Bicycling and equity: Heed the call, expand the movement

Street Fight covers the National Bike Summit and its outreach to women and minorities

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx addresses the National Bike Summit.
Jason Henderson

STREET FIGHT In the face of increased gasoline prices and congestion, more public awareness of the relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and driving, and interest in physical activity, bicycling has experienced a mini-boom throughout the US. Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Pittsburgh, Portland, Seattle, Washington, DC, and many smaller university cities, such as Boulder and Madison, have seen impressive increases in utilitarian bicycling.

In San Francisco, 3.5 to 6 percent of all trips are made by bicycle, amounting to roughly 150,000 bicycle trips in the city each day, a jump from around 1 percent of trips in the 1990s. The majority of these trips are for utilitarian purposes such as shopping and commuting, not recreation. Stand on Market and 10th streets on any weekday and you'll see that bicycling has surged in San Francisco. In parts of Hayes Valley, the Mission, and Upper Market, over 10 percent of commuting is by bicycle. The city's official goal — 9 percent of all citywide trips by 2018 and 20 percent in the next decade — is important for making San Francisco more livable.

But it's also fundamental for making San Francisco more equitable. That's right, equitable.

In many respects, bicycling is among the most equitable forms of urban transportation because it is affordable and accessible to almost everyone. Bicycling is far cheaper, safer, healthier, and cleaner than driving, and when considering global equity, far saner for a national climate policy. And for many low income workers, bicycling is also an affordable conveyance that enables not just physical mobility but also financial stability.

Indeed, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx points out that nationally, a third of all bike trips are made by adults making under $30,000 and that the bicycle can have a substantial role in reducing the overall cost of living for the working class. But unfortunately lower class, non-white cyclists are also more likely to be in fatal collisions.

Speaking at the annual National Bicycle Summit in Washington, DC, earlier this month, Foxx, an African American former mayor of Charlotte, N.C., said that the federal government needs to devote more attention to making bicycling part of everyday life for the working class. Emphasizing the need for safety and convenience, Foxx was especially enthused about cycletracks — bikeways that are fully separated from automobiles and offer space for women, children, and older Americans to safely navigate cities by bike.

Foxx's address followed a day of equity-themed panels and plenaries attended by more than 700 people. The League of American Bicyclists, focused on lobbying Congress and the White House, announced a new equity agenda to reach out to women, people of color, and to focus on reinvigorating a more progressive and egalitarian tone for bicycle advocacy.

Social justice advocates and community organizers had a strong presence at the summit, which has historically reflected a whiter, upper-middle-class male constituency. One presenter discussed bicycling and women's prison rehabilitation, sharing how women who suffered from abuse, drug addiction, and imprisonment found bicycle riding to be normalizing and helpful for personal growth and for managing depression and anxiety.

A panel session titled "Learning from Los Angeles" showed how advocacy for bicycling can also come from community-based organizations, not just bicycle groups. Social justice issues are fundamental to LA's inner city bicycle movement; over a third of South Central Los Angeles households are car free, and community organizers there have made a clearer connection between economic inequity and environmental problems.


You can't take others with you.

You can't carry heavy loads.

You can't use freeways, tunnels and many bridges

You can't travel long distances in any reasonable time

You can't ride a bike if you are very young, very old, disabled ot nervous

It's the ultimate in private transport - even more so than cars.

You feel you don't have to obey any of the traffic rules, which means that everyone hates you.

You are usually young, white, male, affluent and wear nasty lycra or spandex.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2014 @ 3:28 pm

@Guest - But it's clear from your comment that you don't let reality intrude on your anonymous ranting.

Posted by Jym Dyer on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 10:05 am

That wasn't even a decent attempt. Please refute my individual points, above, if you can, otherwise readers will assume that you cannot.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 10:33 am

@Guest - In theory we have it easier here than in many parts of the world where people commute by bike. As for your cowardly anonymous goading and blather about what readers will assume, I'll take my chances.

Posted by Jym Dyer on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 10:40 am

90% of your 90% figure is in third world basket case nations and so not relevant here.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 10:52 am

Dude find something productive to do with your time

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 2:56 pm

everything will be fine?

Why do you assume that one person is responsible for all posts by "Guest"?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 3:07 pm

Why can't you take others with you? Ever heard of a tandem? There are four wheel pedal powered vehicles that can ride 6 adults at a time. Or everybody can employ a solo bike and do a group ride.

You can carry heavy loads. The units for this purpose are called cargo bikes. Bullitt makes an excellent version which can haul 100's of pounds. Check the Fossil Fool website for other examples of cargo bikes.

The day will come, soon, when there are bike lanes on freeways, tunnels and bridges.

What constitutes 'reasonable time' and 'long distance' is pure opinion.The AIDS benefit ride covers something like 600 miles in 5 days.

Have you never been to a retirement community and seen the folks there pedaling about on trikes?

You've posited this 'bikes are the ultimate private transport' more than once here. Again, nothing but an opinion.

The rest of your post is bovine manure.

Posted by H Howard Folsom III on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

equipment with you for hundreds of miles in a few hours on a bike.

No way.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 6:30 am

Your lack of imagination stifles any response.

Have a nice day while confined in your little metal box.

Posted by H Howard Folsom III on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 3:20 pm

And so you fell back on what so many do in that situation and went off on a personal attack, thereby effectively admitting defeat in the debate.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 4:28 pm

Quite the contrary.

I merely pointed out that your mind appears to be closed on the subject.

If that makes you feel like a 'winner' I'm not surprised.

Posted by H Howard Folsom III on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 5:06 pm

Obviously they are too difficult for you

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 5:37 pm

I'm not trying to be obtuse, but rereading your posts I failed to spot any questions.

Questions are usually followed by question marks, yes?

You did however, make statements.

In any event, your refusal to take seriously any mode of conveyance besides a personal automobile rather reinforces my point quite nicely.

Thank you, sir.

Posted by H Howard Folsom III on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 6:53 pm

Dress it up any way you want.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 7:31 pm

Go die of a heart attack cager. You are overweight, angry, have diabetes and high blood pressure and don't even comprehend why.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 11:12 pm

Excellent point. That, of course has to change.

Imagine how many people would ride if there were separated, covered, lanes on bridges, freeways and tunnels. That is a great idea whose time is soon approaching.

Of course the statements regarding carrying heavy loads, etc, are in error. Such developements as cargo bikes and tandem bikes have changed all that.

In fact, as for load carrying, simply a few lengths of good polyester line and a knowledge of simple knots such as the prussik, the bowline, trucker's hitch, rolling hitch on a spar and a good rack allows for all sorts of that.

Generally I find tying a cardboard box or boxes to the book rack--or one of those large plastic hampers--to the back of the bike works great, and I also "guy" the load down to the frame near the rear drop outs using prussiks or rolling hitch-on-spar on the frame. Tension can be put on all the lines by using using trucker's hitches which act like two-part tackle (and which can be cascaded for even greater pull).

I regularly do errands such as runs to the hardware store, grocery shopping, and laundry by bike nowadays and haven't driven my car in over a month. (Bike to Bart works great at all times of day now, too.)

And now for a happy song:

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 1:07 pm

So what would you know about the transport needs of most families?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 1:16 pm

And what do you know about it 'guest'?

Give us some information to bolster your claims of expertise in the field of 'most families'.

Posted by H Howard Folsom III on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

The statistics clearly show that since bike share is tiny.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 4:29 pm

From whence springs your authority to speak for 'most families'.

Please provide a link for these statistics.

Posted by H Howard Folsom III on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 5:12 pm

All you have to do is look out your window. For every one bicycle trip there are around 100 car trips. Are you really that invested in pushing your bicycle-first agenda that it would cause you to ignore obvious common sense?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 5:28 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 5:38 pm

Feel better now?

Posted by H Howard Folsom III on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 6:56 pm

But annoying that I have to.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 7:32 pm

That is rather comical, but hardly unexpected, your delusion that you are the one applying correction.

Posted by H Howard Folsom III on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 2:59 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 4:43 pm

It started getting and narrower and narrower. Don't get crushed!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 5:07 pm

I suppose you could do your laundry in the meantime.

Clearly you have an appetite for tedium.

Posted by H Howard Folsom III on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 5:17 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 5:19 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 5:20 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 4:55 pm

Just trying to fit in around here.

Posted by H Howard Folsom III on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 5:18 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2014 @ 5:19 pm

1) I carry my daugher on my bicycle every day
2) I carry four bags of groceries with my on my bicycle home when I go shopping
3) Irrelevant - I live near everything I want
4) Irrelevent
5) See #1
6) 75% of San Franciscans want more bike lanes. The only one filled with hate is you.
7) I am old, have grey hair and don't wear spandex. I am not white. I have some money from all the dollars I saved not owning a car. Don't hate me because I am rich though. Hate me because I am more successful than you.

You on the other hand are out of shape, filled with hate, have diabetes and high blood pressure and will die early of a heart attack. You wasted all your money on stupid cars in a futile attempt to impress people and all your time stuck in traffic.

Now you a lonely pathetic troll with no life attempting to influence people on a website where no one agrees with you or cares about you.

In short, you are a pathetic loser.


Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 11:21 pm

Stuff White People Like

#61 Bicycles
February 10, 2008 by colander

A good place to find white people on a Saturday is at a Bike Shop. Bike shops are almost entirely staffed and patronized by white people!


actually, #62 is pretty relevant, too:

#62 Knowing what’s best for poor people

White people spend a lot of time of worrying about poor people. It takes up a pretty significant portion of their day.

They feel guilty and sad that poor people shop at Wal*Mart instead of Whole Foods, that they vote Republican instead of Democratic, that they go to Community College/get a job instead of studying art at a University.

It is a poorly guarded secret that, deep down, white people believe if given money and education that all poor people would be EXACTLY like them. In fact, the only reason that poor people make the choices they do is because they have not been given the means to make the right choices and care about the right things.


Posted by racer さ on Mar. 19, 2014 @ 4:06 pm

@racer - Yeah, that's from a dumb list from a tiresome blog for simple minds. Meanwhile, here in reality, a national movement of Black cyclists thrives:

Posted by Jym Dyer on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 10:09 am

cannot be a lot of them.

The last two cyclists I saw riding on the sidewalk were black

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 10:33 am

Plenty of people of color on bikes, always have been.

If you actually looked at that website you'd see that it's about visibility. Possibly for people like you, who can't see what's right in front of you unless it's something you can make a racist remark about.

Posted by Hugo Carranza on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 12:51 pm

Interesting thought. Should they wear more lights?

Most cyclists I see are young white affluent-looking males. Nut then maybe we frequent different neighborhoods. I'd imagine so.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 1:03 pm

No, I'm saying you have trouble seeing things.

Probably because your head is up your ass.

Posted by Hugo Carranza on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 1:36 pm

How unusual for a socialist. Not.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 1:51 pm

most of them are what is considered the color white.

What color is the non color?

Posted by guest on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 5:18 pm

of color, not of the mind.

Posted by guest on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 10:41 pm

Bicycling is far safer that driving in the city?

Why, because you can wear a helmet?

Another example of how the SFBG doesn't need to concern itself with the truth.

We are on a mission!

If it feels good, just say it!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

Jason wrote that one commonality shared by all road users was an unpleasant experience. That the transportation advocacy organizations have bought into the neoliberal development agenda means that they're party to the increase in road users as the economy and population have boomed. More road users in a context where road use is unpleasant means more angered road users. When motorists get angry in gridlocked traffic, it is cyclists and pedestrians who take the hit.

The way to resolve unpleasant road use experiences is to shift the priority from motorists to transit because more motorists will mode shift to transit than bike. But the transportation planning is lagging a decade behind land use planning. Efforts to link the two have been shot down by developers and their compliant claque is not making much of an issue of that. So "livability" boosters add load to a fixed system, worsening the road use experience on one hand and then urge more folks to bicycle under these increasingly unpleasant and dangerous conditions.

I've got ethical issues in urging novices to engage in an increasingly dangerous activity.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 19, 2014 @ 7:39 pm

Like as in SFBC and Walk SF?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 6:57 am

No, I mean claque as in a group of people paid to cheer or boo on command.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 8:10 am

@marcos - A greater number of bicyclists will of course mean a greater number of bicyclists being injured. This is not a 1-to-1 correspondence, though. If you're referring to the numbers reported in the _Chron_ last June, they did a weird comparison of increased bicycling from 2006-2012 with injuries from 2009-2011. A little statistics math and you come up with a 35% increase in ridership over 3 years, compared to the reported 18% increase in injuries.

This fits pretty handily in the range of the power law factor of 0.6 found by Jacobsen, most famously known as "Safety in Numbers." Basically, the more bicyclists you add, the safer it gets per bicyclist, by that factor. Jacobsen also found the same effect with pedestrians.

So if trips by bike or on foot replace trips by car, you're actually safer (and making it safer for others). Of course it's even safer to be inside a bus or train, and of course there are good reasons to promote much better transit than we're experiencing, but "an increasingly dangerous activity" is not one of those reasons. Anything that replaces car trips is an improvement.

Posted by Jym Dyer on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 10:26 am

greatly overstated because no allowance is made for the fact that there are far more pedestrians in SF than another US city of the same size with which we are being compared.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 10:40 am

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