Commitment to Anti-Racism

Cascade's Commitment to Anti-Racism

Cascade is deeply invested in our vision of a safe and healthy future where bicycles unite people, eliminate inequity, and create thriving communities. To realize that goal, we have work to do in Washington state and nationwide to make bicycling accessible and safe for everyone, regardless of their skin color. Cascade and our sister organization, Washington Bikes, stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and oppose police brutality. Dismantling white supremacy in our work and in our community must be at the forefront of everything we do. Our organization has committed to PDF icon a Racial Equity Plan, approved by the Board of Directors in April of 2020, that reaffirms our commitment to eliminating racial inequities in our culture, policies, and practices. We are dedicated to working with our community and partners to overcome the vast  impacts of systemic racism within our organization and in bicycling more broadly. Much work remains. 

This page is a document to share our work as we continue to grow and learn on this racial equity journey. Please refer to this glossary of terms used or the online guide from Racial Equity Tools when leaning in and learning about race and racism.

Why Anti-Racism in Bicycling Matters

At Cascade, we work daily toward a mission of bringing people together to experience the joy of bicycling, collaborating to advocate for a  safe and equitable Washington, and building confidence and community by teaching bike skills to all. But we must also confront the reality that our streets are not truly safe for everyone and we have not done enough to equitably protect the lives of Black and Brown people on our streets, bicycling or otherwise. As former Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Tamika Butler said, “Bicycling cannot solve systemic racism in the United States. But systemic racism can’t be fixed without tackling it within bicycling.” As our racial equity plan makes clear, Cascade is committed to transforming from being a bicycling club working to diversify itself to one that, through bicycling, works to eliminate inequities in community health outcomes and in mobility and transportation access. 

In other words, we believe deep systems changes are needed to make our streets safe for everyone, and that undoing racist harms must happen in every aspect of our work. e We know from the data and from our community’s stories that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color experience bicycling differently. We believe we must actively fight systems of oppression and inequality if we hope to meaningfully contribute to the movement for Black lives. To do anything less would perpetuate these same systems and further harm Black and Brown people, on and off the bike.

What's Next

Cascade has been actively working on our PDF icon Racial Equity Plan for several years that guides us toward several racial equity outcomes we seek to achieve -- and we acknowledge that we have more work to do both in our organization and with the broader community. However, we are excited and energized by the work we are doing, including:

  • Working with the King County Helmet Law Working Group to decriminalize helmet usage and minimize unnecessary contact between police and people who bike in King County, as Black, Indigenous, and Latinx riders, as well as people experiencing homelessness, are more likely to face citations for not wearing a helmet than white riders.

  • Amplifying the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color  organizations, such as Peace Peloton and Northstar Cycling Club.

  • Creating  a racial equity toolkit, which we use to run new and current programs through in order to analyze how outcomes impact equity and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. This toolkit has been used to review our Washington Bikes affiliate’s endorsement process, our Executive Director job description, our Advocacy Leadership Institue, and the staff and board that were with Cascade in 2020 have received training on how to implement it. 

  • Establishing workplace culture, workplace equity, and toolkit subcommittees of our Racial Equity Committee. 

  • The workplace culture committee is working to cultivate a workplace culture that values equity and diversity through the development of a process that amplifies the needs of staff of color and which provides a safe and secure way to talk about race and racism within Cascade. Among its objectives, we have held an anonymous culture survey and have had a standing conversation about race at our weekly staff meeting where we discuss how Cascade’s work directly impacts equity. These conversations have included a discussion on why we made the decision to not disrupt the Indianola community with the route of the Kitsap Color Classic, a conversation on Cascade's new climate justice value, and more.

  • The workplace equity committee is working to achieve racial equity in internal recruitment, hiring, contracting, and onboarding/advancement methods through the elimination of implicit or explicit bias. It has reviewed our staff handbook, our employee performance evaluation, and the Equal Opportunity statement in our job descriptions, and meets with HR on an ongoing basis to evaluate hiring practices. It has also developed a code of conduct and grievance policy for all Cascade riders and events participants.

Though much of this work is internal, the toolkit requires us to reach out to external advisors and supporters to provide feedback on whether we hit the mark, and to review new and existing policies, practices, and programs through it to ensure we achieve racial equity by centering communities of color. 

How Can I Help?

There are many ways Cascade members, volunteers, partners, and supporters can advance racial equity, both within bicycling and in their communities. 

  • Follow Black, Indigenous, and People of Color leaders who have organized, researched, and worked on these issues for a long time. We made a list of folks we recommend here. 
  • Read more about how to be a good ally. Make sure newcomers on Free Group Rides or in other Cascade spaces feel welcome and part of the group. Believe people when they say they experienced racism while biking. 
  • If you are white, don’t expect Black or Brown people to educate you or to give you a pat on the back for your progress. Examine your internal biases and explore what being anti-racist means. 
  • Research local Black-led organizations and sign on to support them, donate to them, or engage with them. Here are a few we recommend.
  • Support Cascade's Major Taylor Project and help build leadership skills and bike knowledge in youth from underserved communities. 
  • If you attend a panel on bicycling, a bicycling event, or another space, lift up the voices of people of color in the room, or call out the fact that they are missing if none are present. 
  • Keep learning. Read the Bicycling magazine issue with 14 stories from Black people who love bikes. Also, the Seattle Public Library put together a powerful toolkit for anti-racism allies. Check it out here.
  • If you see harassment on a ride or at an event, here are some resources for de-escalation tactics:
    • KUOW - Seattle Now: How to be an active bystander (audio only) with Abdul Omar, Assistant Ombud with City of Seattle: (starts at about 1:00) [Covers fight/flight/freeze; bystander effect; 4 courses of action -- Direct, Delay, Distract, Delegate; Document. Align self with the target. Don’t be a superhero, just be a human being.]

    • NW Asian Weekly - Bystander intervention and how to combat harassment [Covers the 5 D’s: Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, and Direct]


Originally posted: 11/25/20
Updated on: 10/19/21

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