The massive racial wealth gap is a major barrier to bicycle use
A new article on biking makes use of the "Beyond Broke: Why Closing the Racial Wealth Gap is a Priority for National Economic Security" released by the Center for Global Policy Solutions in collaboration with the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the Milano Graduate School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at The New School. Wealth functions as the crucial barrier to using a bicycle. And that matters a lot to the way that bicycling advocates should think about racial inequality.
"A bicycle can't save you money unless you have enough money to buy a bicycle. Two years ago, a post on our site asked "Why don't more African-Americans ride bicycles?" The issue isn't that Black Americans don't bike — they're almost exactly as likely to get on a bicycle as white Americans, for example. Instead, the question was why, given the much lower rate of car ownership by Black families (about 20 percent of Black-led households don't own a car, more than double the national average) bicycles weren't doing more to fill those mobility gaps.
This question matters to long-term racial equity because the single most powerful predictor of multigenerational poverty in the United States seems to be how hard it is to move around one's city.
Could bicycles promise people more time with their kids, or access to more or better job options, or more contact with far-flung friends and family — but then fail to deliver those promises because some aspect of racial inequality prevents or deters people from bicycling? That's what we and many other people want to know. There's no single answer. But in today's Better Bike Share post, I shared some statistics that matter. According to analysis of 2011 Census data by the Center for Global Policy Solutions, the median Black-led household has $25 in liquid wealth on hand at any given time, not counting retirement savings. The median Latino household has $100, and the median white household $3,000."