Race and accessibility in the cycling community
Spurred into reflection by the murder of George Floyd and so many others, it’s so obvious we’ve failed. This is bigger than cycling, but cycling is part of the problem. And as a major voice within this community, CyclingTips is part of the problem.
We used our voice poorly, quietly, and insufficiently, particularly over the last week. The excuse, an embarrassing one, is that I didn’t know what to say. I imagine a lot of our community feels like this. So I listen, and try to learn, and now I’m writing. Late, but not never.
Road cycling has an accessibility problem. We have a diversity problem. We have an empathy problem and an education problem and an action problem. So does mountain biking, which is why our sister site Pinkbike is also publishing a piece on this topic today. Between the two sites, we cover a huge swath of the world’s riders, and we have a responsibility to act.
Our job is to amplify voices. To tell stories that build empathy. To lift perspectives too often pushed down by a sport stunted by its own homogeneity. This is our super power. It is in this space where we can make change, apply resources, and be better. Internally and externally.
What can the community do?
The answers to this question don’t come from me, a white kid from Vermont. Pinkbike’s head of editorial, Brian Park, and I have spent much of the week in discussions with those who have answers. Here’s what they’re saying:
- Listen to people who say they’re hurting, educate ourselves, and reflect on our own biases and behaviours
- Take part in the civic process, vote, and make donations to organizations and efforts to fight racial injustice
- Hold companies to supporting the inclusion and diversity they say they want
- Give the industry some time to figure out what that support looks like—it takes time to make good plans for lasting change
- Be persistent, don’t let us or anyone else off the hook to continue pushing for change
We have to deal with the conditions within this sport that make riders feel unwelcome and unheard.
What can CyclingTips do?
CyclingTips stands in support of BIPOC communities. We stand against racial injustice, and we actively protest it.
We believe that silence is not an option.
First and foremost, we are listening. We’re reflecting on our own biases and seeking to educate ourselves.
Second, we are going to amplify underrepresented voices.
This thing gripping America right now is so much bigger than cycling that it feels silly even bringing up bikes. But at the same time, this is our corner of the world. This is the place where we have a voice – a megaphone, even – and where we can amplify others.
We understand the tools at our disposal, and are beginning to understand how we can use them differently and better. This is a process.
Third, we’re going to double down on our efforts to maintain a welcoming community of commenters, readers, and listeners. We are going to update our community guidelines and put resources towards enforcing them. Debate and discussion are always welcome, toxicity is not.
As an example, this will be added to our community guidelines, and to Pinkbike’s:
No #alllivesmatter or #bluelivesmatter comments. While they’re technically inclusive, they’re designed to undermine and delegitimize the movement. It’s saying “the status quo is fine, your suffering doesn’t matter” to people who are hurting. #blacklivesmatter has an inclusive subtext—“Black lives matter too,” not “only Black lives matter.” Saying “all lives matter” is like going to an AIDS walk and shouting “All Diseases Matter!” It’s interpreted as a thinly veiled racist statement. Please don’t do it.
The very fact that it took a week for us to wrap our heads around what CyclingTips can do in this space is indicative of how far we have to go. We want your help. If you have a story you think we should tell, a voice we should amplify, reach out. You can email me directly at email@example.com.
Black Lives Matter.