Recommended Read: “Most Cyclists Are Working-Class Immigrants, Not Hipsters”

There’s a great piece by Andrew Keatts on Governing, a media platform for state and local government leaders, that engages meaningfully with both the problematic nature of the term “invisible cyclist” and creative strategies for doing inclusive bike advocacy and bike planning. It includes some nice illustrations of the creative efforts happening in Houston and Los Angeles with comments from activists in those cities as well as insights from bicycling researchers (and advocates) like Adonia Lugo and Jim Longhurst. Whether you read the original post, “Memo to Cities: Most Cyclists Aren’t Urban Hipsters,” which appeared on The Urban Edge, the blog of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, or the re-post on Governing (which is titled Most Cyclists Are Working-Class Immigrants, Not Hipsters), you should read this piece and then come back here to read some of the thoughts we’ve shared in previous posts on inclusive bike advocacy and planning, including:

Invisible cyclist: Has the term reached the end of its usefulness?

In this post we point out two problems that contribute to the failure of bike advocacy and planning to be more inclusive: (1) the problem of how we count cyclists (hint: usually in ways that overlook people of color, poor people, immigrants, and others who ride out of necessity); and (2) the problem of what we call “the new bicyclist bias” which refers to advocacy and planning strategies aimed at converting drivers into bicyclists sometimes at the expense of those who are already riding.

Lessons from the Green Lanes? Listen to Communities of Color

This post offers a constructive critique–once again focusing on some of the methodological gaps in bicycle research that shape who gets counted–of what some bicycle advocates treat as a sort of holy grail: protected bike lanes (or “green lanes”). This post is particularly relevant to a nice quote from Most Cyclists Are Working-Class Immigrants, Not Hipsters in which Sam Ollinger of Bike San Diego says that “the problem is that so much of the American bike advocacy world uses Europe as its model to make cities more hospitable to cyclists. Looking to European cities inevitably leads to infrastructure as a solution, even when there may be other options.”

It’s great to see these discussions continuing to unfold. Please share in the comments any links or other resources that reflect the interesting work happening in the world of inclusive bike advocacy and planning. Or tweet them to us @invisblcyclist

2 thoughts on “Recommended Read: “Most Cyclists Are Working-Class Immigrants, Not Hipsters”

  1. The divisive tone of the article, “Most Cyclists Are Working-Class Immigrants, Not Hipsters” as well as supporting comments in your post, disturbs me. The author of the original article as well as your references seem more interested in dividing various sorts of cyclists than finding ways to improve bicycling for working-class people. I tried to capture my thoughts in this post on our Defying Poverty with Bicycles blog: http://www.blogdefyingpovertywithbicycles.org/2015/11/divisive-article-on-working-class.html .

    I appreciate many of the comments on the Governing post as they seem to share my concerns. Articles and messaging like this only do harm to bicycle programs; any bicycle program, for anyone.

    Sue

  2. Thanks for the comment, Sue. Although we’ve not posted regularly, our aim has always been to identify common ground and shared goals around which the bike advocacy and social justice movements can build healthy and mutually beneficial relationships. Towards that end, we even asked in one post whether the term “invisible cyclist” might “distract us from the vital importance of making every person who rides a bike visible?” I guess in this particular post, based on your read, we were not upholding our promise. We’ll try to do better in the future.

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