By Courtney Cole, WBZ-TV
BOSTON - Boston's Mayor wants to make the city more bike-friendly, but are communities of color being left out of that conversation?
Mayor Michelle Wu said she wants to extend bike trails through several neighborhoods in the city. It's something Black and brown communities have been talking about for more than a decade. They want to make sure they're included as the project moves forward.
Elijah Evans is the Executive Director of Bikes Not Bombs.
He said their non-profit uses bikes as a vehicle for social change and to help communities of color achieve economic mobility.
According to their website, the organization got its start in 1984 with a shipment of two bikes to Nicaragua. Since then, they have shipped more than 80,000 bicycles.
"As [Representative] Ayanna Presley would say-- it's at the intersection of economic justice, environmental justice, and racial justice. And so, we see the power that it has been for 38 years. It has really helped us make impact internationally and here in Boston," Evans said.
An impact primarily made through their program called Youth Pathways. Young people who participate in the program are taught bicycle safety and mechanics skills in the process, of earning bikes to keep for themselves.
"I think there's a misconception that in communities of color, we don't bike--or sometimes even within our own communities. It is a predominately white industry and we've existed for this long--trying to communicate the idea that bicyclists of color, exist. We're out here--We bike to work, to school, to get groceries to get around our community. And that is something that is inherently empowering and it's something that we've seen really help people figure out what they want to do next," Evans said.
On Tuesday, Mayor Wu and The Boston Transportation Department announced the expansion of Boston's Bike Network and Safer Streets, which includes a 9.4-mile expansion of bike lanes on streets in the following communities:
• Allston-Brighton: North Beacon Street, South Street, Western Avenue, Winship Street
• Back Bay & Downtown: Berkeley Street, Boylston Street, Milk Street
• Fenway/Kenmore: Commonwealth Avenue, Hemenway Street
• South End & Bay Village: Albany Street, Berkeley Street, Charles Street South/Tremont Street
• Mission Hill: South Huntington Avenue
• Jamaica Plain: Boylston Street, Green Street, Eliot Street, McBride Street, Seaverns Avenue, South Huntington Avenue
• Roslindale: Poplar Street
"It seems like with Mayor Wu, the city is moving in a direction that is going to create the kind of environment where bike shops can be more accessible-- no matter where you are in the city," Evans told WBZ.
Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury are not on the list.
WBZ reached out to the Mayor's Office to ask why these neighborhoods were left out of the new plan. A city spokesperson sent this response:
"There are two major components of the bike network announcement. The second is the start of a planning process to work in our neighborhoods and with community members to plan and design the next round of bike infrastructure. Dorchester, Mattapan, and other neighborhoods will be part of that process and the outcome will shape what we build in the years to come."
"I think people should have the option to take bicycling, if that works for them. And that means we need to create the investments in communities of color in particular, because we've been left out for so long," Evans said.
For more information about Bikes Not Bombs or to volunteer visit: bikesnotbombs.org
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