Why Don’t We See More Black Girls Riding Bikes In Washington DC?


Biking is super popular in Washington DC with its extensive network of bike lanes and trails. However, I can’t help but notice the lack of black girls and women riding bikes in the city.

This is not just an observation but a fact supported by data. According to a study conducted by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), only 1% of bikers in the DC region are black women. In this article, we explore the reasons behind this disparity.

Lack of Representation in Media

Representation in media can have a significant impact on how individuals perceive certain activities. The lack of representation of black girls and women in biking-related media can make them feel excluded from the activity. The media tends to focus on a particular image of a cyclist: white, male, and affluent. This representation does not reflect the diversity of DC’s population and discourages black girls and women from taking up biking.

Cost of Biking Equipment

Biking equipment can be expensive, which can act as a barrier for many people, especially those who are from lower-income households. Bikes, helmets, and other safety gear can cost hundreds of dollars, making it difficult for many families to afford. This economic barrier disproportionately affects black communities who have a lower median income compared to other racial groups.

Fear of Harassment

Harassment is a significant concern for many black girls and women who ride bikes. According to the WABA study, more than 60% of black female bikers have reported experiencing harassment while cycling. This harassment can range from verbal abuse to physical violence, making it difficult for many black girls and women to feel safe while riding a bike.

Lack of Safe Bike Routes

While DC has an extensive network of bike lanes and trails, many of these routes are not safe, particularly for black girls and women. Poor infrastructure, such as bike lanes that suddenly end or merge with car traffic, can make it difficult for bikers to navigate the city safely. Additionally, many of these routes are located in affluent neighborhoods, making it difficult for low-income families to access them.

Historical Legacy of Systemic Racism

The history of systemic racism in the United States has created long-lasting effects on black communities, including access to safe transportation. Redlining, the practice of denying services, such as transportation, to black communities, has created transportation deserts in many areas of DC. This legacy of racism has created barriers for many black girls and women who may not have access to a bike or a safe place to ride.

The lack of representation in media, the cost of biking equipment, fear of harassment, lack of safe bike routes, and the historical legacy of systemic racism are all contributing factors to the under-representation of black girls and women in biking in Washington DC. To increase diversity in biking, we need to address these barriers by providing more representation in media, making biking more affordable, creating safer bike routes, and addressing the legacy of systemic racism that has created transportation deserts in many areas. By doing so, we can make biking a more accessible and equitable activity for all.

Check out my black girls and women biking art prints on Etsy. Support the cause. Let’s get more black girls and women on bikes!

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