Saturday, August 6, 2011

bike lanes are white lanes

My good friend is moving to Portland, OR and told me about a new controversy there regarding bike lanes. Portland has its share of racism and gentrification problems and a proposal for new bikes lanes has ignited a new discussion about bikes and race. A proposal for bike lanes to go through a Black neighborhood is turning into a bigger fight than anyone in the bike community imagined.  I find this totally fascinating for a few reasons: 1. Bicycles are usually not theorized as being a "negative" technology. Bikes are supposed to save the earth, save your body, and save you money!  Yet, the theory that bicyclists are a form of gentrification has been gaining steam recently (and one that I am exploring in my dissertation). 2. A Black community is being very vocal about the negative impact bicycles have on their community and are also making the mostly-white bike community question its demanding of space for mobility. For example, one Black community member proposed space for wheelchairs. And 3. the fact that most bicyclists in urban settings are white is a longstanding fact, but it something that people have been very afraid to talk about. Well, not anymore!

For more on this, check out this story:
"The project has touched a nerve for some in this North Portland community who have deep distrust of the City and anger borne from decades of institutional racism and ongoing struggles in the community."

1 comment:

  1. similar debate going on re: LRT transit between MPLS and St. Paul, if you are interested. This is EG, BTW.