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NYC safe streets organization: We Stand with Black Lives Matter

192783_212276612116853_4237559_oEver since the election of Donald Trump, we’ve been asking what this means for safe streets organizations. The need for groups to recognize the obvious intersections of safe, healthy streets and social justice is nothing new, but threats and rhetoric by President-elect Trump and some of his closest advisors dramatically ups the urgency.

We already reported on a statement by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Director Cathy Tuttle. In this vein, a recent statement by New York City’s Transportation Alternatives — one of the nation’s largest organizations working for safe streets — seems like an important entry in the conversation.

TA and many other biking and safe streets organizations were already headed in this direction thanks to leadership by people across the nation working for transportation justice. Their statement followed a national meeting in Atlanta called the Untokening Conference, but Trump’s election seems to have been a catalyst.

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From TA:

Typically, when Transportation Alternatives speaks out, it is to ask the people of New York City to add their voices to the conversation about a new protected bike lane or a law against speeding. This time we need to talk about the violence endured by Black New Yorkers.

In this moment of national uncertainty, it is more important than ever for our community to begin a conversation about the intersection of racial justice and traffic justice.

The facts are undeniable: People of color are disproportionately harmed by traffic violence. Research has shown that drivers are less likely to yield to pedestrians of color. African Americans are more likely to be killed in traffic.

At the same time, African Americans are significantly more likely to be stopped, ticketed, and searched than white drivers. It seems like every other day we hear news of a Black woman, man or child unjustly killed in yet another police-involved shooting. All too often, these tragedies begin with a traffic stop. Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Terence Crutcher, and too many others have been killed in the aftermath of “traffic safety.”

Transportation Alternatives stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Because we fight to protect New Yorkers in every community, our fight for Vision Zero must also be a fight against institutional, individual and implicit racism.

The post goes on to outline specific principles the organization intends to follow, including:

  • We Fight for Unbiased Automated Enforcement
  • We Oppose Discriminatory Enforcement
  • We Fight for Transportation Justice and Equity
  • We Respect Local Knowledge and Leadership
  • We Fight for Restorative Justice

The pushback on taking stances like voicing support for Black Lives Matter or treading into other social justice work tends to go something like, “Focus on biking and walking.” “This is mission creep.” “You’re going to turn off possible support.” You can see these arguments at work in the comments on TA’s Facebook post. Depressingly, there may be some political reality behind this pushback, especially in the majority of states where Republicans hold some or all of governmental leadership (including Washington).

On the other hand, black lives do matter. And failing to see the goals of social justice as your own is itself an immediate and major failure. It takes a lot of privilege to be able to work in issues of public space or traffic enforcement and not address racially biased policing or the disproportionate number of traffic deaths among black people.

Read their whole statement.

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11 responses to “NYC safe streets organization: We Stand with Black Lives Matter”

  1. Andres Salomon

    It’s quite simple. Safe, healthy streets means that it’s safe to walk, bike, and even drive. If you’re at risk from traffic collisions, it’s not safe. We need to fix that.

    At the same time, if you’re at risk from police departments, it’s not safe. If you’re at risk from hate crimes, it’s not safe. If you’re at risk from crime in general, it’s not safe.

    We need to fix ALL of that; we can’t just wash our hands of it and say that it’s someone else’s problem.

  2. (Another) Tom

    “Focus on biking and walking.”
    “This is mission creep.”
    “You’re going to turn off possible support.”

    Depressingly, there IS political reality behind this pushback, especially in the majority of states where Republicans hold some or all of governmental leadership (including Washington.)

    Yep, you summed it up nicely. Almost sounds like the punchline to an unfunny joke about how to get belligerent drivers to hate cyclists more.

    1. That may be the political reality if the goal is simply getting more bike lanes built. But if the goal is expanding the public realm and people’s practical freedom to use it, other impediments loom large.

      In my childhood it wasn’t just the bike path near my house that gave me the freedom to travel. It was also that I could trust the people I encountered along the way, including the police (it isn’t just non-white drivers that face differential enforcement, of course). It was also that highway planners mostly went around our neighborhoods, not through them (I lived within a couple miles of two or three of the ten most dangerous intersections in the state, but I never had to cross them to meet my friends in town). We owe all the people these things, and we’re way behind, much farther behind for some people than others. If there’s one statement in America today that has the urgency and moral standing of “Stop the Kindermord” (sic?) it’s “Black Lives Matter”.

  3. Tim F

    Mobility and land-use choices are fundamental to any livable future for this society and world. I do find that bicycling is one of the few things I can relate to with many of my red-state relatives. Ciclovia, urban trail construction, bike tourism, bike share (and even freeway removal) are making perhaps small but cost-effective contributions in Milwaukee neighborhoods that have been neglected by the state. It’s been a teachable moment for budget-hawk acquaintances when I’ve been able to point out the costs of a double-deck freeway expansion compared to urban mobility options. For blue-state city dwellers like myself, it is humbling to note how failures of zoning and highway placement
    and design are present here as much as anywhere.

    I think about how much effort went into suppressing skate-boarders (tactical urbanist experts) until cities decided to start building skate parks. Cathy Tuttle asked whether the use of bike lane barriers as seating serves a positive double purpose, and could it be done even better. I’ve been trying to educate myself more on this, and the Transportation Alternatives principles do look well thought out. It will take conscious effort to live by them and to apply them. This should not be a simple matter of choosing sides, but rather how to solve problems in ways that make us a better society and show us that we live in a bigger world.

  4. Conscience of a Conservative

    focus on transportation. you’re straying form your mission and getting involved in topics you clearly don’t understand. in case you weren’t aware black lives matter has an anti-semitic platform. i will never donate or support your organization ever again. thank you.

    1. William

      Well have you supported Seattle Bike Blog in the past?

      1. Anthony

        I have, and I find this last minute deluded mission of a so-called bike blog to delve into other social aspects a complete and wholesale waste of time.

        Yeesh, so the Democrats lost the election and now we have the town crier suddenly pop up and warn us the skies are falling, life itself is under siege and we have to IMMINENTLY take action. This all coming from a blog that has espoused or been the mouthpiece of some seriously deficient work in the name of cycling.

        How does he even get out of bed without worrying what our new President will do? My gosh, get a grip and really organize his own base politically, quit with the apocalyptic overtones, it’s getting old.

        Lets face it, we had high hopes for the blog when it arrived on the scene but it has been less than average.

        So, at least the author could stick to cycling, or has he changed the nature and subject of the blog and forgot to change the name?

    2. Gordon

      You mean the heavily debate fringe part of their platform that called for Isreal to not decimate the Palestinians? That’s hardly directly anti-Semitic, although foreign policy is a stretch for BLM. Care to elaborate?

      Equity of enforcement and infrastructure is integral to building a safe bike network that works for all.

  5. All lives matter

    Agree with poster above. Stick to people riding bikes.

    1. Gordon

      Really, all lives matter? Do you understand that “Black lives matter” is a slogan because people of color are disproportionately impacted police misconduct? Where are you coming from here?

      Stick to people riding bikes? Do you think people of color don’t deserve to feel safe on our streets? Equity of enforcement and infrastructure is integral to building a safe bike network that works for all.

      1. Anthony

        Where do you think the poster is coming from when asking about safety? Let me clue you in, they want to be safe, how hard is that to understand?

        Are you going on record and saying that their comment doesn’t deserve any merit because it doesn’t include YOUR preferred choice of political self-righteousness of-the-day?

        EVERYONE deserves to be safe, regardless of any type of orientation, ethnicity and any other damn thing they may have going for them. It appears that you and other posters here, including the author of the blog, seem to have ides that only wwant to favor the groups you care for. I guess we really can thank Tom for dragging cycling down to another level in Seattle we hadn’t seen before, if equity of enforcement and infrastructure is your end game then I would say you have driftede quite off course.

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