Sustainable Cycling For All? Race and Gender-Based Bicycling Inequalities in Portland, Oregon

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Amidst findings of increased bicycling in the United States, research continues to demonstrate that women and racial minorities are underrepresented as cyclists in the United States (Buehler and Pucher 2012). While quantitative data may reveal estimates of these disparities, we know little about the motivations or deterrents related to cycling as they are experienced by individuals. This article draws from 30 in‐depth interviews with women and people of color in Portland, Oregon to clarify ongoing barriers to bicycling that prevent those who own a bike (and are thus not limited strictly by economic barriers) from becoming more routine cyclists. Findings suggest that barriers for marginalized cyclists range from concerns about development and gentrification to overt racial and gender discrimination experienced while riding. These findings suggest that cycling mobilities are critically linked to intersecting and overlapping identities and those efforts to increase diversity in bike ridership must acknowledge the unique challenges experienced by marginalized groups. We conclude this article by offering suggestions from research participants regarding interventions that might reduce social barriers to biking.


© 2019 American Sociological Association



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