Sidewalk cycling tickets issued more often in Chicago's Black and Latino neighborhoods: research

Sidewalk cycling tickets issued more often in Chicago's Black and Latino neighborhoods: research

A study of bike ticketing practices in Chicago found that despite reduced overall ticket rates, more sidewalk cycling tickets were issued in Black and Latino communities.

The study, published in September, showed that cyclists in mostly Black neighborhoods were ticketed for cycling on the sidewalk at eight times the rate of those in white communities between 2017 and 2019. Predominantly Latino neighborhoods saw three times more ticketing than white areas during that time, according to The Chicago Tribune. 

Cycling on the sidewalk made up 90 percent of the bike-related tickets in the study, the Tribune reported. 

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In addition to citing the benefits of cycling in terms of physical health as well as a mode of transit to jobs, the study from the University of California – Davis also discussed Chicago's unequal distribution of bike lanes and resources as Black and Latino neighborhoods typically have less bike lanes or biking infrastructure. 

"In neighborhoods where there’s a lot of policing going on, one more excuse to stop people is the fact that they’re riding their bike on the sidewalk where there’s no bike lane," Jesus Barajas, an assistant professor at UC Davis who helped write the report, said to the Tribune. 

Olatunji Oboi Reed – president and CEO of Equiticity, a Chicago-based racial equity group that was involved with the study – noted the "role for cycling to play in improving our neighborhoods."

"And when these types of inequities are in existence, from lack of infrastructure in our neighborhoods to enforcement inequities by [the Chicago Police Department], they serve as a dampening effect on more Black and brown people turning to bikes as a form of travel, as a form of recreation, as a form of physical fitness," Reed said to the Tribune. 

These findings were consistent with a 2017 Chicago Tribune study that showed the police gave citations to people in Black communities more than twice as often as they did in white or Latino areas.

"The Chicago Police Department is committed to treating all individuals with fairness and respect," spokesman Tom Ahern of the Chicago Police Department said to the Tribune regarding the September study. "CPD works with residents in our communities to identify areas where bicyclist and vehicular traffic safety could be improved. We do not target individuals based on race or community."

The Tribune reported that the city has said it would be adding and upgrading 100 miles of bike lanes in 2021 and 2022, including nearly 60 miles in the city's more racially diverse South Side. 

The Hill has reached out to the Chicago Police Department and Equiticity for comment.