The Chainlink

Worth a careful read. Tamika Butler talks about the same issues that we see in Chicago. The lack of infrastructure and bike share (Divvy, etc.) is one part of it but then there's the targeted campaign by police. The Chicago police target black bike riders forced to ride on sidewalks for their own safety i.e. no bike lanes. The Chicago police ticket them for riding on the sidewalks and then use it to try to arrest them for something else. It is long overdue we take a hard look at the systemic racism in biking. 

Chicago Tribune:

Police say the citations are in the interests of public safety. African-American bike advocates say the higher number of tickets in some South and West side areas could be caused in part by the lack of bike infrastructure like protected bike lanes, leading cyclists to take to the sidewalk to avoid traffic on busy streets.

But some bike advocates and an elected official expressed concern that police may be unfairly targeting cyclists in black communities while going easier on law-breaking cyclists in white areas. Blacks, Latinos and whites each make up about a third of the city's residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Bicycling Magazine:


As a Black person in this country, I could never have talked about bikes without also talking about race. That hasn’t changed. As the world is being ravaged by not one, but two deadly diseases—the coronavirus and anti-Black racism—that are taking Black lives and making it nearly impossible for my people to breathe, the racial inequities I was compelled to speak on then are still present. To truly make transformational change for all people who bike, we must go beyond a “Bike Month” or an occasional unity ride. We also must get beyond the narrative that only people who (too often self-righteously) make a lifestyle decision to bike are worthy of our targeted marketing campaigns, advocacy, and celebration. We must get past a strategy that assumes cisgender white maleness as the norm. We must get past an ethos of exclusion. Once we can get past these things as a bicycle community, we can finally celebrate what bicycling should truly be about—the power to be free and move freely.

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Glad you took a look and responded. He does tend to pontificate rather profusely.

 Fair points all around regarding Rivendell. Would be good for them to work harder to expand their design sense and leadership for the whole population, not just white men (like me).

At the same time, promising to have the dialogue. Some are not and I do deeply appreciate when someone takes that first step to call out the need for improvement. 

Side note: I owned a Riv Betty Foy. I adored that bike but it hurt to ride it because I have a classic long legs, shorter arms geometry for a woman. I eventually had to sell that beautiful bike because after many attempts to adjust it, I could not make it work.

Good points, but what exactly is a bike designed for a white person?

David, what specifically are you referring to when you say "white person"? Please quote it.

In your earlier comment (bottom of p.2), you wrote,

"Their bikes are specifically for white males at a price point (and geometry) for who can afford a very nice expensive bike."

Everything about this and the rest of your comment was easy to understand - certainly bicycle geometry designed primarily around mens' bodies is - but I don't know what you might mean by a bike designed for a white male (as opposed to a male). And by "white" I'm referring to whatever you meant it as. 

So there are a couple of reasons why I specifically said "white" and "males". I think you are pretty clear on the male reasoning but have questioned my call out to "white". 

Check out their blog posts, Instagram, photos - while there are a few POC sprinkled in, the message Riv puts out in photography is that 90+% of ridership is white male. This is not just a Riv problem, this is an industry problem, a problem in racing bikes, a problem in bike advocacy. It comes across in photography, messaging, hiring practices, and price point for entry. 

One must have quite a bit of money to buy a Riv. That is another barrier. These aren't bikes for everyone. They are at an elite price point. Sadly, when you look at the income inequality in this country, that too makes them mostly for white men. 

Now look at their hiring practices and the leadership. All white males. This has an impact as well. They have one POV. I found that problematic when their one "female" bike, Betty Foy had a male geometry because a man was in charge of it. That seemed crazy to me and when I tried to explain I was disappointed with the fit, they were nothing but confused and frankly, seemed a bit put off that anyone would question the fit of the bike. It was not a positive buying experience. There was also some mansplaining that involved stories about how their girlfriends/wives really didn't like handlebars with drops. They were not remotely open to listening to me and when they shipped my Betty Foy, they sent me what I can only describe as a ridiculously-sized pair or drops that were huge as if to say, oh, you want drops, ok, we'll give you ones that couldn't possibly work. My back hurt when I did a 30-40 mile ride, all excited to take the bike out. So every time I changed the handlebars to try to fix the bike geometry, I had to pay for that change. It cost me hundreds of dollars to prove-out the bike didn't fit. They don't take them back. So I took a bath and sold the bike. I learned my valuable lesson, don't buy a Riv.

Thank you for explaining your thoughts - I understand them better.

One could argue that every god-damn bike is "designed for a white person", but I am not going to unpack that one! In an act of privilege, I choose to ride right now instead. Ta-ta and check ya later.

US bike advocates, who have historically been mostly white and male, typically look at NL and DK and push infra to make the US more like them.  But perhaps the history of racism in the US makes this impossible.  Perhaps bicycling for transportation is just something that cannot become popular in the US.

Re-reading an old article about bike lanes in Johannesburg, South Africa, I felt it could just as easily have been written about the politics of bike infra in most US cities.


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