Five years ago today Portland resident Michelle DePass stood up at a meeting for a transportation project on North Williams Avenue and changed the course of local and national cycling politics forever:
“We have an issue of racism and of the history of this neighborhood,” DePass said. “Until we address that history and… the cultural differences we have in terms of respect, we are not going to move very far.”
There are as many ways to be a person who bikes as there are ways to be a person, and just as many ways to be a person of color.
That was part of the thinking shared by BikePortland reader Clement in a comment on yesterday’s post by Taz Loomans about how to get more racial and ethnic diversity into organized bike fun.
Here’s what Clement said:
This is a guest post by Noel Mickelberry, executive director of Oregon Walks and a member of the City of Portland’s Vision Zero Task Force.
Transportation advocacy doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Our city’s new goal to eliminate traffic fatalities doesn’t, either.
It’s something that shouldn’t need saying, but I feel it needs constant reiteration. It is entirely too easy, and too common, for us to look at our streets as a series of connections, people divided by mode, unattached to the other issues surrounding us or how our lives are inherently impacted by transportation decisions on a daily basis. The ease by which many of us working in transportation advocacy are able to view our streets — of course a bike lane should go here, of course a crosswalk is the answer there — is in itself a privilege.
As we develop Portland’s Vision Zero policies, I’m asking us to go further. And I’ve got five specific suggestions for how to do so.
When I started getting seriously interested in bicycles a few years ago, I already knew they were pollution-free, cheap, healthy, quiet, nonlethal and space-efficient.
What threw me for a loop, when I was talking to other Portlanders who were already interested in bicycles, was that they kept talking about community. Biking (and walking, and public transit) connected them with their neighbors and surroundings in a way that driving can’t.
Portland’s largest biking advocacy group has, for the first time, created a written policy to help it fight racial disparities in transportation.
“The reality of Portland is that while we are one of the whitest cities in America, it’s not going to be a white city forever.”
— Rob Sadowsky, BTA
As the most bikeable areas of Portland grow even whiter and many less bikeable areas grow even more diverse, the group says it needs to focus more on building “a community where everyone from all racial backgrounds has access to safe, healthy, and affordable transportation options.”
“The reality of Portland is that while we are one of the whitest cities in America, it’s not going to be a white city forever,” Executive Director Rob Sadowsky said Wednesday. “Over half of Portland Public Schools students already are students of color.”
(Image: Google Street View)
The City of Hillsboro and two of its police officers may head to trial this fall over a largely unreported 2012 incident in which the officers Tasered a 39-year-old Hillsboro man and kneed him into the ground after he allegedly rolled through a “don’t walk” light on his bike and then refused to give his name.
The interaction escalated over the course of three minutes from an evening traffic stop to a Taser-assisted takedown of a man who by all accounts had never attempted to physically harm the officers, though he did pull away from them when they tried to restrain and tackle him without warning.
Event Name: Echelon Gran Fondo
Event Start Date: September 26, 2010
Start Time: 8:30:00 AM
Web Site: http://www.echelongranfondo.org/portland/index.html
Event Description: Echelon Gran Fondo in the Columbia River Gorge is a festive and scenic road ride event with distance options of 30, 60 and 100 miles. Team Radio Shack’s Chris Horner rides along as ambassador of this exciting benefit for OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and the Livestrong Foundation. Enjoy the party atmosphere, race if you’d like during the 40k timed section or just enjoy the views of Mt. Hood as you pedal past entertainers and cheering spectators toward the finish line feast in Hood River.
Register yourself, a team or sponsor other riders today.
Event Name: Longview Grand Prix Criterium
Event Start Date: 14 August 2010
Start Time: 12:00:00 PM
Web Site: http://www.highlander-cycling.com
Event Description: This .5 mile Criterium will take place in the Longview Civic Center. This is a FAST course! Three lanes wide…pure speed…pour it on and let it go!
10 races between noon and 8:00 p.m. Categories 1-5, Pro, Masters, Juniors, a FIXIE race and a FREE kids race. Entry fee for first race is $30 – each additional race is $10. Juniors and FIXIE races are $10. Kids race is FREE.
$2,300 CASH PURSE plus prizes and preems. This is an OBRA sanctioned race. OBRA rules of racing apply and an OBRA license is required to race. One day licenses available at the race for $5. Register at www.OBRA.org or www.highlander-cycling.com
Presented by Highlander Cycling – 1313 Commerce Avenue Longview, WA 98632
Call for information @ 360-353-4790.
Map: Monticello Hotel at 1405 17th Avenue Longview, WA
“…the City of Portland is 450,000 people. It’s a homogeneous community that is very white… We are a very diverse, disjointed city of 4 million people… So we’re a step behind Portland in what we’re trying to do.”
— Michelle Mowery, bicycle coordinator for the City of Los Angeles
According to “LA’s hyper opinionated bicycle blog” Westside Bikeside, the bicycle coordinator for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation made some interesting comments at a City Council Transportation Committee meeting last week.