Tag Archives: Social Justice

Promoting Race & Gender Equity in Cycling

On Thursday, March 24th, 2022, Bike Works Executive Director Ed Ewing facilitated a panel of activists and cyclists to discuss different approaches to promoting race & gender equity in cycling and beyond. Panelists Edwin Lindo (Northstar Cycling Club & Estelita’s Library), Roxanne Robles (Friends on Bikes, Feels on Wheels, The Bikery, and Outdoors for All), Lee Lambert (Cascade Bicycle Club), and Ella Dorband (Breakfast Racing Team) shared their experiences as organizers and advocates, and how they work to make different types of cycling more inclusive including racing, touring, bikepacking, adventure riding, and community riding. Check out the recording of the event below.

Meet the Speakers

Ed Ewing: Ed has 31+ years of marketing, project development, strategic planning, and nonprofit leadership experience. He co-founded the Major Taylor Project, a youth cycling initiative focused on creating opportunities for Black and Brown youth in diverse and underserved communities. Ed has cycled competitively since 1983, and still actively races today. He is also a founding member of the Rainier Riders, a cycling club led by Black and Brown riders.

Roxanne Robles: Roxy is a cyclist, urban planner, sewist, and Filipinx food enthusiast living on the ancestral lands of the Duwamish (Seattle, Washington). She started bike touring in 2017 after realizing that bike touring was not that different than hauling 30 pounds of groceries up and down Seattle hills. She organizes with Friends on Bikes, and volunteers with The Bikery & Outdoors for All. Roxy is passionate about supporting new cyclists and spreading her love of bikes and bike touring, and she uses her Capricorn powers for good by planning summer bike trips months in advance. She thinks tarot cards are an essential item on any packing list, and loves to talk about feelings. Her book, An Introduction to Bike Touring will help you get started on your cycling journey!

Ella Dorband – Ella Dorband is, along with founder Mackenna Lees, co-captain of Breakfast RacingA headshot of Ella Dorband, wearing a pink and red racing jersey with the words "Breakfast" on the front Team, a multi-discipline team of 49 WTFNB racers in the Seattle-ish area. She currently races cyclocross, cross country mountain bike, and track. Previously, she was a Lead and then Board Member at The Bikery. In 2023 she and her partner hope to direct their first race, but basically everything about this is TBD. Outside of the bike world, she is a technical project manager and art enthusiast.

Edwin Lindo: Edwin has embarked on the journey to ask and explore the hard questions of Race & Racism within the institutions of Medicine and Law. As faculty at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Edwin has developed curriculum and teaches on Critical Race Theory and Medicine; and is also the Assistant Dean for Social and Health Justice within the Office of Healthcare. His research and scholarship has focused on the history of racialized medicine, race & racism within medicine, social justice and social movements, and decolonized pedagogies for critical education.

Estell (his partner and wife) and Edwin founded and curated Estelita’s Library, a Social Justice Community Library & Bookstore dedicated to the goal of bringing truth and justice to communities through decentralized knowledge and decolonized spaces. Their books cover topics of justice, liberation, identity, race & racism, economic and political theory, and anything else that guides us in understanding our world through a critical lens. You can find them at EstelitasLibrary.com. Estelita’s Library is named after their 4 year old, Estella.

Edwin is also the co-founder of North Star Cycling, the largest BIPOC cycling club on the West Coast — our goal is to bring melanated people and a conscious of justice to cycling. We have built community through Sunday Service rides and Wednesday night rides. Our model is special in that we are hear to provide unconditional embrace of minoritized folks, no matter where they are: never riding a bike to racing in Cat 1 crits. For those that are new, we have a fleet of bikes that folks can borrow for the rides and a clubhouse to encourage community building. In just over 2 years, we have engaged with over 300 folks in rides, community events, and friendships. We’re excited for what the future holds.

Lee Lambert: Lee Lambert is seven months into service as the Executive Director of the Cascade Bicycle Club/Washington Bikes. He joined Cascade after working 15 years in the nonprofit sector advocating for equity in Washington state’s education system. Born and raised in Tacoma, throughout his life, he used a bike for basic transportation, recreation and fitness. Lee sees his role at Cascade as a perfect partnership between his avocation and vocation. He is passionate about making biking accessible for all and a viable alternative to driving a car by ensuring that we have a simple, safe and connected system of bike infrastructure in Washington State. Lee and his wife have two children and enjoy many outdoor activities in their free time.  He is also a proud alumni of WSU and Seattle University.

Black History Month: Reflections from the Saddle

Aaron Yoon, Bike Works Stewardship Manager, February 2022

In the mid 90s I worked on a school tile art project as a young student at North City Elementary school in Shoreline. My creation at the time featured two hands shaking. One black, one white. I’m not sure if I should get any creativity points, but more importantly, this project was inspired by Edwin Pratt, one of Seattle’s prominent civil rights leaders in the 60s who moved with his family to a near all-white Shoreline in 1959. 

Living in Cap Hill and the CD most of my life, I’ve seen the parks and dedications for Edwin Pratt. Although he has been in my mind here and there, I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally followed up with the leader and his legacy since that simple tile art I worked on.

This Black History Month, I wanted to reflect on Edwin’s work with a Sunday afternoon bicycle journey from my apartment in Columbia City back to the Central District, where Pratt was on the frontlines in the fight against redlining and housing discrimination in Seattle

First stop – Pratt Park (20th & Yesler)

A grassy field and tree at Pratt Park, with a bike leaning up against a picnic table.

As Edwin Pratt was a champion in the fight for fair housing practices, I’m reminded that although practices such as redlining and the disgusting racial restrictive covenants in so many King County neighborhoods may have ended, it’s hard not to see the connection and impact so visible today as I ride. 

The sun was out and I was in a reflective mode, so I thought I’d listen to some of my favorite local hip-hop on the way. As I ride up through Judkins Park and roll past the Franz bakery outlet, Draze’s “The Hood Ain’t the Same” (2014) is playing and I’m feeling it.

Draze raps:

“The blocks went naked and the gentrification came,

Garfield, Franklin, rivalries ain’t even the same,

Mark my words, it’s gonna be white boys all on the team,

I don’t reminisce when I drive through this hood I feel pain,

I ain’t proud of these new developments I feel shame…

I guess Kent is the new South End, and the South End is the CD, 

and CD is just a thing of the past…

Used to own our homes, now we’re all renters,

Got folks moving south like birds for the winter,

They asked momma to sell our home she said ‘no’,

But then we had to shake when the property taxes rose”

Next up – Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (14th & Yesler)

I’m enjoying the views dropping down west on Yesler as the Olympics are out and the iconic Smith Tower is straight ahead. As I pass by the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute I realize that I have yet to attend any event in the space. I’m definitely checking the schedule now and I’ll be back.

At the bottom of the hill at the corner 14th & Yesler I roll up at the Urban League’s headquarters located at the historic St. George building built in 1910. Edwin Pratt served as the Executive Director of the Urban League during the 1960’s and housing justice continues to be a core value in their mission today. The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS) has a vision for equity for all and working towards self-sufficiency in all aspects of life. The five areas of focus are advocacy & civic engagement, education, housing, public health, and workforce development.

As the Central District and housing are on my mind, ULMS promotes housing justice through Eviction Prevention, Homeownership services, Financial Empowerment classes, Homeless outreach, and the Urban League Village. I particularly enjoyed looking up the ULMS schedule and seeing such a rich variety of intriguing events such as a youth mental health workshop, job readiness training and BIPOC job fairs, and especially the Future Voters Talent Show. It’s cool to see the Homebuyer Education Classes & Credit Counseling Workshops being offered every month as it encourages me to take some classes too.

It’s rare to find organizations with such a deep and authentic history in Seattle. Thank you Urban League for your work.

Last Stop – 23rd & Union

I swing up 14th and I ride past the King County Youth Detention Center where 50% of the youth are Black, 25% Latinx, and 20% White. I’m like, “We spent a quarter billion dollars on this… damn.” I ride on.

I reach Union, take a right, and get some work in climbing up and over down to 23rd, perhaps the original Ground Zero of gentrification in Seattle. I play only one track on the way there.

Again, Draze speaks to me, this time through Irony On 23rd (2016):

“The greed, the lust, insatiable appetite,

The conscience ear, but the inability to sacrifice…

Are we so gone we can’t practice a little discretion?

There’s nothing to think about, this is not okay,

What the hell are these politicians thinking anyway,

We pay taxes too, 23rd’s all tore up,

Then our businesses fail, I guess the hood is for sale,

The enemy is faceless, and it’s the system that rapes us,

Empty bike lanes, guess the hood needed a facelift…

We was redlining, but now we blackballed out,

So they can sell green, had to paint the flag on the crosswalk for ourself…

How many brothers went to jail on this corner for moving dime bags?

In a week he doing what, a couple hundred grand?…

Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?”

Discrimination then forced Blacks in, discrimination now forces Blacks out. The enemy may be faceless, but the victims, the stories, and the pain is real.

On my back to the South End I roll past Jimi Hendrix Park and the Northwest African American Museum. I see Black, Brown, and Asian youth playing touch football and I’m feeling more inspired. It’s time for a strong ride back and to turn up my tunes a notch.

For my final tracks, I put on my favorite local hip-hop album, “From Slaveships to Spaceships”, released on Juneteenth 2009 by South Seattle MC, Khingz. I bop my head to the beat and listen to the personal stories of perseverance I hear on Prodigal & the title track, From Slaveships to Spaceships. I’m feeling it and I’ll be ready to put in the work on Monday.

Thank you, Edwin Pratt, for your work, your legacy, and providing the inspiration to ride and reflect. 

The Pratt Family: Bettye, Miriam, and Edwin
(Photo courtesy of the Black Heritage Society of Washington State)

Reflections on Bicycle/Race

by Allie Sarfaty
Recycle & Reuse Coordinator
They/them

For Bike Works’ antiracist reading project, I picked Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance by Andonia E. Lugo. The book chronicles Lugo’s journey as a transportation advocate in Los Angeles, interwoven with a coming-of-age tale in Orange County with insights into infrastructure policy and urban planning as a whole. Her story tells a cautionary tale of how white bicycle organizers and advocates reinforce racism and oppression in a world where people of color are not seen as the cycling majority, despite the fact that they are disproportionately affected by transportation policies.

While reading this book, I was pleasantly surprised to see Bike Works mentioned. In 2011, Lugo moved to Seattle and was re-energized by the grassroots programming embedded in our organization’s youth Earn-a-Bike and Volunteer Repair Parties. While reflecting on this reading, I thought a lot about how I engage with my community as a white person working in rapidly gentrifying south Seattle, and what it means to be a part of an organization grounded in providing services and resources to people of color. Going forward, I want to continue engaging with my community in meaningful ways in and outside of my job, actively work on improving my own anti-racist practices, and holding myself accountable to undoing white supremacy in the ways that I can.

Interested in what other antiracist books Bike Works staff are reading? Check out the full blog post here.

Equity Reading List

Our shop, warehouse, and programs are currently on hold in order to keep our community as safe and healthy as possible during this time of social distancing. Despite being temporarily closed to the public, the Bike Works staff are still working – building bikes, writing curriculum, investigating new ways to provide products and services, and planning for the future.

Since last fall, our staff, Board of Directors, Youth Advisory Committee, and Racial Equity Task Force have been working with facilitators from Beloved Community to draft our next strategic plan to take us from 2021 – 2025 (check out our 2017 – 2020 Strategic Plan on our website here). Beloved Community is a non-profit consulting firm focused on implementing regional, sustainable solutions for diversity, equity, and inclusion. In order to keep up the momentum around this work, and to increase our collective learning, we are all reading a book about race, racism, and/or equity.

Here are the books we are reading – let us know if you’ve got additional recommendations or favorites from this list!

Did You Know? Biking Black History

Blog: Bike Underground Railroad Sign

[Image Description: An official plaque in the foreground reads, “A Gateway to Freedom. Many freedom-seekers coming through New Albany achieved their goal, traveling as far north as Canada. The Underground Railroad refers to a widespread network of diverse people in the nineteenth century who aided slaves escaping to freedom from the southern U.S.” In the background, a blurred bicycle rider in red rides down a paved street.]

Did you know there is a bicycle route that travels along the Underground Railroad – from Mobile, Alabama to Owen Sound, Ontario? The Adventure Cycling Association and the Center for Minority Health from Pittsburgh, PA partnered to develop this 2,100 mile route which uses the historic “Follow the Drinking Gourd” spiritual as a guide through America’s past and as an inspiration for cultural exploration and physical well-being.

#BlackHistoryMonth

For more information check out:

 

Paving the Way: Black Women Bicycling

Marylou Jackson, Velma Jackson, Ethyl Miller, Leolya Nelson and Constance White. In 1928, these 5 African American women rode 250 miles – from New York City to Washington, DC – in just 3 days! What inspired this journey? Simply the joy of bicycling!

History doesn’t tell us much about their adventure. Once in Washington, DC they went sightseeing and paused to take this photo for a local newspaper.

Historian Marya McQuirter shares what she learned while researching the social history of blacks in D.C. during the first half of the 20th century for her dissertation on an episode of the Bicycle Story. We do know that one rider worked at the Harlem YWCA and another at the Sargent School of Physical Training. It seems very likely that they were in the forefront of promoting women and bicycling access. Thank you for helping to pave the way!

Listen Now

#BlackHistoryMonth

Check out some of these great organizations who ride together for simply the joy of bicycling!