Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bicycling for ethnic minorities -- presentation today at noon

Most bicyclists in Portland look pretty white. And the bicycling industry caters toward the style preferences of middle class white folks.

If we're going to reach out to ethnic minorities, especially lower income ones, and help them see the modern miracle of bicycle transportation, we need to do something that we're not doing yet.

What is it? I'm not sure, but a good start would be to come to Allison Graves' presentation at the Portland Bicycle Brownbag series. Today at noon, Portland Building (SW 5th and Madison).

In my mind, I see it as being partially an outreach issue, but partly an issue of style preferences for transportation. Many black people drive older 4 door sedans (with sound systems, racing tires and chrome rims), while in the same neighborhoods white people drive Subarus. If bikes are associated with Subarus, it's not going to be an easy sell.

Scraper Bikes are the fad among the black community in Oakland, but I'm thinking that a more subdued appearance would be the preferred vehicle of the Portland crowd. Manufactured chrome rims. Dark, pure colors, or white, but no pastels. Something that looks like a Wall Mart full suspension bike, but is lighter and actually rideable.

There's lots of low-income black, hispanic and SE Asian people in Portland, who work low-paying jobs all over the city. They would all benefit from development of a bicycle culture that revolved around their style preferences so they can choose to bike to work and not look like they're driving a Subaru.

Thoughts, observations, comments?

Yours in The Faith,
Pasture Ted


Official Announcement from the Portland Bureau of Transportation:

Thursday, April 15th: Understanding Barriers to Bicycling

Have you noticed who rides bicycles in your community? Have you noticed who doesn’t?

In early 2009 the Community Cycling Center recognized that, despite the cost savings and health benefits of bicycling, many people cannot or do not choose bicycles to get around — particularly among communities of color.

Alison Graves, Executive Director of the Community Cycling Center, will share what has been learned during the Understanding Barriers to Bicycling project and what can be done to reduce roadblocks to bicycle use.

Thursday,April 15th – Noon to 1 pm
Portland Building
1120 SW 5th Avenue, 2d floor Room C
(bring your lunch!)


  1. until the bike advocacy groups begin to include people from these demographics, the message will be seen as coming from yet another bunch of well-meaning white liberals. to get blacks, latinos, vietnamese, etc. into the bike advocacy movement, i think you first need to make connections with the existing neighborhood restoration orgs, etc. do some kind of joint activity, as a result of which some of your people end up working within their groups on whatever -- boardups, gang outreach, self-policing, whatever -- and some of their people end up working within the bike advocacy stuff. like that.

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