Cyclists Seeks to Normalize Black Ridership

Diverse group of bikers ride from Gordon Park (which they renamed) to the lakefront.

By - Sep 7th, 2020 09:52 am
Red Bike and Green Milwaukee Gordon Parks bike ride. Photo by John Harvie.

Red Bike and Green Milwaukee Gordon Parks bike ride. Photo by John Harvie.

A group of cyclists from Red Bike and Green Milwaukee rode from Gordon Park (2828 N. Humboldt Blvd.) to the Milwaukee Pierhead Lighthouse (on the lakefront east of the Summerfest grounds) with a message of diversity: to normalize ridership in Milwaukee’s Black community. They also commemorated Gordon Parks, an African American photojournalist and film director, by adding a paper letter “S” to end of the Gordon Park sign on the corner of N. Humboldt Blvd and E. Locust St.

Ras ‘Ammar Nsoroma, founder of Red Bike and Green’s Milwaukee chapter, said, “We started doing this five years ago, but I guess this takes on more significance now. With people making way for new, more conscious renaming of things. For a few hours during the year, the park becomes Gordon Parks.”

Though Red Bike and Green isn’t founded on activism, Nsoroma acknowledges the group’s gesture resonates with the anti-police brutality marches that have flooded the summer. “It’s almost like a revolutionary action,” he said.

Steven Hunter, a Red Bike and Green member who works in wellness and education, has bicycled with Nsoroma for almost 20 years. “Many times, we’ve had the experience we’re on the trail or biking and we’d get looked at funny,” he said, emphasizing the organization is about having a space of collective solidarity for people of color on bicycles.

Hunter said one challenge for introducing the Black community to biking is perception. “There’s still this stigma around that, if you’re riding a bike,” it means “you don’t have any money,” he said. “In time though, people of color will see a white person riding a bike to work” and think of that differently, he predicted.

“Some of the bike lanes need to be repainted,” Hunter said, listing the physical challenges of biking in Milwaukee. “Maybe we need more signage that helps drivers to be respectful to bike lanes and bikers.”

The cyclists made a few stops on their way to Pierhead Lighthouse – N. 2nd St. and E. Locust St., Reservoir Park and the North Point Lighthouse. At each location, Nsoroma explained the significance of each location.

In August, Red Bike and Green held a ride across the city to de-stigmatize mental illness in the Black community.

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Categories: Transportation

2 thoughts on “Cyclists Seeks to Normalize Black Ridership”

  1. Janine Chambers says:

    Is there a schedule of events for their rides? How can I get more info to participate?

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