In part three of our series about how Portland makes it so you don’t need to be a bad ass to ride a bike, and how that’s a good thing, we take a look at a great community bicycle project.
The Community Cycling Center is a non-profit bicycle empowerment project with the goal of broadening access to biking within its community. They sell used bikes and used parts on the cheap, and they have programs for youth and adults to encourage empowerment through bicycling.
They also have a bike stand and pump sitting on the sidewalk outside the shop. There should be one of these in every neighborhood. I wish SDOT could install them around town as part of the bike rack program or something. After all, purchasing a bike pump is yet another small barrier to bike riding, and the shop’s pump seemed to be pretty popular.
But the CCC is not content with simply being a great neighborhood biking resource. They are also willing to dive into tough questions facing the biking community. Their project Understanding Barriers to Bicycling is an attempt to address the racial disparity among Portland’s bike community and try to figure out what concerns kept people of color and immigrants from picking up a bike. From Bike Portland:
What they learned was eye opening, Graves said. “Affordability is a big barrier. But we also started hearing some deeper cultural, more challenging concerns, like that bicycling is an activity for white people or for Americans.”
Language and class both pose significant barriers. “There’s the conversation about women going into bike shops and being intimidated. Think about being an immigrant. We had conversations with people about where they’d buy a bike and they wouldn’t even think of going into a bike shop, that option would never occur to them.”
Neighborhood bike projects are among my favorite things ever. Bike Works does such wonderful work in Columbia City, it makes you want to dance (or ride a bike!). I wish there could be a CCC or Bike Works in every neighborhood. We need groups that are willing to take a holistic view of bicycles with the courage to confront difficult issues.