What are our reasons to not go by bike?
The Community Cycling Center has helped make bicycles accessible to thousands of people throughout the Portland Metro region since 1994. However, many people still cannot or do not choose bicycles as a way to get around, particularly among low-income communities and communities of color. With generous support from Metro, the Community Cycling Center is seeking to understand the unique cultural and economic barriers to bicycling encountered by minority and low-income community members.
Rex Burkholder, Metro councilor, noted that the project â€œwas singled out – with much praise – for specifically helping minority and low-income residents.â€ He continued, â€œIn my work here, it’s the first grant project that I can recall that has specifically been aimed at addressing social justice issues related to transportation.â€
Susan Remmers, Executive Director of the Community Cycling Center, noted, â€œThe need for the bicycle as an affordable, reliable, clean, and healthy transportation option will continue to grow as the economy sputters, the obesity epidemic grows, the global climate changes, and traffic gets more congested,â€ She added, â€œWe need to be prepared to meet the demand with programs and services that are sensitive to the unique cultural needs of our diverse community. The best way to do that is to develop relationships with people and organizations that are already doing great work and leverage our collective strengths.â€
The project began earlier this spring and will continue through 2011. Understanding the needs of different communities will help determine how bicycling may fit as a way to address the health, safety, and transportation needs across social, cultural, and economic strata. Since February, we have met with more than fifty people representing dozens of organizations to introduce our work and to learn about community issues. We are building relationships with HAP New Columbia, IRCO, and Hacienda CDC and have begun outreach in cooperation with these agencies.
We are learning a lot about the divide between the â€œbicycle communityâ€ and the rest of the community. Our highest hope is that the Understanding Barriers Project helps us to deepen connections with one another and to build a stronger, healthier community â€“ with bicycles.