Blackening The Cycle Scene
A new-on-my-radar “community-building collective” called Red, Bike, & Green is aiming to get more black urban Americans on bikes, and embracing the many benefits that come with that.
From the economic benefits to the personal financial benefits to the mental and physical health benefits, there are many reasons why people in every community should be excited about bicycling. Unfortunately, it’s still a fringe transportation option, one dominated by white males.
Red, Bike, & Green was actually founded in 2007, “as a small group of Black urban cyclists in Oakland, Ca.” However, it didn’t officially launch until 2010. Now, there seem to be chapters in many cities around the country.
Here’s a bit more history on the collective from Isa Hopkins of Grist:
It was 2007, and Burton — a Connecticut native and a graduate of Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, D.C. — had moved to Oakland, drawn to the city’s history, diversity, and activist culture. Although she hadn’t been on a bike since she was 9 years old, Burton was inspired by the cyclists she saw hitting the streets each day, so she decided to join them.
“Being a recent grad, I wasn’t making a whole lot of money. It was nice not to have to worry about gas or car payments,” she says. “In this region, where the culture is already there, I didn’t feel like the oddball riding the bike.”
Among her family and her former college classmates, however, her decision to two-wheel it was seen as, well, different. Even in the bike-friendly Bay Area, a black cyclist was a bit of an aberration. This led Burton to start an all-black cycling group, simply because “I wanted other black people to be just as excited about bike riding as I was.”
For more on the history, read the full Grist piece.
Red, Bike, & Green has a 3-point plan at its essence, which is focused on health, economics, and the environment. From its 3-point plan page:
African Americans have the highest prevalence rates for many chronic diseases, largely due to lack of healthy foods and exercise. Biking is an intergenerational form of recreation where we can improve physical health as well as improve our mental health by enjoying the company of our people.
(1) As African Americans we experience many economic hardships. Riding bicycles instead of driving cars saves us valuable money that we can use towards our present realities and bright futures. (2) Red, Bike and Green promotes the patronage of Black business. Advertising and partnering with Black businesses on our rides is our strategy to support and praise the important services that sustain our community.
African American communities bear the brunt of too many environmental injustices (e.g. asthma due to high prevalence of carcinogens). Biking provides us the power to reduce the carcinogens we produce as we continue advocating against environmental racism at institutional levels.
I hope the collective keeps growing, bringing more people to the many benefits of bicycling.
And I have to say, while the communities are certainly a bit different, this collective reminds me quite a bit of the Real Rydaz, a story about which I’ll repost right here:
This is just a fun, feelgood video that I think anyone can enjoy, but especially any bicycle lovers. While I can’t say I’m inclined to put money into a bike so decked out as these, I think you have to appreciate them. And it’s certainly nice to see the very supportive, loving community that has…