Interview Project Findings from Local Influencers and People who Bike

Multicultural Communities for Mobility (MCM) conducted ten interviews for the League of American Bicyclists in June with people in the community who regularly ride a bicycle (who will be referred to as cyclists only for brevity) and with people who are regarded as influencers and local leaders in policymaking and community organizing. This project is part of the League’s Equity Initiative.

MCM identified cyclists: people we have interacted with our programs in the past, were within reach in the communities we work in, and/or belong to groups who have been detached from mainstream and existing bicycle advocacy efforts. On the other hand, the influencers were sought out because they are key leaders whose work on many levels impacts the community members we serve and the cyclists we interviewed.

Findings from Cyclists:

Cyclists interviewed represent low-income, people of color, including people who identify as young parents, queer, and at-risk for gang violence at some point in their life. They all ride regularly and would be considered as avid bike commuters. They were asked about bike laws and have general knowledge and awareness of bike maintenance and light requirements. They shared their joys related to biking as well as their concerns, which centered on their disdain for distracted driving, disrespect from drivers, and uncertainty about what to do if they were hit.

One of the most memorable quotes was from Big C about drivers, “They see us but then they don’t see us.”

The cyclists were also asked about their sources of medical care, which ranged from preferring home remedies to having a primary care doctor available to them. While biking has risks for them, they talked about its value for their independence, well-being, connected to their environment, and economic benefits.

Good air quality and the presence of green space, bike infrastructure, affordable and quality housing, and better jobs and better wages are tied to community health.

Another major issue is law enforcement, criminalizing low-income people of color and those who are vulnerable on a bicycle or riding public transportation.


Findings from Influencers:

Influencers working in different sectors had public health related priorities in common. According to the influencers, there is a need for collaboration, coordinated efforts, and non-traditional partnerships to create progress.

In Los Angeles, our low-income communities are burdened by chronic diseases and increased risk for car-related injuries and deaths. It’s critical to take on structural changes; address social determinants and recognize the role of the built environment and policies affecting community health rather than solely focusing on individual choices or genetics. Good air quality and the presence of green space, bike infrastructure, affordable and quality housing, and better jobs and fair wages are tied to community health. A commitment to Vision Zero and action to move toward zero deaths is a step in the right direction. There is a need for political will and elected officials to champion these causes, to make the right decisions in favor of health for all and for the lives of those who walk and bike. While the pending bike share system is causing a buzz around the thriving Downtown area, there are major concerns about other bike-related issues left untouched and lacking attention from transportation agencies.

Equity remains an issue. Better serving those who already bike as a necessity is just as important as getting more people to bike. Another major issue is law enforcement, criminalizing low-income people of color and those who are vulnerable on a bicycle or riding public transportation. The prison industrial complex and the school-to-prison pipeline are major concerns. Providing a quality education and engaging youth to shape and lead their communities is essential to creating a better present and future Los Angeles.

The findings, along with a power map, were presented on July 16, 2015, in Minneapolis at the National Brotherhood of Cyclists Conference at the session: “The League of American Bicyclists Equity Advisory Council Project: Equity in Motion.”

This research project was sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists as part of their Equity initiative. Members of the Equity Advisory Council and invited consultants from six cities across the United States will present research from interviews and power mapping projects to uncover new perspectives on the power dynamics involved in bicycle advocacy.

Tweets from the event:

More tweets: #NBCMPLS

Los Angeles Issues and Highlights

  • Criminalization of low-income people riding bicycles and using public transportation
  • Prison industrial complex
  • Gentrification
  • Police brutality
  • Inequities related to bike programs and infrastructure (bike share, bike lanes, etc.)
  • Legal issues and resources for people
  • Physical safety when biking
  • Vision Zero
  • Medical coverage and costs
  • Air quality
  • Sustainability
  • Placemaking
  • Strength of communities
  • Access to bicycles
  • Access to bicycle infrastructure
  • Competition between active transportation and car use
  • Stigma of riding bicycles
  • Narrow and limited participation in advocacy
  • Need for broadening participation through groups outside of traditional active transportation advocates
  • Perception of bicycle as an interest of only a minority of the population
  • Land use and affordable housing
  • Bikesharing
  • Engineering, and “engineering as 24-hour enforcement”
  • Absence of data/research
  • Identifying high-need cities/neighborhoods to receive funds to improve health
  • Elimination of or lack of green spaces
  • Cities with high-need and low-income residents negatively affected by corruption
  • Housing costs, displacement, and long commutes
  • More coordinated efforts between county health and cities
  • Empowerment as additional League “E”
  • Wage theft
  • Mental health
  • Image of typical cyclist and more diverse image of actual cyclist
  • Bike theft
  • Disregard for 3-foot Law
  • Bicycles for independence and experiencing surroundings
  • Distracted driving
  • Holistic wellness methods versus commercialized health care
  • Riding bicycles to deter people from gang involvement
  • Bike clubs as a positive activity
  • Religion
  • Spirituality
  • Acquiring bicycles as a gift from friends, supporters, family members
  • Infrequent bus schedules as an inconvenience
  • Sidewalk riding due to terrifying street conditions
  • Mobility and safety concerns for queer and trans people higher when walking than when biking
  • Street harassment and assault
  • Theft
  • Need for driver education
  • Driving under the influence
  • Institutional racism
  • Classicism
  • Autonomy and superhero feeling when biking
  • Good feelings associated with riding a bicycle and the physical benefits of biking
  • Bicycle is economical
  • Respiratory concerns related to biking due to pollutants and vehicle emissions
  • Medicaid program (Medi-Cal) coverage for low-income residents
  • LGBT health center for primary care
  • Uncertainty about medical care if hit by a car
  • Respect on the street among all road users
  • Stress on the road
  • Car sharing and carpooling as alternatives when needed
  • Literacy
  • Violence in communities
  • Pot holes
  • Challenges of riding public transportation with young children
  • Social element of riding bicycles with others

MCM Boyle Heights Promotores

Boyle Heights Promotores Program:

Multicultural Communities for Mobility led a bike advocacy campaign in the fall of 2014, focusing on the proposed bike lanes in Boyle Heights on Boyle and Soto. Using the promotores model of organizing, project leaders Rio Contreras and Maryann Aguirre recruited advocates from within the community. The project included a survey of the community’s bike/ped needs, a much needed conversation on gentrification and how bike lanes do or not contribute, and a bici paseo that recruited local bike-friendly businesses to show their support.

The team created a space for the local community to engage in conversations on the importance of cyclist and pedestrian safety, issues experienced by cyclists in Boyle Heights daily, health and socio-economic inequities, and the very real problem of looming gentrification.

This is only the beginning of the conversation in Boyle Heights, but we hope this video helps organizations and groups across the state and the country better understand how to engage, work with and empower communities of color to speak for themselves.

Special thank you to CalBike for supporting this program.

Gathering Community Support:

The team had posters made with images of people that represent the community to demonstrate the diversity of cyclists within the neighborhoods; from abuelas to small businesses – why shouldn’t their voice be represented in the decision-making conversations? As the City of Los Angeles hosts meetings to get public feedback on the proposed bike lanes across the city, how can we make sure the young women, the youth, and the abuelos are at the table?

These were posted on store fronts throughout Boyle Heights. The back of each poster lists conditions for city and county planners to take into consideration, including infrastructure that better supports cyclists an pedestrians, access to free or low-cost bike safety education classes, diversion programs for first-time bike law offenders, and more. Please click HERE to see our list of bike-friendly businesses in the area. Show them some love by stopping by – buy a cup of coffee and pan dulce, get your hair done, or finally get that tattoo you’ve always wanted!


Women Bike, Women Lead

Women Bike, Women Lead: A social conference for women transforming their communities through bikes

By the end of the event series and pilot program, participants completed two bike rides and were given the opportunity to attend local summit for a group of 30 to discuss issues related to biking in Los Angeles and the projects, leadership, funding, collaboration, and people-power needed to make the city better for people who bike.

Multicultural Communities for Mobility (MCM) and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) reached those who are new to biking and bicycle advocacy. With the support of a large group, women navigated their very first ride on the streets with ease. The Los Angeles ride was also featured in a music video from Las Cafeteras. At the summit, many were engaged in their first in-depth discussion about bicycling and gender, equity, policy, and media through the panelists and small group activities. See the Storify recap by LACBC here.

The organizers thank the League of American Bicyclists Women Bike Program for launching this program. Other contributions include event space from Community Partners, food from Chipotle and KIND Snacks, gear from Timbuk2, and donations from community members. Women Bike, Women Lead is exploring options and directions for this program. Stay tuned!

Photo by David Koo.

Los Angeles Ride featured in Las Cafeteras “Mujer Soy” Music Video. Photo by David Koo.

Photo by David Koo.

La Verne Ride. Photo by David Koo.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and Multicultural Communities for Mobility (MCM) are partnering on a women-led series of bike rides and workshops from January to April 2015 designed to encourage women to build their networks and grow their capacity for transforming their communities through active transportation, namely biking.

The Women Bike, Women Lead series is also dedicated to empowering women to expand personal and professional goals related to active transportation, especially for those who are new to advocacy and community mobilization.

The bike rides and workshops are provided at no cost and reserved for women-identified participants.

Presenters at the Women Bike, Women Lead Summit

Presenters at the Women Bike, Women Lead Summit

Women Bike, Women Lead Summit Agenda

  • 9:30 am Registration and Morning Snacks
  • 10:00 am Opening Introductions by organizers Daniella Alcedo and Maria Sipin
  • 10:30 am Activity
  • 11:00 am Panel: Community health and equity with Tamika Butler, LACBC; Vanessa Gray, CICLE; Rio Contreras, MCM
  • 12:00 pm Panel: Local policy and planning with Rubina Ghazarian, LA City, and Avital Shavit, Metro
  • 12:45 pm Lunch and Exhibits
  • 1:30 pm Media and Marketing with Melissa Balmer and Kellie Morris, Pedal Love
  • 2:30 pm Activity
  • 3:00 pm Closing
  • 3:30 pm Social bike ride with Daniella Alcedo, Women Talk Bikes

The Women Bike, Women Lead series is funded by the League of American Bicyclist’s Women Bike Mini-Grant Program with support from LACBC and MCM. Thank you to Community Partners for the venue and Timbuk2 Venice Store for your sponsorship.


  • Saturday, January 24, 2015 @ 11am – 2pm – Pomona Valley Ride: La Verne to Bonelli Park, San Dimas (free)
  • Saturday, February 21, 2015 @ 10am – 2pm – Los Angeles Ride: Downtown LA to South LA (free)
  • Saturday, April 18, 2015 @ 9:30am – 3:30pm – Community Partners at California Endowment Building, Los Angeles

Donations and drawings:

Donate to be entered in a drawing for this custom design by MCM

Donate to be entered in a drawing for this custom design by MCM

Bags sponsored by Timbuk2 Venice Store.

Bike ride in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 21st. Meeting place: Downtown Los Angeles between City Hall and Grand Park on Spring Street.

Bike ride in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 21st. Meeting place: Downtown Los Angeles between City Hall and Grand Park on Spring Street.

Women Bike, Women Lead

1.24.15 – The first bike ride in the Women Bike, Women Lead series of events hosted by MCM and LACBC. Art by Yessica M. Avila.

This series is organized by Daniella Alcedo, founder of Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and Maria Sipin, advisory board member (MCM)– two women who have spent the past few years engaged in active transportation-related work and believe in the value of making educational opportunities and mentorship accessible to women and young professionals.

For more information regarding this media release, please contact Maria Sipin, maria (at) multicultimobility (dot) org.