Bike lanes are controversial. They often bring up things beyond the immediate transportation project, and lead to a conversation that’s much bigger - gentrification. And yet still, to talk gentrification, we need to talk racism, classism, and multi-generational poverty.
Atlanta, like many cities, has a history of using highways as a tool to encourage racial segregation. (Read The Partnership for Southern Equity’s “Opportunity Deferred: Race, Transportation, and the Future of Metropolitan Atlanta“ for more background on this.)
On top of that, we live in a country where multi-generational poverty severely limits opportunity. Racism, both on institutional and individual levels, persists. We’ve not sufficiently dealt with gentrification, and transportation, like everything, is not colorblind. This is the world in which we work.
But we cannot erase decades of historic oppression. In order to be effective at achieving our mission, we seek to support community members and experts within intersecting fields to make sure our work seeks justice, all while remembering our history so as not to reproduce it.
So back to our lane - advocating for a safer, more connected, less congested city by making biking equitable, safe, and appealing.
In Atlanta today, this means tackling the question of affordability. This past spring, we took a step in a new direction by including affordable housing in our bicycle transportation advocacy, because we recognize that housing and transportation are inseparable. There’s no use in having a bike lane or better transit if you can’t afford to live near it.
We also started participating in the The TransFormation Alliance, The Transportation Equity Advisory Group of the Atlanta Regional Commission, and the Atlanta Regional Housing Forum. Political change happens incrementally, and we are at the table, pushing to make sure those changes happen.
Sustainable transportation brings issues into the spotlight that are on many Atlantans’ minds, including ours. One of our challenges is to remember that while we “do bikes” for a living, we have to be better about disseminating our passions and knowledge. We hope that this post gets us closer to doing just that. We will continue to work towards a day when everyone can live the life they desire, with knowledge of our history, and justice-oriented optimism for our future together.