We’re kicking off our annual Biketober challenge – it is a great way to get out, get active and find community. However, access to safe cycling infrastructure, bike supplies and facilities are vital to encouraging greater participation and improving the overall well-being of our community.
According to a study conducted by the Sierra Club and League of American Bicyclists, Black and Hispanic cyclists have disproportionately higher fatality rates as compared to white cyclists, at 23% and 30% higher, respectively. This is due, in part, to a lack of safe cycling infrastructure in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods across the country. In the study, 26% of people of color reported that they want to ride more but worry about safety, as compared to just 19% of white people. Moreover, 71% of people of color agree that safer cycling would improve their community, as interest in cycling persists despite infrastructure challenges. A 2012 Princeton study reported that 86% of people of color have a positive view of cyclists, compared to 82% of white people. Overall, people of color vote for improved cycling and walking infrastructure at higher rates than their white counterparts.
Even though cycling is still a white-dominated arena, Black, Hispanic and Asian populations are the fastest growing cyclist groups across the country. To continue to encourage participation in cycling, there must be equitable access to bike facilities. A study from Portland, Oregon found that 60% of people of color said that greater access to bike facilities would encourage them to ride more.
Radical Adventure Riders Make Space
With clear interest in cycling but disparities in access to facilities and infrastructure, communities of color need additional cycling support. And even for those that do have access to resources and infrastructure, finding a cycling community that understands and celebrates a range of intersectional identities can be difficult.
The Radical Adventure Riders (RAR) have set out to forge a more inclusive experience in the cycling world by carving out a space for people of color and the queer and non-binary community. RAR seeks to push back against the traditional competitive nature of cycling culture and to create a space that is welcoming, inclusive and safe by developing confidence among riders. In particular, RAR serves as a reclamation of the streets, which have long been unsafe for the communities it serves.
Devin Cowens, Chapter Lead at RAR Atlanta, spoke with us about the opportunities that RAR creates for the Atlanta community. They offer skill sharing classes, monthly rides, happy hours and bike camping trips that center around BIPOC and queer folks to build community and promote collective well-being. Devin says that enjoying nature through cycling is a way for her to experience joy and healing. Through RAR ATL, she strives to create these same opportunities for others to experience the restorative and joyful aspects of cycling.
In addition to their community-building events, RAR ATL is launching a Bike Gear Library on October 25, 2021, spearheaded by Devin and with support from Sarah Cruz and Hannah Griggs (RAR ATL leadership team members), that allows members of the community to participate in RAR ATL events without having to purchase the items themselves. The Gear Library hopes to lend everything from bikes to camping equipment but is currently focused on supplying camping gear and bike bags. Items available in the library are sourced from grants and from donations from the community. They are currently collecting items like compact tents, sleeping bags and helmets.
Other Community Opportunities
MARTA recently launched another cycling initiative to build more diverse bike ridership around the metro Atlanta area. Working in partnership with Bearings Bike Works and the Sopo Bicycle Cooperative, MARTA is working to donate bicycles that are abandoned on MARTA property to underserved populations, including unhoused populations, including unhoused LGBTQ+ youth, and refugees.
If you are interested in contributing financially to the RAR ATL Bike Gear Library, you can do so via Paypal. If you’d like to donate your new or gently used items, you can email RARATLgearlibrary@gmail.com.
Find your community this Biketober!
- Register at Biketober.com
- Log your rides
- Win prizes!