Bike/Walk Equity, a “a loose coalition of diverse leaders across the United States committed to equity, diversity and inclusion in the bike/walk movement,” has posted an Open Letter to the League of American Bicyclists Board of Directors on Medium that calls into question, with great professionalism and thoughtfulness, the Bike League’s recent decision to appoint a new Executive Director rather than conduct a national search:
We believe that the League’s decision to bypass a national search is a recurring example of an organizational practice that systematically undermines equity, diversity and inclusion within our growing bike/walk movement.
I (Stephen Zavestoski) was particularly disheartened to learn of this news as it followed on the heels of Adonia Lugo, the Bike League’s first Equity Initiative Manager, leaving the organization earlier this year. A lifelong bike commuter, I only became a dues-paying member of the Bike League in 2013 when Lugo was hired and it appeared that a fundamental shift towards diversity and inclusion in the organization’s agenda and strategies had occurred.
But Lugo resigned a few months back and recently blogged that she had to step down after realizing that
I couldn’t accomplish what I’d set out to do…I wasn’t just raising awareness about exclusion in bicycle advocacy, I was experiencing it…As a woman of color, I didn’t have the power to solve the problem I’d been hired to fix.
Read the Open Letter and stay tuned for the Bike League’s formal response.
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. Continue reading
As we described in our last post, a new report by the Bike League questions the continued usefulness of the term “invisible cyclist.” Adonia Lugo, one of the report’s authors and Equity Initiative Manager for the League of American Bicyclists, has organized a webinar on “Equitable Bike Advocacy and the ‘Invisible Cyclist'” to explore a range of questions around bike advocacy the “invisible cyclist.”
Steve Zavestoski will be part of the discussion and will live tweet the webinar from @invisiblcyclist. A description of the event, scheduled for Oct. 31 at 10am PDT, follows.
From the Bike League:
In our recent report on “The New Movement: Bike Equity Today”, we shared interviews with many people around the U.S. who see the bicycle as a community empowerment tool. We also questioned the term “invisible cyclist,” which many bike advocates use as a way to refer to people of color who use bikes but do not participate in advocacy. Does this term make the efforts of today’s bike advocates who are people of color harder to see? Join us for a discussion with Professor Stephen Zavestoski of the University of San Francisco, the co-editor of the new book Incomplete Streets, Do Lee of Biking Public Project in New York City, and Najah Shakir of Boston Bikes as we explore what invisibility means for bike users and bike advocates.
The Bike League’s new report, The New Movement: Bike Equity Today (PDF) asks an important question about terms like “invisible riders” and “invisible cyclists”:
Have the terms distracted us from the vital importance of making every person who rides a bike visible? Continue reading
Recently Steve was preparing to teach a course in which students would develop a bicycle transportation plan for the University of San Francisco, so he began to look into the range of issues the class would need to understand in order to situate the plan in the broader context of the bicycle advocacy and bicycle culture bursting from what seemed like every corner of San Francisco.
Trained as en environmental sociologist, and working at a university that takes its social justice mission seriously, transportation justice was one issue Steve knew the class would have to examine. So he delved into the literature on the transportation justice movement and looked at the websites of major environmental justice organizations doing transportation justice work. He found little to no mention of the role of the bicycle in transportation justice. Continue reading