It’s been a brick since I’ve written anything. This is due to a combination of writer’s block and fear of the ways in which humans these days get publicly executed for being wrong about something they say online.
I will start off by admitting that I am a human being with flaws who is constantly learning and evolving. My opinions and beliefs are subject to change because they’re allowed be. And while I am open to dialogue, I completely abhor (SAT word) personal attacks.
So with that being said….
As some may know, i am a biker. Biking is my primary choice/option of transportation around DC and Richmond, VA because:
- it’s free
- i hate working out
- i dont have a car
- even if i did, i ain’t paying for gas
- DC metro is atrociously expensive
- i’m into biker boys ;)
In the US, biking is often considered a pastime enjoyed by non-PoC’s (the webseries Black Folk Don’t and increased popularity of Capital BikeShare can attest to that fact). However, in my day-to-day experiences between these two cities, I’m seeing more and more folk that look like me pumping through the streets on two wheelers.
And I’m not talking about D-bo-style, 2mph-so-everybody-sees-you bike cruise through your neighborhood. I mean black men and women flying past me on the street with purpose and with a place to go. And while I’m estatic to see my kinfolk lowering our carbon footprint, the question still lingers in the corner of my mind:
What’s REALLY going on here?
Biking has gone from being an activity to a necessity. Talking to fellow black bikers these past few days, bike theft has grown so rampant that many use two U-locks and STILL fear losing a seats, pedals, brakes, etc.
I think its safe to assume that my reasons for biking are shared with the multitudes (maybe less on the hot guys and more emphasis on the high price of gas and public transportation lol). But, in addition, bike parts are way cheaper and easier to work on.
I can’t describe how bad ass i feel now that I know how to change my inner tube :)
The necessity and severity of bike riding remind me of a neo-realist Italian film I watched during my first semester at NYU called “The Bicycle Thief”. Set in post-WWII Rome, Italy, the film tells the story of Antonio Ricci, man in search of work to support his wife, baby, and son, Bruno. He is offered a position to sell ads, however the position is far from his home and he does not have a bicycle. So his wife sells the dowry bedsheets — which, during those times, was like, a big fucking deal — to get her husband a bike.
Long story short, the bike is stolen and Antonio and Bruno go on a rampage to find his bike. They eventually find the thief but the plan sort of backfires because the public gets involved and starts blaming Antonio for acting crazy. The cops search the thief’s house but the bike is not there. Downhearted, they go to the National Stadium of the Fascist Party (!) where there’s a game going on and *ding* plenty of unattended bikes. Antonio doesn’t want to steal in front of his son so he gives him streetcar fare and proceeds to steal to bike. And AGAIN the public gets involved and proceeds to arrest him. The bike owner sees Bruno, who has missed his bus and is watching his father at his lowest, and drops the charges. The movie ends with a question mark as Antonio tries his best to salvage his pride in front of his son.
It’s a great movie! Check it out on Netflix!
But my point is, while our society’s current circumstances are miles down the road from Fascist italy, it is important to note the similarities in economically-torn nations. Images of African families sharing a single bicycle aren’t just intended for funny memes. They speak on power structure, culture, and the survival methods for those on the bottom rung of society.
In cities like DC and Richmond that were once plagued by White Flight and now suffer (from my perspective, at least) from White Resurgence, poor people are getting pushed to wayside and are forced to find ways to navigate through housing discrimination, increase living costs, welfare cuts, workforce education requirements, and, now, limited means of transportation. A bike is not just a toy anymore, it’s an economic come up. And the past ALWAYS repeats itself.
So to all my bikers, in DC especially, ALWAYS lock your bike up. Use a U-Lock, not a chain or wire. Use two if you got it. Or, pull the lock through the wheel and the frame THEN lock it to whatever post or tree you find that’s incapable of being cut down easily. Take the other wheel off and take it with you if you can. Bring it indoors at night. And if these methods still fail, make sure you bring a weapon with you when you try and find the person who stole it lol.
Peace and blessings