On a rainy day, dozens of bicyclists are standing in one lane of a two-lane commercial street. In the foreground are several people standing with their bikes, wearing yellow safety vests, facing the crowd. One of them has a flag attached to the bike reading, "Cease Fire Now."

The tool you have

The Bike Lab’s premise is that the bicycle can be a tool to understand and fight structural injustice. Bike riders everywhere share the same experience of freedom and mobility, and that shared experience can break down barriers and create new connections across communities. The Gaza Sunbirds sponsored a global solidarity ride in support of aid to Palestine, which created controversy in the East Bay bike community.

Getting it backwards

I had the privilege to accompany Backwards Brian to the Climate Ride Green Fondo. I talked with some of the organizers about their decision to allow him to join after hearing about what happened with AIDS LIfeCycle. To Climate Ride's credit, they were willing to sit with the discomfort for a while, and eventually let Brian do his thing. Can we foster that kind of inclusion throughout the bike world? I'm pretty sure we'd all benefit.

On the Waterfront

I got into a good rant at Oakland BPAC this month, on the topic Transforming Oakland’s Waterfront Neighborhoods (TOWN) project, the city’s attempt to give away millions of dollars in support of the cynical and extractive effort to let a billionaire (A’s owner John Fisher) enrich himself by building 3,000 luxury condos at Howard Terminal. I got annoyed, because the project ignores the East Oakland waterfront neighborhoods which really need infrastructure, but also because it looks like a bad idea on its own merits.

Map of Oakland showing the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Communities of Concern. Deep East Oakland and parts of downtown and West Oakland are mostly dark purple (Highest concern). A few areas in Deep East, and much of Fruitvale is lighter purple (Higher concern). Most of the rest of the flatlands are light purple (High concern). The hills are uncolored (Low concern).


Public-private partnerships require compromises. Compromises on terms are natural in such negotiations, but I am concerned with compromises on principles. There are two ways cities compromise their principles in public-private partnerships: bullshit requirements, and bullshit enforcement.

Group of 20 cyclists riding at night on wide road, with center lane painted orange with colorful wheel graphics. The cyclists are taking the right and center lanes. Lights of cars are seen both approaching and going away.

Scraper Bike Halloween ride

I got to spend Halloween with the Original Scraper Bike Team, and it reminded me of why I enjoy riding with them and supporting them, and also, why it's important.

Racially-biased policing in Oakland (updated with 2019 data)

The Oakland Police Department is legally required to provide racial data on police stops. But they're not required to make it easy. But they finally released their report. We don't have detailed public data on where the stops are occurring, only the police beat. I did some hacky stuff to estimate the racial composition of each police beat using Census data, and tested whether the stops were proportional to the racial makeup. As you might guess, the answer is "no." In 2019, the problem was marginally better, but it's still a problem.

Collection of Chicago (North Lawndale) maps

Collection of Chicago (North Lawndale) maps

I’m working on a series of maps of Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood. I’m just going to drop a bunch of...

Map of Chicago, showing Burgess' concentric-circle zone model on top of the FHA redlining map for Chicago. Nearly all of zone 2 (zone in transition) and zone 3 (zone of workingmen's homes) were redlined. Zone 4 (residential zone) is mostly yellow, and zone 5 (commuters zone) is mostly green and blue.

Burgess concentric circle map in GIS

I'm going to be doing some mapping for a project from Equiticity, and one of the themes will be historical spatial inequities in Chicago. This got me thinking about the highly influential concentric-circle city development map drawn by Ernest Burgess (Chicago School of Urban Sociology) in 1925. Surprisingly I couldn't find a usable GIS representation of his drawing. So I decided to work on my georectifying skills and put one together. You can see how Burgess' racist ideas led directly to racist housing policies.

Map of Los Angeles County census tracts, colored by percentage of Black population, overlain with Metro Bike Share system coverage.

Assumption of equity

I see advocates assume that the projects that they advocate for will address issues of historical inequities. A thread on distributing bikes in LA led me to investigate whether LA Metro bike share is equitably distributed. Bike share does not reach the Black areas of the city at all; in fact, there's not a single bike share station located in a census tract that is even 25% Black.

Map of Oakland with existing, pending, and proposed Slow Streets highlighted. Four streets are marked as "Completed April 11", four more are "Pending Installation April 17", and approximately 20 more scatters around the city are "Other Streets to be Evaluated"

As I was saying…

I'd been working on my post about disproportionate impact since before COVID-19 hit the Bay Area, but it happened to land in the middle of a broad conversation about the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on poor and working-class BIPOC, and the opening of Oakland's opportunistic Slow Streets program, which streets advocates across the country are now demanding their cities emulate. Last night Oakland held its weekly COVID-19 town hall; the segment led by Warren Logan, Libby Schaaf's Director of Mobility and Interagency Relations, really made the point about how we're equity-washing streets programs.

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