We ride bikes for many purposes: to get to work, to go to the coffee shop, to race, for exercise or just to improve our mental health. This Black is Beautiful Ride is to promote equity, unity, justice and enjoy the feeling of the wind in our faces together.

Sam (WebsterX) Ahmed is interviewed by news media before the Black is Beautiful Ride he helped organize
Sam (WebsterX) Ahmed is interviewed by news media before the Black is Beautiful Ride he helped organize.

Our communities look and function the way they do due to racism in land use and transportation policy. Historical disenfranchisement, disinvestment, disproportionate exposure to pollution, and repressive policing in BIPOC communities negatively affects collective health, wealth and mobility security. In a time when more and more people are out riding bikes and bike shops are selling out of bikes, equitable access to trails, green space, and bikes in general, is again highlighted as a concern.

We can’t have Mobility Justice without Racial Justice!

People walk bikes behind two black power flags in front of Milwaukee skyline
The last Black is Beautiful ride began with a procession around Reservoir Park.

The Bike Fed’s mission is to make biking better for anyone on a bike in Wisconsin. To stay true to that we are proud to partner with the organizers of the Black is Beautiful Ride: Volume 2. Local rappers, artists, and organizers WebsterX, Zed Kenzo, Darius Smith, and Noga Faith Salmon are organizing the ride set for Sunday, August 16th, 1pm at Reservoir Park in Milwaukee.

Join the Ride!

Sunday, August 16, 1 pm at Reservoir Park

register

3 models show off the shirts you can order
Order a shirt for pick up or shipped and half the proceeds support installing a Fix It station in a MKE park.
Riders begin pedaling at the start of the black is beautiful ride.
WebsterX looks back as he begins the on-street portion of the Black is Beautiful Ride.

At the first ride in June our Mobile Repair staff, along with Dream Bikes and Wheel and Sprocket staff, showed up to help air up and repair hundreds of bikes to make sure the riders would all have a safe and enjoyable ride. After the ride I went home and reflected on the experience. It was so amazing and uplifting to see thousands out enjoying a mental health day, but to connect it with the fight against racial injustice made an extra lasting impact. The organizers sold t-shirts to raise just over $10,000 for local organizations fighting for equality and justice, and against racist actions in the community and by police.

I reached out to Sam Ahmed (WebsterX) to ask if we could talk about what I’ve seen, and his experiences, in the city and thoughts on the possibility of a future ride and how to bring to light the issues facing BIPOC people on bikes. We met for a socially distant coffee and spoke about the troubles that Black riders face in the city, and across the country. We discussed various issues including, why there weren’t more BIPOC riders at the first event? How can the efforts support the underserved communities in Milwaukee? How does policing affect BIPOC riders? How does biking fit into the movement across the country right now?

Thousands of riders congregate at the bandshell in Washington Park during a break in the Black is Beautiful Ride.
Thousands of riders congregated at the bandshell in Washington Park during a break in the last Black is Beautiful Ride.

Through our discussions I let him know about our Mobile Repair Program in Milwaukee and about how in Madison we are partnering with the JUST BIKES coalition to install Fix-It stations in underserved communities. The goal being to give access to and empower young riders of color to repair their own bikes, help others fix bikes, and provide that missing link that many communities lack without a local bike shop.

Two young residents learn about the Fix-It station just installed at Kennedy Heights in Madison

Ultimately Sam and I agreed there were things we could do to make a positive difference. The Bike Fed commits to educate, train and employ a local ambassador who will oversee a Fix-It station purchased and installed with funds donated from the Black is Beautiful Ride: Volume 2 at a to be determined community center in Milwaukee.

So check out the event, buy a shirt, come ride, share and support as we work together to lift up, empower, and welcome riders to the movement for better biking! And wear your mask!

Fighting the power is a full-time job, especially if you’re Black. Take this event as a moment to collectively exhale as a community and join us on a ride for Black lives. We’ll keep marching, we’ll keep chanting, but for one day we need to feel the wind in our face again. Black Lives Matter. Black Mental Health Matters too. 

-WebsterX

If you, as a person of color, are looking for other rides and social connections please check out either Red, Bike, and Green  or Black Girls Do Bike.
Looking for other upcoming rides? Red, Bike & Green is hosting a Bronzeville Ride this Saturday, August 8th at 10am meeting at Ubuntu Research and Evaluation, 1950 MLK Dr. in Milwaukee.

EDITORIAL NOTE: I fully realize there will be some angry emails about how the Bike Fed is promoting an in-person group ride during a pandemic. I got 3 after the last time we included the first ride in an email blast. I realize there will be push back because some of you think “all lives matter”. 

Bike Fed staff believe that Black Lives Matter and unless all riders are treated equally and have access to safe riding conditions and supportive communities our job is not done. 

Bike Fed staff want to remind you, if you choose to go on the ride, to please wear a mask, use hand sanitizer, keep some physical distance between yourself and others. If you are inspired by this type of collective action we encourage you to consider supporting in any way you see fit and are comfortable with. 

Our mission is to build a better, more bike friendly Wisconsin, and that doesn’t just mean for some. It means for ALL our residents. We can not build a better Wisconsin unless we include and lift up those voices that have been overlooked and underserved for too long.

Read more here on Bicycling Magazine stories about biking while Black

Bicycling cannot solve systemic racism in the United States. But systemic racism can’t be fixed without tackling it within bicycling.

TamiKA BUTLER, Bicycling Magazine 2020