LiveMove and the UO Bike Program recently hosted an Equity in Biking event with Liz Jose. Liz presented her work with WE Bike NYC, and a lively question and answer session followed on larger questions of community engagement.
Liz discussed her graduate background in the sociology of education and as a certified bike mechanic that led her to see the inequities within access to biking in New York City. Jose shared the ways she gained insight on strategies to work with diverse groups, to not just include, but to listen to, and work with as partners. Liz described her work to help a variety of women gain access to bikes, mechanic knowledge, and learn how to ride a bike.
While the event was themed around equity in biking, her talk served as a case study of equity-based public participation. Liz talked about the lessons learned regarding grappling with an organization’s mission statement, the barriers that different communities face in participating in a group or activity (such as community bike rides), and to integrate members of marginalized groups into the leadership of an organization.
She also emphasized that for any professional looking to make a positive impact within marginalized communities, it is important not to focus too narrowly on one solution, such as biking. Liz described that she found biking in NYC to be a catalyst for increased accessibility and connectivity within and between communities, however this may not always be true in other cities. She described the effects of the topography of her newly adopted City of Seattle on the ease of biking, and the importance of letting the tactics to increase people’s access to resource be based on the context of their lives.
The Q & A involved a riveting discussion gentrification and issues in public participation processes. The audience included a range of current undergraduate and graduate students, alums, and community members.
By Caroline Mellor