As bicyclists, it can be easy to assume that what we do is simple and accessible. Many of us grow up cycling – we have access to the proper resources from a young age, and it becomes integrated easily into our lives. When something becomes second nature, it can feel like our experience is universal.
Unfortunately, not everyone can relate. Finances, infrastructure and disability are just a few of the factors that may make it harder for someone to bicycle easily in their day-to-day life. The demographic of people who identify as avid cyclists is relatively narrow in race, class, and ability. We recognize this as an organization, and we want to actively take part in welcoming all to participate in bicycling.
This past August, LMB put out a call for proposals, seeking “an experienced DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) Consultant to help implement policies, practices, programs, benchmarks, and organizational behaviors that foster authentic diversity, equity, and inclusion within LMB.” After reviewing many strong responses, the LMB board selected Detroit Roots to Rise as its year-long partner. In the last few months, LMB board and staff members have gathered over Zoom meetings to open up about topics such as inequity, discrimination, and representation within the cycling community.
“[Roots to Rise Detroit] aims to serve small businesses and community focused organizations thoughtfully connect to their desired audiences through meaningful and creative engagement, project management, and communications.” Kelsey Hubbell, co-founder and CEO, describes herself as “a lifetime Detroiter, avid cyclist, and community organizer.” Her career includes work with Slow Roll Detroit, MoGo Detroit Bike Share, Open Streets Detroit, The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, and more.
Tracy Evans, advocate and consultant, is also a leading voice in Detroit’s DEI sector and founder of the It’s Not Right Movement. For him, Roots to Rise means helping people grow in understanding for individuals from different backgrounds, and recognizing the aspects of our lives that we often take for granted.
“[Kelsey and I] put our minds together and realized that we should be helping others in this,” Evans said. “We would always have these conversations about race and equity, and the quality of those conversations was so good that we felt we should be spreading them to others.”
Kelsey and Tracy have led discussions among board members and staff about accessibility and structural issues within the cycling community. Board and team members have opened up about biases they notice among cyclists, and considered ways to better LMB as an organization, as well as the cycling community as a whole.
“One of the things we really hope to do is just spread more awareness and get humans to really understand the different levels of biking,” Evans said. “We can very easily get caught in our own world of what we do with cycling.”
According to Evans, the conversations happening among board and staff members are critical, but cannot stand in isolation. Further integrating diverse voices into the organization—the board, the team, and the member base—is the goal, so that LMB can continue to grow beyond the support of Roots to Rise.
“Eventually, we’d like [LMB] to extend some board seats to [marginalized] individuals. That way, LMB isn’t using Roots to Rise on a consistent basis to speak on behalf of individuals, but has individuals within these communities to actually talk about these things,” Evans said.
With the support of Roots to Rise, LMB is determined to keep taking steps towards furthering accessibility for all within our organization and the Michigan cycling community. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions regarding our work towards diversity, equity and inclusion, please feel free to reach out to our DEI Committee Chair, Melissa Werkman, at [email protected]
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