Mobility and urban design are essential to our freedom. They impact our ability to access the essential resources that we need. While mobility and urban design can be liberating, for people of color, mobility and our urban spaces have been a source of anxiety, police and traffic violence, and extraction. Many of the experiences that Black folks endure while traveling are a result of racist urban planning and transportation policies like redlining and urban renewal. These policies shaped our physical environments and also impacted how and where we traveled and moved.
For example, Robert Moses, a white urban and transportation planner, was notorious for perpetuating infrastructure racism, by restricting the movement of people of color through the built environment like the removal of Humboldt Parkway for Route 33. The legacy of Moses’ devaluation of communities of color and Black mobility live on, and can be seen in the fabric of our sidewalks, streets, parks, the makeup of the urban and transportation planning profession, and the modern day policies and processes that perpetuate a legacy of racism and colonization.
We must acknowledge these racist histories and decolonize the process of urban design and transportation in WNY. Colored Girls Bike Too is launching a new campaign called “Decolonize Mobility and Urban Spaces.” We are holding a direct action at a community engagement event called “Buffalo’s Sustainable Mobility Future” on May 2, 2022. Organizations will be requesting community feedback on a predetermined $10 million proposal to bring clean transportation solutions to Buffalo’s East side.
While we support the need for clean transportation solutions on the East side, we are opposed to “solutions” that do not prioritize the most urgent needs of the community. The $10 million proposal is rooted in inequitable community engagement and funding procurement practices that are in conflict with the most urgent needs of East Side residents, and seeks to use $3 million for greenways that do not fix fundamental problems. The proposal:
- Calls for solutions that fail to offer opportunities for community/POC owned and controlled modes, like e-bikes or electric cars
- Fails to provide capacity-building resources for POC-led mobility-focused organizations and businesses that work to create culture change around clean transportation options
- Fails to present a sustainable model to generate wealth in communities of color
The proposal’s priorities are in direct contradiction to the most important issues that need to be addressed on the East side of Buffalo, according to a recent study by Dr. Henry-Louis Taylor, The Harder We Run – The State of Black Buffalo in 1990 and the Present. Those priorities include development and design of neighborhood streets, sidewalk and street repair, and investment in green infrastructure on neighborhood streets.
Join us as we disrupt systems that perpetuate harmful and eurocentric urban development and transportation projects in communities of color in the name of profit and power. We will be exploring alternative equitable solutions around clean transportation, and also providing resources for the community to help them navigate the urban and transportation planning and development process.
Colored Girls Bike Too, Inc., is a Black-woman led 501(c)(3) public charity that promotes free, fearless and fair mobility options. Find us on Instagram @coloredgirlsbiketoo.
Buffalo’s Sustainable Mobility Future
When: May 2, 2022, at 3:00 pm
Where: Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, 640 Ellicott Street