The media routinely refers to a person riding a bike as a “cyclist”, especially when there’s a police report as a result of a crash. It is often unintentional on the part of the journalist, but that’s not an excuse. It’s a dehumanization of the person, taking the onus off the driver in a crash. The auto industry has deliberately co-opted our language to devalue people who ride bikes as “cyclists” and the same goes for people walking, labeling them “pedestrians”.
We need to change our perception of who a person riding a bike is, who a Black person riding a bike is, who “owns’ the sport, and we need to change our language….and that’s just a start.
The author of this article, Tamika Butler makes a point that she’s a person, as opposed to a “cyclist”. A Black person, a genderqueer person, a mom. “A person who—particularly when the world seems to be falling apart—needs to bike to feel sane, balanced, and healthy.”
Tamika participated in a panel: Bicycling At The Intersections, with a group comprised of Black trans, femme, women, and non-binary cyclists who collectively shared their experiences of race and identity within the sport, and breaking through white supremacy.
“Bikes Are an Expression of Black Joy. Here’s How 5 Riders Break Through White Supremacy”.
“WE’RE HAVING TO PUSH WHITE PEOPLE’S IMAGINATION OF WHAT WE ARE, AND WHAT WE CAN BE.”
THE WORD HAS EVOLVED TO EXCLUDE SO MANY PEOPLE LIKE ME.
I have always thought of myself as “a person who bikes.” More than that, a person who loves to bike. A person who—particularly when the world seems to be falling apart—needs to bike to feel sane, balanced, and healthy. As a mom who is also a genderqueer, Black woman from the Midwest, there are lots of identities I use to describe myself—and plenty of words other people use to describe me. But “cyclist” has never been one of them.I am not skinny. I am not white.
I am not straight. I am not a man. Just Google the term and see that the central casting version of “cyclist” seems to check most or all of these boxes. I have never checked those boxes.
Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition has focused on making the city safer for everyone – streets that are safe for anyone “8 to 80″, in other words, for the most vulnerable. We have worked with the City Transportation Manager and gotten input from the community to create a Plan For Walking And Biking, an evolving plan, which now during the pandemic is adapting to include open streets and other methods of making streets more open to people walking and using micro-mobility, and less accommodating to cars. Cars should be guests in cities, not OWN cities.
Traffic must be slowed, and every effort needs to be made to reduce the need to drive, especially during the pandemic, when people are in need of safe spaces to be able to spend time outdoors for exercise, shopping, and dining.
We are intent upon creating a safe, healthy, and environmentally equitable city, not divided by city streets teeming with traffic.
In cities all over the US, “transportation issues negatively affect people of color” . Highways and roads that cut through, or over, Black, Latino, and immigrant neighborhoods.” Asbury Park’s Memorial Drive, train tracks, and our own Main Street have served to bisect the city into the east and west sides, and maintained the inequity of a city with a history of two faces. But now Main Street is currently nearing the end of a years long DOT reconfiguration, calming traffic and allowing people to walk and ride bikes for transportation and recreation, and a safer Memorial Drive is on the horizon.
Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition is committed to helping to build infrastructure that enables everyone to safely access the city on foot, a wheelchair, or on a bike or scooter, throughout this time of COVID, and beyond.
The pandemic has led to an unexpected positive—people reclaiming streets in ways that have made urban America more bikeable, walkable, and enjoyable. Preserving that will take work, but it’s worth it.
“It’s callous to call a global pandemic an opportunity, but the crisis has altered our view of public spaces in ways no other event could. In Denver, which closed several streets to through traffic, that wouldn’t have happened without a catalyst. “If we had tried to roll this out pre-pandemic, we would have been met with opposition,” says Eulois Cleckley, executive director of the city’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. “But the situation people were placed in changed their perspective overnight.””
“For walking, cycling, and so-called micromobility options like scooters to really function as everyday transportation choices for more than just hardcore commuters…there has to be a safe route from anywhere in a city to anywhere else.”
City streets should always be safe for everyone riding bikes or walking. Asbury Park is not alone among municipalities in NJ working on ways to #slowthecars and reduce reliance on automobiles on city streets.
The Asbury Park Slow Roll, November 14th, 2020
The monthly Slow Roll was a pleasure as usual, spending time with others cruising around Asbury Park on bikes. We noted the bike and walk infrastructure appearing in the city, but as usual we also experienced impatient drivers, and a close pass as we navigated Main Street. It underscored the ongoing need for more and better infrastructure to make streets safe for people walking and biking, to slow and calm traffic #20isplenty, and the need for reduced the use of automotive vehicles in our small city.
According to NJ Bike Law, bicyclists may use the full lane, and are not required to ride in the bike lane. Bike riders are more visible riding in the lane, but often rightfully feel frightened and vulnerable among motor vehicles. Paint doesn’t protect, and these striped lanes are within the space where a driver door will open, either hitting the person on the bike or forcing the bike rider into traffic. Whenever possible “take the lane” if you are a bike rider, and if you are a driver please be aware that bike riders are permitted to do so.
Visibility is of utmost importance (contact us to get bright bike lights!). Science has proven that drivers are most likely to see other vehicles, but too often completely unable to see people walking or biking.
This is the way city streets should look all the time. Let’s keep working on safe streets for everyone, especially the most vulnerable in Asbury Park.
Today is World Day Of Remembrance For Road Traffic Victims, and we hope that you will sign & share this pledge for a NJ where no one dies on the roads: tinyurl.com/visionzeronj
World Day Of Remembrance For Road Traffic Victims
Slow Roll Bike Ride Saturday, Nov.14th at 1pm.
In honor of World Day of Remembrance For Road Traffic Victims – Asbury Park Slow is Roll Saturday, November 14th Meet at The Carousel at 1pm for about an hour cruise around the city. We encourage a bright, white flashing light on the front, and red flashing light on the back of bikes. Cars have daytime running lights. So should bicycles. Until all bikes come equipped with lights we have to buy them – or message us if you’re unable to get lights and we’ll hook you up. 👍🏻🚲🌠🎇
Please join the FB Live Event on Nov. 15th at 11am (link below) and consider a donation to NJ Bike & Walk Coalition,which works tirelessly to make streets and safe for everyone, especially the most vulnerable. NJBWC has been incredibly helpful to Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition.