1. ICYMI: Watch highlights, panels at ecoWURD’s 2021 Environmental Justice Summit
  2. BLACK MOTHERS NEED CLEANER & SAFER ENVIRONMENTS – IT’S A PUBLIC HEALTH IMPERATIVE
  3. USING DANCE TO SAVE A RIVER
  4. TRACKING PHILADELPHIA’S AIR QUALITY
  5. GETTING RELIGIOUS ON CLIMATE CRISIS
  6. WE NEED MORE BLACK PEOPLE IN AGRICULTURE
  7. WHEN THERE’S NO CLEAN ENVIRONMENT, WE HAVE NOTHING
  8. A PREMATURE END TO EVICTION MORATORIUMS
  9. THE LACK OF BELIEF IN CLIMATE CRISIS IS JUST AS MUCH A THREAT
  10. YOU CAN’T HAVE RACIAL JUSTICE WITHOUT FAIR HOUSING
  11. RUN OVER THE SYSTEMS: THE FUTURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM
  12. PENNSYLVANIA IS “WAY BEHIND” ON SOLAR. HOW DOES IT CATCH UP?
  13. Pandemic Relief For Black Farmers Still Is Not Enough
  14. A BLUEPRINT FOR THE NEXT URBANISM
  15. THAT ELECTRONIC & CLOTHING WASTE PILES UP. SO WHERE TO PUT IT?
  16. THE WOMB IS THE FIRST ENVIRONMENT
  17. A FRIDGE FOR EVERYONE WHO’S HUNGRY
  18. OLD SCHOOL FOSSIL FUEL ECONOMY VS. NEW SCHOOL CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY
  19. ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE IS THE TOP SOCIAL JUSTICE PRIORITY
  20. IN 2020, DID “BIG GREEN” BECOME LESS WHITE?
  21. CLIMATE ACTION CAN POWER OUR RECOVERY
  22. IN PANDEMIC, AN HBCU DOES IT BETTER
  23. A DANGEROUS LACK OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE PROTECTIONS
  24. HOW FAST CAN A BIDEN PRESIDENCY MOVE ON CLIMATE ISSUES?
  25. CRAFTING A BLACK-DRIVEN CORONAVIRUS AND CLIMATE “STIMULUS” AGENDA
  26. Penn to donate $100 million to Philadelphia school district to help public school children
  27. BLACK ECOLOGIES IN TIDEWATER VIRGINIA
  28. WHAT IS “FROM THE SOURCE REPORTING?”
  29. LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
  30. THE ECOWURD SUMMIT LAUNCH
  31. National Geographic Virtual Photo Camp: Earth Stories Aimed to Elevate Indigenous Youth Voices
  32. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2020
  33. TOO MANY NATURAL GAS SPILLS
  34. GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
  35. BLACK VOTERS ARE THE ECO-VOTERS CLIMATE ACTIVISTS ARE LOOKING FOR
  36. CANNABIS PROFIT & BLACK ECONOMY
  37. THE NATURE GAP
  38. BLACK PEOPLE NEED NATURE
  39. WHAT IS TREEPHILLY?
  40. IS AN OBSCURE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE IN HARRISBURG DOING ENOUGH?
  41. AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISM’S RACIST ROOTS
  42. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  43. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  44. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  45. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  46. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  47. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  48. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  49. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  50. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  51. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  52. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  53. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  54. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  55. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  56. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  57. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  58. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  59. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  60. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  61. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  62. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  63. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  64. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  65. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  66. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  67. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  68. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  69. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  70. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  71. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  72. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  73. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  74. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  75. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  76. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  77. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  78. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  79. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  80. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  81. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  82. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  83. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  84. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  85. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  86. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  87. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  88. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  89. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  90. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  91. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  92. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  93. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  94. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  95. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  96. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  97. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  98. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  99. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  100. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  101. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  102. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  103. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  104. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  105. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  106. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  107. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  108. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  109. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  110. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  111. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  112. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  113. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  114. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  115. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  116. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  117. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  118. Are You Going to Drink That?
  119. The Origins of ecoWURD
  120. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  121. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  122. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  123. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess
Friday, October 22, 2021
  1. ICYMI: Watch highlights, panels at ecoWURD’s 2021 Environmental Justice Summit
  2. BLACK MOTHERS NEED CLEANER & SAFER ENVIRONMENTS – IT’S A PUBLIC HEALTH IMPERATIVE
  3. USING DANCE TO SAVE A RIVER
  4. TRACKING PHILADELPHIA’S AIR QUALITY
  5. GETTING RELIGIOUS ON CLIMATE CRISIS
  6. WE NEED MORE BLACK PEOPLE IN AGRICULTURE
  7. WHEN THERE’S NO CLEAN ENVIRONMENT, WE HAVE NOTHING
  8. A PREMATURE END TO EVICTION MORATORIUMS
  9. THE LACK OF BELIEF IN CLIMATE CRISIS IS JUST AS MUCH A THREAT
  10. YOU CAN’T HAVE RACIAL JUSTICE WITHOUT FAIR HOUSING
  11. RUN OVER THE SYSTEMS: THE FUTURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM
  12. PENNSYLVANIA IS “WAY BEHIND” ON SOLAR. HOW DOES IT CATCH UP?
  13. Pandemic Relief For Black Farmers Still Is Not Enough
  14. A BLUEPRINT FOR THE NEXT URBANISM
  15. THAT ELECTRONIC & CLOTHING WASTE PILES UP. SO WHERE TO PUT IT?
  16. THE WOMB IS THE FIRST ENVIRONMENT
  17. A FRIDGE FOR EVERYONE WHO’S HUNGRY
  18. OLD SCHOOL FOSSIL FUEL ECONOMY VS. NEW SCHOOL CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY
  19. ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE IS THE TOP SOCIAL JUSTICE PRIORITY
  20. IN 2020, DID “BIG GREEN” BECOME LESS WHITE?
  21. CLIMATE ACTION CAN POWER OUR RECOVERY
  22. IN PANDEMIC, AN HBCU DOES IT BETTER
  23. A DANGEROUS LACK OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE PROTECTIONS
  24. HOW FAST CAN A BIDEN PRESIDENCY MOVE ON CLIMATE ISSUES?
  25. CRAFTING A BLACK-DRIVEN CORONAVIRUS AND CLIMATE “STIMULUS” AGENDA
  26. Penn to donate $100 million to Philadelphia school district to help public school children
  27. BLACK ECOLOGIES IN TIDEWATER VIRGINIA
  28. WHAT IS “FROM THE SOURCE REPORTING?”
  29. LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
  30. THE ECOWURD SUMMIT LAUNCH
  31. National Geographic Virtual Photo Camp: Earth Stories Aimed to Elevate Indigenous Youth Voices
  32. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2020
  33. TOO MANY NATURAL GAS SPILLS
  34. GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
  35. BLACK VOTERS ARE THE ECO-VOTERS CLIMATE ACTIVISTS ARE LOOKING FOR
  36. CANNABIS PROFIT & BLACK ECONOMY
  37. THE NATURE GAP
  38. BLACK PEOPLE NEED NATURE
  39. WHAT IS TREEPHILLY?
  40. IS AN OBSCURE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE IN HARRISBURG DOING ENOUGH?
  41. AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISM’S RACIST ROOTS
  42. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  43. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  44. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  45. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  46. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  47. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  48. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  49. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  50. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  51. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  52. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  53. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  54. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  55. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  56. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  57. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  58. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  59. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  60. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  61. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  62. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  63. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  64. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  65. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  66. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  67. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  68. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  69. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  70. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  71. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  72. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  73. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  74. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  75. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  76. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  77. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  78. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  79. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  80. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  81. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  82. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  83. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  84. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  85. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  86. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  87. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  88. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  89. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  90. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  91. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  92. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  93. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  94. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  95. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  96. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  97. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  98. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  99. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  100. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  101. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  102. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  103. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  104. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  105. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  106. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  107. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  108. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  109. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  110. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  111. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  112. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  113. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  114. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  115. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  116. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  117. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  118. Are You Going to Drink That?
  119. The Origins of ecoWURD
  120. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  121. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  122. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  123. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess

by Anne Lusk | Harvard University

Designing for bikes has become a hallmark of forward-looking modern cities worldwide. Bike-friendly city ratings abound, and advocates promote cycling as a way to reduce problems ranging from air pollution to traffic deaths.

But urban cycling investments tend to focus on the needs of wealthy riders and neglect lower-income residents and people of color. This happens even though the single biggest group of Americans who bike to work live in households that earn less than US$10,000 yearly, and studies in lower-income neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Boston have found that the majority of bicyclists were non-white.

I have worked on bicycle facilities for 38 years. In a newly published study, I worked with colleagues from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Boston groups focused on health and families to learn from residents of several such neighborhoods what kinds of bike infrastructure they believed best met their needs. Some of their preferences were notably different from those of cyclists in wealthier neighborhoods.

Cycling infrastructure and urban inequality

Bike equity is a powerful tool for increasing access to transportation and reducing inequality in U.S. cities. Surveys show that the fastest growth in cycling rates since 2001 has occurred among Hispanic, African-American and Asian-American riders. But minority neighborhoods have fewer bike facilities, and riders there face higher risk of accidents and crashes.

Many U.S. cities have improved marginalized neighborhoods by investing in grocery stores, schools, health clinics, community centers, libraries and affordable housing. But when it comes to bicycle infrastructure, they often add only the easiest and least safe elements, such as painting sharrows – stencils of bikes and double chevrons – or bike lane markings, and placing them next to curbs or between parked cars and traffic. Cycle tracks – bike lanes separated from traffic by curbs, lines of posts or rows of parked cars – are more common in affluent neighborhoods.

Compared with white wealthier neighborhoods, more bicyclists in ethnic-minority neighborhoods receive tickets for unlawful riding or are involved in collisions. With access to properly marked cycle tracks, they would have less reason to ride on the sidewalk or against traffic on the street, and would be less likely to be hit by cars.

In my view, responsibility for recognizing these needs rests primarily with cities. Urban governments rely on public participation processes to help them target investments, and car owners tend to speak loudest because they want to maintain access to wide street lanes and parallel parking. In contrast, carless residents who could benefit from biking may not know to ask for facilities that their neighborhoods have never had.

Protection from crime and crashes

For our study, we organized 212 people into 16 structured discussion groups. They included individuals we classified as “community-sense” – representing civic organizations such as YMCAs and churches – or “street-sense,” volunteers from halfway houses, homeless shelters and gangs. We invited the street-sense groups because individuals who have committed crimes or know of crime opportunities have valuable insights about urban design.

We showed the groups photos of various cycling environments, ranging from unaltered streets to painted sharrows and bike lanes, cycle tracks and shared multi-use paths. Participants ranked the pictures according to the risk of crime or crashes they associated with each option, then discussed their perceptions as a group.

Studies have shown that awareness of criminal activity along bike routes can deter cyclists, and this is an important concern in low-income and minority neighborhoods. In a study in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, I found that African-American and Hispanic bicyclists were more concerned than white cyclists that their bikes could be stolen. Some carried bikes up three flights of stairs to store them inside their homes.

From an anti-crime perspective, our focus groups’ ideal bike system was a wide two-way cycle track with freshly painted lines and bike stencils plus arrows, free of oil or litter. Conditions around the route also mattered. Our groups perceived areas with clean signs, cafes with tables and flowers, balconies, streetlights and no alleyways or cuts between buildings as safest. They also wanted routes to avoid buildings that resembled housing projects, warehouses and abandoned buildings.

For crash safety, participants preferred cycle tracks separated from cars by physical dividers; wide cycle track surfaces, colored red to designate them as space for bicyclists; and bike stencils and directional arrows on the tracks. In their view, the safest locations for bike facilities had traffic signals for bikers, clearly painted lines, low levels of traffic, and did not run near bus stops or intersections where many streets converged. 

Rules for the road

We compared our results with widely used bicycle design guidelines and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design principles to see whether those sources reflected our participants’ priorities. The guidelines produced by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the National Association of City Transportation Officials provide engineering specifications for designing bicycle facilities that focus on road elements – paint, delineator posts and signs – but do not describe design features that would protect vulnerable humans bicycling through an environment at night. Our study asked people about what kinds of surface markings and features in the surrounding area made them feel most comfortable.

As an example, our groups preferred street-scale lighting to brighten the surface of cycle tracks. In contrast, tall highway cobra-head lights typically used on busy urban streets reach over the roadway, illuminating the road for drivers in vehicles that have headlights.

In higher-income neighborhoods, cyclists might choose bike routes on side streets to avoid heavy traffic. However, people in our study felt that side streets with only residential buildings were less safe for cycling. This suggests that bicycle routes in lower-income ethnic-minority neighborhoods should be concentrated on main roads with commercial activity where more people are present.

Decisions about public rights-of-way should not be based on how many car owners or how few bicyclists show up at public meetings. Our study shows that city officials should create networks of wide, stenciled, red-painted, surface-lighted, barrier-protected, bicycle-exclusive cycle tracks in lower-income ethnic-minority neighborhoods along main streets. This would help residents get to work affordably, quickly and safely, and improve public health and quality of life in communities where these benefits are most needed. 

ANNE LUSK is a Research Scientist at Harvard University. This originally appeared in The Conversation.