Social Equity Needs
Social equity is a critical issue for increasing bicycling because so many potential new riders simply don’t see bicycling as something they’d want to or even could do. Some of this is caused by promotions showing rich white people flying off cliffs on bikes that would cost a low-income worker half a year’s wages. But often the causes are much more subtle. Access to bikes and bike shops is a major factor. Another is that people who show up for bicycle and pedestrian gatherings, whether for fun or for urgent advocacy, represent only a fraction of the populations (i.e., cultures, income levels, ages and abilities) who will eventually benefit from improved bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.
Also, bicycling efforts often benefit mostly white, affluent and able bodied people because these are usually the people who have the time and money to campaign for bicycle improvements. But this is certainly not a cross section of the world’s population and certainly not the population that needs these accommodations the most! So bicycle initiatives are often not seen as pertinent to diverse groups of people.
Transportation equity is another way of looking at this issue because too often motorized vehicles are set out as the most important mode, gradually diminishing the respect of each mode perceived to be below it – transit, then bicycle and finally pedestrian. This article on civil rights and transportation equity offers clear, yet highly disturbing outcomes of this imbalance.
This hierarchy has been shown to have detrimental effects not only on efforts to get people to shift trips from car to bicycling and walking, but even to undermine the health benefits of these modes. Please read this paper, “The Bicycle Vehicle to Health and Social Equality” on the status syndrome in our transportation systems for a closer look at this disturbing issue.
Also take a look at this report from 2013 about the changing demographics of cyclists: The New Majority.
This report from the Community Cycling Center in Portland, Oregon outlines their efforts to bring more social equity to their bicycle programs: Understanding Barriers to Bicycling.
These are only a few of the factors that have led to the inequity of our bicycle transportation and recreation offerings. Social equity is a primary part of One Street’s mission and we look forward to working to solve these issues as we move forward.