riding as a means to bring peace and prosperity to poor communities but do so in a context devoid of the word ‘jobs‘. They even complain that many folks on the south and west sides of the city ‘salmon‘.
But all they can see in their minds is the fact that someone is ‘breaking the law‘ (which they do at virtually every intersection, when the roll through stop signs and even do the same to stop lights). The irony of this detailed attention to the law when someone else is breaking it is sad and humorous simultaneously. And if you dig deeper you find that the problem really is that it is a bit of law breaking done by ‘blacks-and-browns‘.
In fact when an Urban Cyclist talks about scofflaw behavior they often frame their responses along the lines that the physics of the bicycle demands that they ride without regard to the Rules of the Road. This is the kind of thing you do when you cannot imagine that you are a lawbreaker but are instead a person who is ‘conserving momentum‘. Couched in those terms the act of law breaking is not about the law or the quality of the behavior of an individual. It is all about physics. This is of course ‘foolishness‘ (as my grandmother would say).
When You World Vision Cannot Be Questioned
It is often with a great deal of angst that these same Urban Cyclists face the glare of those who insist that their appetite for ‘bike lanes‘ is hastening the displacement (i.e. gentrification) of those same black-and-brown folks who ‘salmon‘. But these folks are likely to decide that such complaints are evidence that the speaker is ‘anti-bicycle‘. It is the same argument used by young blacks who after looting and robbing stores in their own neighborhoods (in protest of someone’s death) are faced with disgust by those who hate to see them stoop to a position that brings into question their moral rectitude.
So Here is the unvarnished truth. You can be a White Progressive and still support a racist system. You can be a supporter of Black Lives Matter and not realize that at the end of the day you have to be better than those whose actions you protest.
In essence the sun does not shine out of your rectum. Riding a bicycle does not inoculate you against racism, stupidity, greed and sexual perversion. Being black does not inoculate you against racism. You read that right.
The task at hand is not to get lost in the details of TOD to the point that you forget peoples lives are being disrupted. You cannot forget to be outraged that 50+ schools were closed at the same time that new bike lanes were being installed. You cannot escape hypocrisy by demanding that red light cameras and speed cameras continue to be used in most black-and-brown communities while rejecting the notion that you too must obey the Rules of the Road.
Pinpointing the Problem Is Not Easy
The Urban Cycling Movement is awash in learning to look the other way. Most of the Door Zone collisions are due to situations created when bike lanes are improperly installed. In fact the degree of stupidity in our intersection design (as compare to those installed by the Dutch) is breathtaking.
But here is the rub. We cannot really complain too loudly because that would be biting the hand that feeds us. Instead we strut around certain that anyone who does not share our enthusiasm for all this futility is anti-bike and thus we never get to the point of realizing that we just received a shiny new widget that does absolutely nothing to help us stay safe. But either from willful ignorance or an insipidly youthful enthusiasm we keep crowing and patting ourselves on the back for catching up to Place A or Place B in the race to have the most ‘stuff‘.
We act a bit like teenagers newly arrived in America who feel superior to their friends back in their home country because they have a dozen pair of new shoes bought from a place that buys them from their homeland. Of course the problem is that they do not respect the products that are made there. They have decided to become ‘totally American‘.
Our best bicycle infrastructure is basically ‘crap‘. Many of the folks are infrastructure design wonks, know this to be true. But they are probably too well-mannered to state the obvious. I am not.
We should be ‘mad as hell and unwilling to take this anymore‘. We are a bit like folks who go into a fast food restaurant and tell the manager that his food quality and preparation suck! He offers us coupons for a free meal next week and we greedily grab them up. We fail to realize that this makes no sense.
- The Dutch Are Building Purposeful BikeWays (BeezodogsPlace)
Ours is a fixation with guy on the airplane who is sitting in the seat behind ours and who feet and knees keep disturbing us. What we fail to understand is that when this particular jet was resigned they removed all the extra legroom and left us with a very bad flying experience.
The same is true of how we interact with buses, cars and pedestrians. We spend countless hours on our favorite forums bitching about how poorly we were treated by someone else. And we never stop to analyze why the ‘shadow‘ icons would have been placed in the ‘Door Zone‘ by anyone who actually rides a bicycle. Instead we keep our ambulance chaser on speed dial in the event we need his assistance. And then we return to our harangue of clueless motorists.
There are never anything but clueless pedestrians who get in our way on Dearborn Street. But did anyone ever ask why the crosswalk is so poorly designed? Nope. Instead we bitch and moan until some totally useless lettering is added to the crosswalk in the hopes that pedestrians will stop blocking our way.
Did anyone who really hates ‘shoaling‘ ever pause to consider how much of the problem can be attributed to the idea of allow cyclists to ‘filter‘ through traffic to climb into either the crosswalk or better yet in front of the cyclists already waiting there? No! We instead spend precious cycles complaining about the other guy and feeling smug.
We keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different outcomes. But you already know what that defines.
Someone ought to get angry enough to point out that the Protected Intersections in Amsterdam do a much better job of eliminating the ‘Right Hook‘. And then they should get their buddies to protest the current intersection designs until things change for the better. But I am guessing that this same group will find it more fun to pull stunts to block motorist traffic while executing ‘complete stops‘ at stop signs.
What a total waste of manpower and a complete lack of understanding of problem solving.