A decade after their groundbreaking report on racial equity was published, the Community Cycling Center is once again delving into the topic.
When we first reported on the CCC’s Understanding Barriers to Bicycling project in 2009, the conversation about race in Portland’s cycling scene was all but nonexistent. The group’s former executive director, Alison Graves, boldly went where no Portland bike advocates had gone before — to meeting rooms full of African immigrants and other people of color — to learn what they thought about bicycling and why some of them were so reluctant to do it.
“The people riding and making decisions about bicycles is a white, middle class group,” she shared with us at the time.
Little did Graves know that racial justice would quickly become a dominant strain of local advocacy discourse. “I think we have a lot of work to do to make bicycling more inclusive,” Graves said in 2009. Three years later, the North Williams Avenue project became a flashpoint when Black residents on the project’s advisory committee cried foul. Ever since then, the quest for racial justice has gained prominence in local planning and political spheres. In 2020, as the streets of Portland convulsed with Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd, the Portland Bureau of Transportation announced they would be an antiracist agency.
In an email Tuesday, the CCC said their 2012 report (PDF) remains relevant and continues to shape their work. “However, we want to build upon the original study and further explore new and existing barriers to biking, specifically in east Portland,” they wrote.
Work on an updated report began this past spring to set up a public engagement plan that will include interviews and focus groups. They’ve also just released a new online survey that is open to all Portlanders.
We’re excited to hear about this work. Stay tuned for more coverage as it develops.