A message from MassBike Board & Staff
All of us at MassBike have been moved and challenged as overwhelmingly peaceful protests against racism have swept our nation's cities. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery, just the most recent among so many black Americans, and the people who are taking to the streets to express their outrage, have once again shown how we as a country are suffering from the unjust and racist power structures in our society. We whole-heartedly stand in solidarity and commitment with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and we affirm ourselves as an organization dedicated to enabling and empowering freedom of safety and movement.
Getting around on a bike often has added layers of complexity and societal dangers for people of color, be it from law enforcement or traffic violence. MassBike recognizes the unacceptable fact that, along with prejudicial police practices, generations of discriminatory housing, urban development, and public transit policies disproportionately hurt minority communities, and that these structures of racism are interconnected. People from Black and Brown neighborhoods have the longest commutes, the highest air pollution and asthma rates, and the least amount of bicycle infrastructure and greenspace. We find this unacceptable, and we must think deeply about how our work challenges systemic racism.
Though the bicycle advocacy space has a reputation as being historically white, and MassBike is a majority-white organization, we strive (and sometimes struggle) to always view our work through the lens of Equity & Inclusion. So many people of color depend on their bicycles for transportation, livelihood, and physical activity to build healthier, more connected lives. MassBike’s mission is to create safer bicycling for everyone, and we need to focus where the inequities and dangers are the strongest. Especially in the major urban centers of Springfield, Worcester, and Boston and the Gateway Cities of Holyoke, Brockton, Lawrence, New Bedford, Lowell and beyond, we see the stark racial inequalities prevalent in people’s ability to access safe and active transportation.
Yet we are bolstered by our partners and allies working to reform racist practices in transportation, public health and safety, and law enforcement. We proudly join, fund, and amplify these efforts taking place in Black and Brown communities, and we at MassBike are actively creating spaces to discuss issues regarding unequal distribution of safe infrastructure, racial profiling, and interactions with police forces across the commonwealth – especially related to youth. MassBike must build ourselves as an organization that harnesses the power of “coalition.” Together, we all can make a difference.
How can those of us with white privilege raise racial awareness to better our communities by serving as allies?
We must lead all our conversations by acknowledging the historical and current-day racism, and ask ourselves how we can help undo racism everyday through our work. As evidenced by the voices taking to the streets, we remain resolute since much work remains to be done.
A few thoughts on how we can join together:
- Educate ourselves on what is happening regarding racial injustice. By exposing ourselves to the information being shared by racial justice organizations, writers, trusted media outlets, social media influencers, and neighbors who we perhaps have yet to familiarize ourselves with, we can learn about the policies that created and maintain racial disparities that have real impacts on our lives, including on everyone's experience of healthy, bike-friendly communities
- Have an internal conversation, reflecting on questions like “How can I participate in changing the status quo?” and “Who is not here?” then taking actions toward promoting equity and inclusion.
- Have conversations with others around us such as friends, family, colleagues, and fellow members of our cycling communities. Listen to those who are directly impacted, and encourage every voice to contribute to this cultural conversation.
- Contact our elected officials and hold them accountable so we can put an end to policies and practices that foster racism.
- Get involved. Donate your money, donate your time, donate your position to amplify those voices combating racial injustice. We can all help advance understanding and support efforts that create safe, healthy, equitable communities.
We see this statement as part of an ongoing dialogue, and we expect to follow with information and discussions to build upon these five points. We invite you to engage with us and share resources that are helping you take action. We have much work to do together.
Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition