Bike women

For a Twitter thread on International Women’s Day, I was reflecting on how many of the people who’ve inspired my work are women. I thought they deserved a more substantial post here, so, here are some shout outs.

BlackSpace Manifesto

Deep listening

Two somewhat related items came across my feed recently which got me thinking about our responsibilities as planners in listening to disadvantaged communities. One is a study about how urban cycling investments “focus on the needs of wealthy riders and neglect lower-income residents and people of color.” The other is the BlackSpace Manifesto, a statement of principles by a group of Black planners and activists.

Three maps, showing non-white population in Oakland along International, MacArthur, and Skyline Boulevards.

MLK Way: Conclusion

The biggest lesson I take from this project is that urban Black communities (and disadvantaged communities in general) have complex challenges, and those of us who care about equity and social justice need to grapple with that complexity. “Gentrification” is a reductive term which avoids meaningful engagement. While all of this is definitely Black History, it’s also White history. Those of us who believe in social justice as a concept, and who have benefitted from racist policies advantaging us and our families, need to learn to participate in social justice as a practice.

Scatter plot, displaying a correlation between increase in White population and increase in income

MLK Way part 9: Summary data

If you prefer charts to maps, here’s the post you’ve been waiting for; aggregate data for all 58 study cities, with bar charts, scatter plots, sums, medians and correlations. Woot! Interestingly, a number of my field work cities show up prominently in the data.

MLK Way part 8: Obligatory bike content

The Bike Lab began as an attempt to investigate the chicken-and-egg question of whether bike lanes led to gentrification, or gentrification led to bike lanes. In the end I found that the more interesting question was why we came to associate bike lanes with gentrification, given that the strongest predictor of urban cycling in the U.S. is being a low-income ethnic minority. But I can’t do a series on neighborhood change without talking about its relationship to cycling rates.

Map showing increase in Hispanic population in San Antonio, by census tract, with northeastern tracts much greater than western tracts

MLK Way part 7: Shifting poverty

To this point I’ve been mentioning only White and Black populations, but the most substantial demographic shifts nationally are among Hispanic populations. There has been a net influx of international Hispanics, and the natural population growth rate is also higher than Whites and Blacks.

As a population, Hispanics are wealthier than Blacks but still far less wealthy than Whites. In many cities, Blacks and Hispanics are now competing for whatever inexpensive housing exists. In these seven study cities, this manifests as an increase in total population, combined with a drop in Black population, a rise in HIspanic population, and a drop in real income.

Map of southeastern Washington DC showing changes in demographic composition from 2000-2017

MLK Way part 6: Development without displacement

The Holy Grail of community economic development is “development without displacement”: reinvestment in decayed neighborhoods which can provide long-time residents with new opportunities, without forcing them from their homes. It’s hard to achieve in a market-driven society, especially one where home ownership rates and household wealth are as wildly disparate as they are here in America. But it’s not impossible; six cities in the study qualify.

MLK Way part 5: Resegregation

On the eve of the Super Bowl, CityLab posted an article about a neighborhood in Atlanta which was destroyed to build the Georgia Dome, which itself was later destroyed to build Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the game was played. It so happens that Atlanta’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive runs right by the stadium. It being Black History Month, I thought I should dig into the history of the place.

Maps showing Oakland census tracts intersected by MLK Drive in 2000 and 2017

MLK Way part 4: Displacement

The Black Panther Party got its start on Oakland’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Way (then named Grove Street). It was partly fear of the Panthers which led the city to make Grove/MLK the boundary where the elevated BART tracks and the 980/24 freeway would be routed. Anyone living there today can tell you that the neighborhood is one of the most rapidly gentrifying areas of Oakland, which is why it shows up in the group of cities where MLK Way is undergoing displacement: a decrease in Black population and an increase in White population coupled with an increase in median income and other markers of socioeconomic change. This is the most common case in the data set, with 15 cities meeting the criteria.

Map displaying Cleveland census tracts intersected by Martin Luther King Drive, by racial composition

MLK Way part 3: Displacement without development

The most obvious failure of policy is in those neighborhoods which are experiencing “displacement without development”: decreases in both population and income. 12 of the cities in the study fit this profile.

Side-by-side maps of 2000 and 2017 Census boundaries, showing slight differences

MLK Way part 2: Caveats about data

I’m going to be throwing a lot of data out there in this series, so I wanted to start with a few caveats about my process, and about data analysis in general.

Accurately describing the social dynamics of the city through data analysis is a persistent challenge, and the geospatial dynamics aren’t much easier to get at. A simple-sounding question like, “how has the proportion of Blacks in this neighborhood changed over time?” runs into all kinds of problems with the definition of terms and the availability of data.

The Whitening of Martin Luther King, Jr. Way (part 1)

As I’ve ridden around doing field work, I’ve noticed that many cities have a Way, or a Boulevard, or a Drive, or a Parkway, named for Martin Luther King, and that those streets are often located in neighborhoods which were predominantly African-American in the 70s and 80s when the dedications were made. Like gentrification itself, the answer is complex. I generated a lot of rich data to analyze, so this post will be the first of several digging into it. But here’s a teaser.

The Bike Hub opens in Richmond

There was a ton of stuff going on in Richmond on Martin Luther King Day. Rich City Rides was opening up the Bike Hub, their satellite repair location on the Richmond Greenway. Nakari led a mural project to decorate the new shed, and Najari also got decorated, with a well-deserved Jefferson Award for community service. There were also other projects going on on the Greenway, as well as up at the North Richmond Farm.

Police stop data maps for Oakland

Here are some maps I’m working on, trying to combine OPD police stop data for bikes and pedestrians with demographic info. It’s not good. In every police beat in Oakland, the majority of pedestrian police stops are of non-whites; in most beats, it’s above 80%. Bike stops are not much better.

BikeStory: Advocacy

I was invited to speak at LuckyDuck Bike Cafe’s “BikeStory: Advocacy” event this past week. There were a total of six speakers. mostly from the traditional bike advocacy world, and a sizable and pretty appreciative crowd. In my preparations for the talk I made some progress on boiling down the concepts of the Bike Lab’s work.

National Household Travel Survey bike/walk data

The 2017 National Household Travel Survey is out! In preparation for my talk next week at Luckyduck Bicycle Cafe, I dug into the data to see if the findings from 2009 hold, and they mostly do. Hispanics have the highest cycling mode share overall, and the data suggest substantial differences in cultural relationships to active transportation modes.

Celebrations of community

I got to do two holiday rides this year, with Rich City Rides and the Scraper Bike Team, and it got me thinking about what it means to celebrate the holidays in that way. Holiday traditions are important to communities, and that both of these community groups have incorporated the bicycle into their own traditions speaks to the way the bicycle has become part of their identities. That will have long-term effects on cycling rates, and therefore health and wellness in those communities. And these kinds of rides can help brake down the barriers which separate East Oakland from Alameda.

Paint the Town

I led another bike ride for Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO), the lead sponsor of the Paint the Town program, which gives groups the opportunity to collaborate on painting an intersection or street. The city waives permit fees and provides a small bit of funding, and the neighbors work together to come up with a design and do the project. It’s a pretty cool program, inspired by City Repair in Portland. I’d done a ride to visit a number of Portland’s projects, and doing a similar ride in Oakland seemed like a fine idea.

Bicycle “Friendly” “Community”

My feed today lit up with friends sharing the news that Oakland has been granted Gold status in the League of American Bicyclists’ “Bicycle Friendly Community” program, which has been a goal of the advocacy movement here for some time. As you might expect, I have an opinion about it.

Further unsolicited advice

Everyone who’s involved in cycling advocacy, especially in places like the Bay Area where advocacy has become powerful, must take the time to read and understand Adonia Lugo’s Unsolicited Advice for Vision Zero, which challenges advocates to think about how their behaviors contribute to the identification of bike infrastructure with whiteness. Conflict amongst advocates over the Telegraph Avenue design in Temescal demonstrates the point.

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