Posts by tom

Rally for Naj

I was glad to hear this week that the charges against Naj K. Smith for playing loud music from his bike were dismissed, thanks to the outcry from the community and the pro-bono work of Walter Riley. So the rally planned for today to protest his court date instead turned into a rally to discuss racial policing. Speakers included Naj himself, as well as Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan (who also wrote a letter in support of Naj), and several folks from Red, Bike and Green, the organization Naj was leading the ride for when he got arrested. The general theme was that even though this particular case has been resolved, the structural problem of racially-biased policing remains.

Two steps forward…

I think that the Oakland DOT is doing a good job of trying to address social justice issues in its community engagement process for the bike plan update, but some of the other bike planning efforts going on in Oakland highlight how difficult it is to keep focused on those issues.  One example was a workshop in Fruitvale about a proposal to redesign and pedestrianize East 12th Street near the Fruitvale BART station, and another was a community open house about updates to Telegraph Avenue in Temescal. Both were focused on infrastructure and lacked opportunities for meaningful input from the community.

Biased policing of cyclists

Two of my recent bike-related experiences came together this weekend, when Naj K. Smith of Rich City Rides (who I met leading a ride last week) got arrested in Oakland for leading a ride on First Fridays with his sound system trailer. The bike and sound system were confiscated, and he was handcuffed and spent the night in jail. He made bail but the bike is still impounded.

Rich City Rides

I was going to go check out the new Dirt World bike park up in Richmond, but on my way there, I was fortunate enough to run into a group of cyclists with a sound system blasting a Jackson 5 remix. This turned out to be the weekly "Self-Care Sunday" social ride from Rich City Rides, and they were on their way to the Berkeley Kite Festival. I altered my plans to join them on the ride through town and along the Ohlone Greenway.

Oakland Bike Plan process

Oakland is working on updating its Bicycle Master Plan. Since the last update in 2007, a lot has changed in Oakland, but I think the two most important changes affecting this plan aren't related to cyclists or even cycling infrastructure. What's really different is that Oakland has consolidated various different agencies into a new Department of Transportation, and also created a new Department of Race and Equity. The structural changes have led to a very different (and better) community engagement process for the new bike plan.

Oakland Equity Indicators

In 2016, Oakland created a new Department of Race and Equity, charged with creating "a city where our diversity is maintained, racial disparities have been eliminated and racial equity has been achieved." In Oakland, that's a big ask. But the creation of the office is, I think, an honest attempt to look for ways to improve the situation. The department has just released its first Equity Indicators Report, and as you might expect, Oakland fails on a number of important indicators related to equity.

Oakland Rideout

Heading out for a fun ride yesterday, I ran into the Oakland Rideout at Oakland Technical High. Sponsored by Marshawn Lynch, this was a super-social ride from his Beast Mode store downtown, up to my neighborhood. The event included a beautiful demonstration of the transformation of public space, as a sideshow of BMX and motocross bikes, and Lime scooters took over Broadway.

Bike share and the public interest

One of the topics at the Oakland BPAC was an update on bike share progress. As part of the 2017 East Bay roll-out, Motivate created a "Bike Share 4 All" program which allows low-income individuals to obtain an annual bike share membership for $5 (instead of the regular cost of $150). But Motivate has refused to place bike share stations in Deep East, despite using the Scraper Bike Team's style as marketing for their service. The exclusive rights we granted Motivate are a give-away of public space to private interest.

Bike to Work Day

Bike to Work Day began in Oakland 25 years ago. I've always been a bit ambivalent about it, partly because I feel like bike advocacy in the U.S. tends to frame cycling as a distinct activity, and I think it would be more productive to frame it as a common activity that everyone should be able to do all the time. This year, my wife was volunteering at the pancake breakfast at Oakland City Hall, so I decided to join the pedal pool led by Mayor Libby Schaaf and Council member Abel Guillen.

Shout-out from Streetsblog

Roger Rudick of Streetsblog SF was among about 25 people who joined me on the Oakland Flatlands bike tour this weekend, and he wrote up a good summary. The short version is, we had a good group, lots of good discussion, got finished before the rain started, and I think everyone got to learn some new stuff.

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