Urban Velo

The Invisible Cyclists: Immigrants and the Bike Community

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7 Comments

  1. jorgeJanuary 26, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Great post.

  2. John StonerJanuary 26, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    I know exactly what they’re talking about. I see the same thing in Chicago: low-income people, mostly men, biking around, not really connected to the larger bike community. Not like they’re explicitly disrespected, but they just don’t have those relationships. Just a guy alone, riding his bike, usually on the sidewalk, never with a helmet.

    I’m sure we all have a lot to learn from each other.

  3. RaiynJanuary 27, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Advocacy is great and all but we need to be educating people as far as basic safety rules so that we’re adding “cyclists” not “guys on bikes”. Google me and that phrase for an explanation if you don’t catch my drift.

  4. jorgeJanuary 27, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Neither advocacy nor education is enough. There needs to be laws and, more importantly, enforcement of the laws. Finally, there needs to be willingness to understand their circumstances, and to learn from immigrants on bikes if one hopes to ‘educate’ them.

    If a ‘cyclist’ who orders some Chinese or Mexican food delivered at home takes a couple of minutes to listen to the ‘guy on a bike’ who delivered the food, the cyclist will quickly learn:

    1) Immigrants bike mainly for economic reasons.

    2) Immigrants bike mostly on the sidewalk because, if they’re maimed or killed while on their bike, and thus become unable to work and earn money on their bikes, their entire family in their country of origin suffers as a result (the immigrant on a bike being the sole breadwinner, and the one who wires money back home in many cases).

    3) Immigrants often don’t wear a bike helmet because it’s extremely expensive for them to purchase one, and their employer won’t purchase a helmet for them

    4) It’s not unusual for the bikes they’re given for work to be stolen bikes.

    5) Immigrants on bikes tend not to trust the ‘advice’ of cyclists on bikes.

    Because of the above 5 points (and others), immigrants on a bike usually prefer to be ‘invisible’ (which they already are to most other people, anyway).

    First, I suggest there’s some understanding and compassion from the part of well-heeled ‘cyclists’. Second, I would make sure employers are required to provide their employees who work on bikes with the necessary bike safety equipment (e.g. helmet, lights). Third, I would prosecute employers who don’t provide their employees who work on bikes with the necessary equipment, and would also make them liable for any tickets given to their employees for not obeying the law (e.g. riding on the sidewalk). Fourth, I would set up educational bike workshops run by people from the immigrant community, and for people of that same community.

    Now, there are also non-immigrants on bikes who disobey laws, don’t wear helmets, etc. for various reasons. But that’s a different topic. The video is about IMMIGRANTS on bikes.

  5. RaiynJanuary 27, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    @ Jorge

    Since you’re obviously coming after me here I’ll respond in kind:

    {{1) Immigrants bike mainly for economic reasons.}}

    So do many cyclists who still manage to ride the correct way on the street, stop at stop signs, etc.

    {{2) Immigrants bike mostly on the sidewalk because, if they’re maimed or killed while on their bike, and thus become unable to work and earn money on their bikes, their entire family in their country of origin suffers as a result (the immigrant on a bike being the sole breadwinner, and the one who wires money back home in many cases).}}

    That’s a strawman. Bike riders of any stripe are MORE likely to be injured riding on sidewalks because cars aren’t looking for them.

    {{3) Immigrants often don’t wear a bike helmet because it’s extremely expensive for them to purchase one, and their employer won’t purchase a helmet for them.}}

    Another bullshit strawman, while helmets definitely add a layer of safety they are not a defining factor in making someone a cyclist as opposed to a “Guy on a bike”. As for “extremely expensive”? Yeah, not so much. A $20 Wally world helmet conforms to the same safety standards as the $200 Racer special.

    If the bicycle is to be used as part of the job then yes I agree – give them a helmet. But if it’s not then that’s on the employee.

    {{4) It’s not unusual for the bikes they’re given for work to be stolen bikes.}}

    Are you starting an old-time broom factory here? More straw? Really? Nobody mentioned anything about stolen bikes. If the employer is dealing in stolen bikes – go after the employer.

    {{5) Immigrants on bikes tend not to trust the ‘advice’ of cyclists on bikes.}}

    Advice schmadvice. Following even the most basic traffic laws would be wonderful. Arrows and sharrows point one way for a reason and it’s not like it’s hard thing to figure out.

    {{First, I suggest there’s some understanding and compassion from the part of well-heeled ‘cyclists’. }}

    It’s not that I’m not compassionate, (or well heeled for that matter) it’s just that I’m sick and tired of Bike Ninja’s and wrong way cyclists making my ride more dangerous.

    {{Now, there are also non-immigrants on bikes who disobey laws, don’t wear helmets, etc. for various reasons. But that’s a different topic. The video is about IMMIGRANTS on bikes.}}

    I never said there weren’t. What I said was: “we need to be educating people as far as basic safety rules so that we’re adding ‘cyclists’ not ‘guys on bikes’”. The fact of the matter is it doesn’t matter where they come from: if the “guys on bikes” ride like morons it makes the rest of us who are only trying to get to work or school look bad too.

  6. NYC_cyclistJanuary 28, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    “I’m sick and tired of Bike Ninja’s and wrong way cyclists making my ride more dangerous”

    +1
    Not only your ride, but public perception of cyclists and bicycling as a whole. Those proposals coming up in state legislatures – they don’t just materialize out of thin air. Somebody somewhere got seriously pissed at, say, a fast food delivery courier, riding his electric bike on a sidewalk. The effects are felt by the entire cycling community.

  7. jesseFebruary 1, 2011 at 11:31 am

    i like the fact none of them speak english….i learned nothing from watching this it just made me more angry.

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