Cultural Differences or Systematic Divides

I found myself stranded downtown Chicago a measly, yet, 1.5 miles away from my automobile. I was celebrating with friends having drinks and singing karaoke, and before I knew it time had flown past. Dagnabit I thought to myself, now I have to walk my ass to my car and I wasn’t looking forward to it; although it was a very pleasant August evening. I was too cheap to grab a cab and too annoyed to walk. And when I looked around at my surroundings deciding my course of action I noticed the blue and white sparkling Divvy® bike rack awaiting me. Light bulb moment, “hey, I’ll take a bike!”

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This blog is not an advertisement for Divvy® or its sponsoring company. This blog is not meant to increase ridership of the bikes or to claim how health conscious I am (which I am not). Nor is it an exploration of how these bikes became so popular in my fair city or in a neighborhood near you. Incidentally, are these bikes as popular in other parts of the country and world? Feel free to educate me.

What I noticed about these bikes is there are not as many blacks or Hispanics casually riding these bikes between convenient locations throughout the city during their hectic days. As a matter of fact, this was my first time riding the bike. And it dawned on me that I was the only African-American on a bike riding through downtown Chicago to my destination; granted it was later in the evening but there were plenty of others out on a beautiful summer night.

I was thankful for this mode of transportation when I needed it. It was easy to use and it saved me a few bucks from taking a cab. Now I can use these bikes throughout the city and make my stops and get in shape at the same time. However, there is one problem – certain neighborhoods do not have the bikes. So what gives?

Maybe the bikes wouldn’t stand a chance from theft in these not-so-desirable locations. Or maybe the citizens in these areas don’t have aspirations to ride the bikes. The bikes are cheaper than cabs but they do cost and I am talking about areas where many folks do not have much disposable income. Maybe the company isn’t marketing the bikes in these locations because of preconceived ideas (judging) about what the people in these markets want. It is a sad commentary on how our cultures differ on something as innocent as bike riding.

I do know some African-Americans and Hispanics that ride the bikes all the time. I’m sure some of my readers and friends will vehemently disagree with me, stating, “Hey I’m black and I ride the bikes!” However, most of these individual riders are in neighborhoods where bikes are located. It is very obvious when riding through the city where holes exist in providing bikes.

I hope to teach my kids that this is a nice transportation alternative. I expect others will continue to migrate towards this decent way of travel. I recognize there are some cultural differences in acceptance of the communal bikes. I hope certain communities can positively influence good ideas to other communities and allow folks to take advantage of these opportunities. It was an exhilarating feeling to ride my Divvy® bike through the city with the wind blowing in my face on a wonderful mid-summer night. Everyone should have the chance to experience this feeling.

Go well and with love good peeps.

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