Statement and Reflection on Anti-Black Racism, Oppression and Equity at Cycle Toronto
June 16, 2020
This past week Cycle Toronto's Black board members convened our senior leadership to raise concerns about systemic racism and equity issues in Cycle Toronto. We reflected on experiences of microaggressions experienced by Black community members, equity and diversity in hiring practices, engagement with racialized communities, policing and safety on rides, and how our broader advocacy analysis does not adequately respond to the systemic issues faced by Indigenous Peoples, Black communities, and People of Colour.
We are grateful for these Black cycling advocates and leaders for continuing to work with us during a time of immense pain and grief within their communities, and apologize for not adequately responding to these issues when they have been raised in the past. We recognize this is not their role and we have a responsibility to understand these issues, our complicity in perpetuating systems of oppression, and identifying actions we can take.
As an organization we are taking pause to reflect on who we are and who we want to be. We acknowledge that we have not created safe and inclusive spaces for Black and racialized communities, Indigenous Peoples, and other marginalized groups and have not adequately centred their needs and experiences in the fight for improved cycling access and safer streets.
Cycle Toronto's mission is to create a healthy, safe and vibrant cycling city for all. This means the power to move freely and safely in public space. We now understand that this privilege is not experienced by Indigenous, Black, and racialized bodies. The murder of George Floyd and others and the worldwide protests they have sparked, have highlighted the particular dangers that Black and Indigenous people face on our streets. In Toronto, Black and Indigneous people are routinely harassed in public spaces under the guise of carding and “public safety.” In 2018, Toronto police responded with 5 police cruisers because a Black man was cycling next to, but not in, a bike lane, something that is perfectly legal. Black people in Toronto are more likely to die at the hands of police. Black communities are disproportionately deprived of safe spaces, and these experiences are currently compounded by experiences of being disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent data in Toronto shows racialized communities have been hit hardest by the virus and neighbourhoods with larger Black populations report an even higher incidence of cases.
If we are truly committed to building a vision of safe streets for all, we need to be talking about these issues in our advocacy, creating safe and inclusive spaces for these communities in our work, and building a cycling infrastructure plan that reflects their needs and lived realities.
It is clear we have much to learn and we are likely to make mistakes, but we are committed to doing this work and taking action. As an organization committed to advocacy, education and encouragement, we see an opportunity to create a space for continued collective learning and listening on this issue. We want to remain transparent, accountable and active in the fight to tackle systemic racism and oppression. We encourage our members and broader cycling community to continue to challenge us and join us in this journey. We will maintain a growing list of resources available for us to educate ourselves and to share with our membership and supporters.
We understand many of you may have more questions than answers at this time. We also have questions that we need to grapple with as we attempt to make a meaningful change to how this organization engages with communities and does our work. As such, we have not included specific actions in this statement, not for a lack of commitment, but to ensure the changes Cycle Toronto makes are informed by broad engagement and collaboration with communities most deeply impacted. The seriousness of these issues warrants taking the time to fully understand our failures and the path forward.
We will continue to update our membership and followers as we work to address these issues going forward in our work.