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More Diversity Needed in Bike Planning Processes

Left behind in business-as-usual city planning processes: low income and racial minority residents who rely on biking for transportation.
November 5, 2015, 11am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Rachel Dovey examines a project recently completed by BikeHouston for lessons in how standard-practice city planning fails standards of social equity for cyclists.

According to Dovey, "[b]y gathering input along high-traffic routes for transit-dependent cyclists, the women behind BikeHouston’s targeted outreach program managed to demonstrate just how exclusive the business-as-usual cycle of notices, public forums and plan updates can be."

The project described helped gather public info for a revision of Houston's Comprehensive Bikeway Plan. "Instead of inviting cyclists to come to them," reports Dovey, "BikeHouston decided to meet riders where they were — specifically, along the Metro Red Line during late-night and early-morning commute hours."

Nabiha Hossain, then an intern with BikeHouston, spent the project interviewing cyclists for their opinions about bike safety. In addition to the typical kind of information one would expect to collect during a bike planning process, Hossain also reached a much larger realization: how completely standard-practice city engagement tactics seemed to be failing the cyclists she spoke with.

Dovey adds that other programs in East Los Angeles and San Francisco are also experimenting with new outreach methods to close the racial gap in bike planning practices. 

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Published on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 in Next City
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