Posts by tom

Cycling and community

It was interesting to contrast the ride I did with folks from the Oakland Library last week, with the Fourth Fridays in the Park event with Rich City Rides. The librarians are using the bicycle to extend the physical community space of the library out into the streets. Rich City used the bicycle to create a community out in the streets, and on Fourth Fridays they bring it back into a physical space. 

Libraries, bikes and programs

Last week I went on an urban geography bike tour, sponsored by the Oakland Museum and led by Mana and Sadie from the Oakland Library. We learned about railroad history in Oakland, and got lucky with lovely weather to visit Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. As a cycling urban geographer, I love that kind of stuff, and I love that people in the Library also see the bicycle as a tool for contemplating the city. I'm curious about how this alignment of the library and cycling programs in Oakland has arisen.

Book cover: Bicycle/Race. Transportation, Culture, & Resistance

Book review: Bicycle/Race

I was enthused to pick up a copy of Adonia Lugo's latest book at the Bike4Justice event at Rich City Rides a couple months ago. I found it fascinating, but it wasn't exactly what I had expected. Titled Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance, with cover art evoking Black power movements, I suppose that I anticipated something overtly political, a critical analysis of power dynamics related to cycling in the U.S. Instead, I found the book to be deeply personal, a memoir of Lugo’s own struggles to find a place for herself in cycling advocacy as a mixed-race woman from auto-centric Orange County. Lugo’s academic work is in ethnography, so it is not surprising that she is skilled at illuminating cultural and social frameworks via her lived experiences. As an ardent follower of Lugo’s work, the book helped me understand her perspectives, and how she arrived at her particular brand of advocacy.

Wide bike path separated from road by metal barrier

Non-cycling culture

I recently visited a friend in Puerto Rico, my first time on the island. I was surprised at just how pervasive car culture is there; public transit is virtually non-existent (there aren't even inter-city buses), as is biking for transport. Our friends own a decent car, and were proud to drive us around the town and to tourist destinations on the coasts. When we'd suggest that we might walk the quarter-mile into town, or wander the streets of Ponce or Isabela, they were genuinely mystified. Why would you do that? We have a car, we can drive you!

Let’s Bike Oakland officially adopted

The new Oakland bike plan was officially adopted by the Oakland City Council last night. I have my critiques, of course, but I also want to give credit where it's due. The plan represents probably the best effort possible in our current planning environment, and it's largely the result of dedicated work by some of the folks involved who pushed back against structures which are not designed to address topics outside of infrastructure. Because of that, there's a lot more in the plan about community programs and equity than would ever have been the case otherwise.

Ella Baker Center open house

I've long admired the work of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and my current pursuits are bringing me more into contact with their work. Executive Director Zachary Norris sits on the Oakland BPAC and on the subcommittee on policing which I'm contributing to, and the Center also supported last week's Bike4Justice ride. They have moved all over Oakland, but recently managed to participate in purchasing a building in Fruitvale which will provide them housing security, and they had an open house event to celebrate. I was glad to get the opportunity to hear Norris talk about his work. Cycling is only a tangential concern for Ella Baker, but there were a number of places where Zachary's remarks intersected with the Bike Lab's work.

Bike4Justice

RB posted a notification about a Bike4Justice ride-out in support of DuJuan Armstrong, a young man who died in custody at Santa Rita courthouse. Juneteenth seemed like a good day for a protest against police oppression, so I wobbled down to Lake Merritt to join in the ride, which was organized by the Urban Peace Movement and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. The gathered group of about 30 riders chanted "Justice for DuJuan" (Armstrong, who died at Santa Rita last year) and "No Justice, No Peace", as we took over intersections around the Alameda County Courthouse.

Cycling and development

Andy Singer (who you may know from his "No Exit" cartoons) today posted on streets.mn about the possibility of re-purposing part of a railroad bridge across the Mississippi to extend the popular Midtown Greenway. For me, this resonated with my take-away from last week’s Mobility4All panel, of how bike infrastructure became associated with gentrification partly because the bike advocacy movement chose to pair infrastructure with economic development to gain political influence.

A day with Rich City: Self-Care Sunday and Mobility4All

I'd been looking forward to this day for six months, since Adonia Lugo had to cancel her talk at Rich City Rides in December. And in the meantime it had gotten even more interesting, because I'd gotten to know a bit more about Doria Robinson, and RB was joining to represent the Scraper Bike Team. I started by heading up for the weekly Self-Care Sundays ride out of Unity Park, where I got to have a number of interesting conversations with Naj, RB, and Phoenix, and then had the opportunity to meet and hear Dr. Lugo and the others at the great Mobility4All panel.

Biking while Black part 2: Racially-biased policing in Richmond, CA

Jesus Barajas suggested to me that Allwyn Brown in Richmond (CA) had done a lot of work to change the culture of RPD. And since I'm going up to Rich City Rides tomorrow, I thought I'd see if I could run some numbers there. Getting good data is hard, but I was able to find some sources. The story is, unfortunately, no more encouraging.

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