Washington Bikes’ Commitment to Anti-Racism
Washington Bikes is deeply invested in our vision of a safe and healthy future where bicycles unite people, eliminate inequity, and create thriving communities. To make that a reality, we have work to do in our state and across the country to make bicycling more accessible and safe for everyone, regardless of their skin color. Washington Bikes and our sister organization, Cascade Bicycle Club, stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and oppose police brutality. Dismantling white supremacy in our work and in our community must be at the forefront of everything we do. Our organization has committed to a racial equity plan, approved by the Board in April of 2020, that reaffirms our commitment to eliminating racial inequities in our culture, in our policies, and in our practices. We are dedicated to working with our community and partners to overcome the vast impacts of systemic racism within our organization and in bicycling more broadly. There is much work to do.
This page is a document to share our work as we continue to grow and learn on this racial equity journey. Please refer to this glossary of terms used or online guide from Racial Equity Tools when leaning in and learning about race and racism.
Why Anti-Racism Matters in Bicycling
At Washington Bikes, we work daily toward a mission of promoting the benefits of bicycling, advocating for people who bike, and collaborating with community members and public officials to shape polices and invest in thriving communities. But we must also confront the reality that our streets are not truly safe for everyone and we have not done enough to equitably protect the lives of Black and Brown people who are on our streets, bicycling or otherwise. As former Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Tamika Butler said, “Bicycling cannot solve systemic racism in the United States. But systemic racism can’t be fixed without tackling it within bicycling.” As our racial equity plan makes clear, Cascade has committed itself to transforming from being a bicycling club working to diversify itself to one that, through bicycling, works to eliminate inequities in community healthy outcomes and in mobility and transportation access.
In other words, we believe deep systems changes are needed to make our streets safe for everyone, and that undoing racist harms must happen in every aspect of our work. Some folks have said to us, “bikes don’t discriminate” but we know from the data and from our community’s stories that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color experience bicycling differently. We believe we must actively fight systems of oppression and inequality if we hope to meaningfully contribute to the movement for Black lives. To do anything less would perpetuate these same systems and further harm Black and Brown people, on and off the bike.
Washington Bikes and Cascade have been actively working on our Racial Equity Plan for several years that guides us toward several racial equity outcomes we seek to achieve — and we acknowledge that we have more work to do both in our organization and with the broader community. However, we are excited and energized by the work we are currently doing, including:
- We are amplifying the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color sister organizations, such as Peace Peloton and Northstar Cycling Club.
- We developed a racial equity toolkit, which we use to run new and current programs through in order to analyze how outcomes impact equity and Black, Indigenous people, and all People of Color communities. This toolkit has been used to review our Washington Bikes affiliate’s endorsement process as well as our Executive Director job description, and the entire staff and board has received training on how to implement it.
- We have established workplace culture, workplace equity, and toolkit subcommittees of our Racial Equity Committee.
- The workplace culture committee is working to cultivate a workplace culture that values equity and diversity through the development of a process that amplifies the needs of staff of color and which provides a safe and secure way to talk about race and racism within Cascade. Among its objectives, we have had a standing conversation about race at our weekly staff meeting where we discuss how Cascade’s work directly impacts equity.
- The workplace equity committee is working to achieve racial equity in internal recruitment, hiring, contracting, and onboarding/advancement methods through the elimination of implicit or explicit bias. It has reviewed our staff handbook, our employee performance evaluation, and the Equal Opportunity statement in our job descriptions, and meets with HR on an ongoing basis to evaluate hiring practices.
Though much of this work is internal, the toolkit requires us to reach out to external advisors and supporters to provide feedback on whether we hit the mark, and to review new and existing policies, practices, and programs through it to ensure we achieve racial equity by centering communities of color.
How Can I Help?
There are many ways supporters, volunteers, partners, and community members can advance racial equity, both within bicycling and in their communities.
- Follow Black, Indigenous, and People of Color leaders who have organized, researched, and worked on these issues for a long time. We made a list of folks we recommend here.
- Read more about how to be a good ally. Make sure newcomers on Free Group Rides or in other Cascade spaces feel welcome and part of the group. Believe people when they say they experienced racism while biking.
- If you are white, don’t expect Black or brown people to educate you or to give you a pat on the back for your progress. Examine your internal biases and explore what being anti-racist means.
- Research local Black-led organizations and sign on to support them, donate to them, or engage with them. Here are a few we recommend.
- Support the Major Taylor Project and help build leadership skills and bike knowledge in youth from underserved communities.
- If you attend a panel on bicycling, a bicycling event, or another space, lift up the voices of people of color in the room, or call out the fact that they are missing if none are present.
- Keep learning. Read the Bicycling magazine issue with 14 stories from Black people who love bikes. Also, the Seattle Public Library put together a powerful toolkit for anti-racism allies. Check it out here.
Originally posted: 12/7/20