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  1. #1
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Diversity in your bike advocacy?

    Hi all,

    I'm creating a video slideshow for the upcoming California Bike Summit in November and I'm curious: Do your local bike advocacy groups, bike clubs and bike events look like the communities they take place in?

    I'd especially like to hear about stories in which you successfully engage or include groups who aren't typically thought of in the American context as "real cyclists" - i.e. people of color, recent immigrants, women, lower income, etc.


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    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Class? Anyone? Anyone?

    To prime the pump a little, have you seen examples similar to these?

    • the image in my original post is a Chinese billboard in San Jose California advertising an alternate commutes resource.
    • San Francisco advertises bike to work day in a number of languages
    • Denver Regional Council of Governments bike to work day promotional materials are in English and Spanish (last time I checked)


    Are the frequent dismissive assertions about "real cyclists" vs "DUI guys on bikes" we see here at A&S also a feature of your local advocacy discourse? Or are there efforts to be inclusive to people who wear cholo pants and ride flea market specials? How does your local group include minority groups in your outreach efforts?


    Last edited by richardmasoner; 09-27-13 at 11:57 AM. Reason: improve formatting

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    I'd love to contribute, but I'm not really involved with my local cycling advocacy groups.

    I will say that most people around here ride for recreation. I am the only one at my job (roughly 1000 employees on site) that rides in every day, although there are a few others that ride occasionally. The others are all more focused on racing and/or trail riding than commuting.

    The people in my community look like the average American, I think. A bit overweight and have a mindset that a car is required to get around. The riders I see are all men between the age of 20 and 50, and are all physically fit. Definitely not a representative population.

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    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    for a lot of diversity look at San jose Bike party. it is an event, but it not viewed postively by many people in the biking community.

    my observation is that there are three broad visible groups of cyclists in the san jose area. this is not scientific and the sizings are not

    Relatively affluent cylists, who commute, ride recreationally, kids ride errands. The commutters seem to be predominantly white males, people riding recreationaly are very diverse (go to los gatos creek trail on a weekend). Bike clubs seem to reflect this group

    People working low paying jobs, often in service and food areas. Look behind restraunts and car washes and you will see a lot bikes. Many are hispanic

    Homeless people. Broad diversity as the causes of homelessness are diverses.

    in this area both of the later two groups are well served by www.goodkarmabikes.org The make up of good karma it self is diverse, and many clients go on to volunteer at good karma.

    don't know if it helps
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  5. #5
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    ^ i'd break down your first group into smaller groups as not all recreational cyclists are "affluent".. there is a large segment of recreational cyclists in SJ who ride because it's fun and doesn't cost anything. obviously compared to the homeless these people would be considered rich but not when compared to silicon valley millionaires

    but as far as advocacy groups in SJ, I'd say there isn't really much diversity. The main group i can think about is Silicon Valley Bike Coalition, which feels more like a corporation than an advocacy group. The minimum donation required to join SVBC is $35, and a $1000 donation represents a "lifetime membership". So basically this group is made up of middle class and upper class folks.

    There are other bike organizations in SJ, notably San Jose Bike Party, which is very diverse. In some senses SJBP could be seen as an advocacy group, but the organizers don't seem to be interested in using their considerable reach to wield any kind of political power. They are content to use the parties themselves as a way of promoting biking, with mixed results.
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  6. #6
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
    for a lot of diversity look at San jose Bike party.
    Alrighty, @squirtdad :-) The slideshow I've been invited to show at California Bike Party will be specifically about SJBP as a model of a diverse bike event :-) I'm glad you mentioned it and I'm looking for other examples.

  7. #7
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
    The riders I see are all men between the age of 20 and 50, and are all physically fit. Definitely not a representative population.
    Thanks @spivonious. I see about 0.6% of Lancaster PA metro area residents commute by bike, according to US Census ACS data. Male commuters outnumber females by about 2 to 1, which is the same ratio you'll see in Portland, OR, believe it or not.

    I'm not sure why but I'm having a heck of a time extracting the racial breakdown for your area. I can see 40% of metro Lancaster residents are Hispanic, but I can't get the ratio who ride bikes to work.

    Pennsylvania as a whole is a very white state, comprising 82% of the population. 11% are black and 6% are Latino. Latinos make up 8% of bike commuters in PA; blacks make up 6% of bike commuters.

  8. #8
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frantik View Post
    ... the organizers don't seem to be interested in using their considerable reach to wield any kind of political power. They are content to use the parties themselves as a way of promoting biking, with mixed results.
    Thanks @frantik. Regarding SJBP organizers (such as they are) and political influence, watch http://ubsj.org/. The main guy behind SJBP (and this UBSJ effort) these days is Joe Tate. He's a vice president at Qualcomm and has been pressing the flesh with city officials.


    I've told Joe that he's done more for real bike promotion than any other group in the valley. Perhaps there's not a lot of political recognition, but SJBP has gotten more butts on bike over the past six years than SVBC (and it's predecessor organization) has done over the past forty. Their main accomplishment is making biking acceptable for the mainstream person who isn't in it for fitness or ideological reasons.

    This woman below (seen at the August bike party) is somebody who is often mocked as "not a real cyclist" on this A&S forum, but I see somebody having fun on a bike who may someday vote and perhaps speak out at a community meeting for better bike facilities.



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    Quote Originally Posted by richardmasoner View Post
    Thanks @spivonious. I see about 0.6% of Lancaster PA metro area residents commute by bike, according to US Census ACS data. Male commuters outnumber females by about 2 to 1, which is the same ratio you'll see in Portland, OR, believe it or not.

    I'm not sure why but I'm having a heck of a time extracting the racial breakdown for your area. I can see 40% of metro Lancaster residents are Hispanic, but I can't get the ratio who ride bikes to work.

    Pennsylvania as a whole is a very white state, comprising 82% of the population. 11% are black and 6% are Latino. Latinos make up 8% of bike commuters in PA; blacks make up 6% of bike commuters.
    Yeah, once you get out of Lancaster city, it's mostly white. I'm in the suburbs myself, so I can't comment on the ridership in the city. Of the 5 riders I see most days, one is black and the others are white. All men who seem to be in their 40s or 50s.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by richardmasoner View Post
    SJBP has gotten more butts on bike over the past six years than SVBC (and it's predecessor organization) has done over the past forty. Their main accomplishment is making biking acceptable for the mainstream person who isn't in it for fitness or ideological reasons.
    no doubt they have increased recreational cycling among those who might not otherwise ride that often. it will be interesting to see about UBSJ..

    these guys represent sj cycling to me



    not sure who took that picture btw
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  11. #11
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frantik View Post
    not sure who took that picture btw
    The photographer is Yours Truly. I love those Bump-n-Beaners guys.

    Do I know you in the real world, @frantik?

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    Quote Originally Posted by richardmasoner View Post
    Do I know you in the real world, @frantik?
    maybe....
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    The few photos I've seen of organized city bike rides here in Baltimore, MD show mostly young, white riders. I can tell you the cycling demographics according to what I've seen over the past decade in quite a few parts of this city and some of its suburbs, but I'm not sure if you're looking at this part of the country or just CA. Also, I don't belong to any bike clubs or advocacy groups, so it would just be an account of my own observations.

  14. #14
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    I shall give greeting when I see that bike @frantik.

    I can be seen on the Guadalupe River Trail traveling between downtown and my office near River Oaks Parkway.

  15. #15
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    I'm interested in nationwide observations @Berta so I appreciate the feedback.

    If 70% of your city are African American and organized rides are mostly white, it sounds like ride organizers should work to diversify if they have any interest in increasing and improving cycling in your city.

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    Quote Originally Posted by richardmasoner View Post
    I'm interested in nationwide observations @Berta so I appreciate the feedback.

    If 70% of your city are African American and organized rides are mostly white, it sounds like ride organizers should work to diversify if they have any interest in increasing and improving cycling in your city.
    In my area, the NE part of the city, I see mostly two types of street riders: African-American teenage boys on BMX bikes and the occasional hybrid and cruiser, and A.A. men who look to be from 20 to their late-30's with a stray 40+ here and there using their bikes for transportation. I do occasionally see road bikes too. I wouldn't be surprised if some people aren't enthusiastic about riding here because they equate bikes with being unable to afford a car, and/or feel it's unsafe to ride here. I've never seen a woman cyclist on the street in my area, and I am quite the oddity, in fact, on three fronts: white, female, late-middle-aged. In fact, the most invisible demographic I've seen anywhere in the city is anyone over 40. Also, I'm honestly not sure I've ever seen anyone wear a helmet in my neighborhood. If I have, it's been only a few times.

    Downtown and in the trendier areas are where I've seen a lot more young, white male and female cyclists, usually on road bikes and hybrids. We have some major universities here, especially med schools, but I still haven't seen that many of these cyclists out and about on any given day. Cycling isn't what I'd consider really big here compared to other cities (D.C. comes to mind), yet we have no shortage of good LBSs in both the city and suburbs. Of course, this is all anecdotal, and in fact when I'm drifting around on my bike in the SE part of the city in the wee hours, I see lots of bikes locked up on the street, in parking garages and inside apartment buildings.

    MUPs are where most of the diversity is, with more races represented, especially more Latinos, a lot more women, kids, road bikes, mtbs, hybrids, etc. This is especially true at the BWI loop. The track around the lake near me, where I walk and run, are where I see more road cyclists in kit, all young and both African-American and white. They all appear to be very fit and experienced, more so than anybody else I see riding there. This and the BWI loop are the only places I see some older riders (but still mostly under 60) and some African-American women, but these women rarely appear to be under 40-something.

    In the suburbs, I've mostly seen young men, white and A.A., using their bikes to get to work. I've seen lots of BMX or full-suspension mtbs locked up along the front of Wal-Mart and H-Mart, the Asian grocery I go to in Catonsville. I would bet that the H-Mart cyclists are largely Latino and likely fairly young men.

    I hope this helps. Good luck with your project! Oh--one more thing, and I am not nitpicking, just pointing something out with your original post. I'd be inclined to think that a lot of Americans equate "serious" cyclists with road bikes, lycra and helmets, so more of a looks thing, of gear rather than race or gender, but I could be wrong.

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    Chainstay Brake Mafia
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    Quote Originally Posted by richardmasoner View Post
    I shall give greeting when I see that bike @frantik.

    I can be seen on the Guadalupe River Trail traveling between downtown and my office near River Oaks Parkway.
    hah.. you saw that bike at the Hedding green bike trail celebration
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  18. #18
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berta View Post
    I'd be inclined to think that a lot of Americans equate "serious" cyclists with road bikes, lycra and helmets, so more of a looks thing, of gear rather than race or gender, but I could be wrong.
    Thank you Berta. The stereotype of the "serious cyclist" is also one that I'd like to tackle. You'll find me in the uniform for my weekend rides, but I think we need to get away from the idea that people need to suit up for a short, simple ride.

  19. #19
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richardmasoner View Post
    I'm interested in nationwide observations @Berta so I appreciate the feedback.

    If 70% of your city are African American and organized rides are mostly white, it sounds like ride organizers should work to diversify if they have any interest in increasing and improving cycling in your city.
    I think most organizers of bike rides have little to no interest in working for diversity and their insistence on helmet wear guarantees that they will only get the right kind of cyclists for their events. Any jabber about insurance companies require it when not required by law is so much hooey. How representative of the Chicago population is this Lake Shore Drive Event?


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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    I think most organizers of bike rides have little to no interest in working for diversity and their insistence on helmet wear guarantees that they will only get the right kind of cyclists for their events. Any jabber about insurance companies require it when not required by law is so much hooey. How representative of the Chicago population is this Lake Shore Drive Event?
    That's a new one: Organizers who "insist" on helmet-use are being racist. Somebody should add that to the crazy "helmet" thread!
    Last edited by njkayaker; 10-10-13 at 10:35 AM.

  21. #21
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    That's a new one: Organizers who "insist" on helmet-use are being racist. Somebody should add that to the crazy "helmet" thread!
    "Racist"?

    BTW got any pictures of your local bicycling club or riding compatriots?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    "Racist"?

    BTW got any pictures of your local bicycling club or riding compatriots?
    What, exactly, do you expect that to show?

    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    and their insistence on helmet wear guarantees that they will only get the right kind of cyclists for their events.
    Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...can_population
    Iowa doesn't appear to be interested in "diversity" either! (Yes, I'm being sarastic!)
    Last edited by njkayaker; 10-10-13 at 11:19 AM.

  23. #23
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    What, exactly, do you expect that to show?
    Lack of diversity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    Lack of diversity.
    You mean, like Iowa? Are Iowans racist?

    Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

  25. #25
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    I canceled my membership in the San Diego County Bike Coalition over their cozying up to SANDAG, the San Diego Association of Governments. I believe that real bike advocacy should have a slightly adversarial relationship with government agencies. (Read the 1st amendment). By working with SANDAG, I see them giving up the initiative to political "realities" and in the process ignoring the concerns of real cyclists. I belong to two cycling subcultures; roadie, and commuter.

    SDCBC does promote some benefit for commuters, but tends to focus on the promotional, like the Tour de Fat, which draws the casual 2 mile per month demographic. This does nothing for the interests 100-200 mile per week riders like me. They also tend to rubber stamp SANDAG pet projects that are intended largely to feed money to political contributors who would build bike paths to nowhere.
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

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