Race, Infrastructure, and Police in Cycling

Recent research suggests that cyclists of color are more likely to receive citations, but enforcement has little correlation with improved safety.

September 13, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Hipster Cyclists

Steven Depolo / Flickr

A new study from Jesus M. Barajas assesses the disproportionate impact of cycling citations on Black and brown communities in Chicago. Some important conclusions: "Tickets were issued 8 times more often per capita in majority Black tracts and 3 times more often in majority Latino tracts compared to majority white tracts. More tickets were issued on major streets, but up to 85% fewer were issued when those streets had bike facilities, which were less prevalent in Black and Latino neighborhoods."

"The high number of tickets in majority Black neighborhoods came despite having the fewest serious bicycle crashes." However, Black neighborhoods "had the highest number of serious crashes of all modes on average," in part due to having "higher shares of streets without bicycle infrastructure compared to majority Asian or white census tracts."

A spatial analysis of tickets suggests that "bicycle tickets are only weakly associated with safety needs, if at all." The study also shows that improved bike infrastructure could reduce citations. "Separated lanes appeared to have the strongest effects. On arterial streets, cyclists received citations 25% as often when there was a separated lane compared to no bicycle infrastructure."

Barajas concludes that "[r]emoving inequities in cycling infrastructure provision, while also ensuring communities are fully represented in bicycle planning processes, is crucial" to any cycling safety strategy.

Thursday, September 9, 2021 in Science Direct


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