02-19-2017  7:55 pm      •     

It would be an understatement to say bicycles get a lot of attention in this town. But the attention is mainly White attention, especially when it comes to hardcore bike commuters.

And the Community Cycling Center has set out to find out why.
Is it safety issues? Geography? Cost? Culture?
It's a little bit of each, says executive director Allison Graves (pictured at right). With the help from a Metro grant, the center reached out to 70 different individuals from a variety of community organizations. They arranged meetings with Somalis, Latinos and African Americans.
"The process is as important as what was learned," she told The Skanner News. "Because it was about building relationships with the community."
While the Community Cycling Center has focused on reaching out to underserved populations for years – such as the annual holiday bike drive and the create a commuter program – Graves said they are trying a slightly different approach to that old concept. By creating partnerships with other organizations, they want to be a "change organization and create a connected community." Their first partners in this endeavor are Hacienda CDC and the New Columbia housing project.
According to Mychal Tetteh (pictured at left), the center's bike shop manager, creating a broader community of cyclists has involved not making any generalizations about cultural barriers.
"For African Immigrants, even within Africa, issues that are preventing, say an Ethiopian woman from riding a bike, or feeling whether it's culturally appropriate for her to ride a bike, are going to be very different for an African American woman because of those pointed cultural differences," he said.
Many people see bikes as a symbol of poverty or gentrification. For others, helmets don't fit or look cool. And others simply never learned to ride.
Graves said she isn't out there trying to force anyone on a bike; many people of color are already riding. She also doesn't want to force the "bicycle lifestyle" on anyone, but wants to ensure people in different communities see this as a viable and empowering tool for transportation.
"Bicycles have become a lifestyle choice for a very small segment of the population and for other people, bikes are not desirable because they indicate poverty or any number of things," Graves said.
But bikes are more than just a cheap way to get around. They address some of the biggest community health challenges today: lack of physical activity and obesity.
The Community Cycling Center and the Northwest Health Foundation see the bike as one very powerful tool to address both these birds with one eco-friendly stone.
Chris Palmedo, of the health foundation, says a grant facilitated through the foundation from Kaiser Permanente to the Community Cycling Center targets the health disparities of many minority populations.
While bicycling often gets billed as a way to address the environmental concerns of automobiles.
"But it's really a health issue," he said.
The foundation was established in 2004 to help corporations and others allocate money to address what Palmedo says are the "social determinants of health."
"The reality is, if you gave everyone health insurance, it's not going to make you healthier," he said. "Are you exercising? Are there grocery stores nearby? Is it safe to walk outside? Poverty is much more determinant of health."
The money the cycling center gets from the Kaiser Permanente fund helps continue the community sessions funded by Metro. It is designed to create collaborative programs and to create localized leaders who can work with the center to more ideally advocate for the needs in that community.
"We use the bicycle as a tool," says Graves. "and the common ground is around transportation and health equity. Because if your problem with community connectivity is that there isn't the type of infrastructure prevents you from active transportation, that has to be addressed. The way it can extend the quality of food options they have access to, is a strong selling point."
As the center enters the busier summer cycling center, they're planning on doing ever more to expand cycling and its appeal. The "I Ride" campaign aims to take as many testimonials and photographs of the diverse population of riders. And the Bike Mobile will be traveling to different locations around Portland to fix people's rides and provide information on bike safety, traffic laws and other helpful tips for riding.
"One of the great things that the 'I Ride' has shown to the whole Portland metro area," Tetteh says. "It's shown the real diversity of the cyclists on the road. This is showing that the bicycle is a tool and it's a tool that everyday people are utilizing, these are people you know and you see on a regular basis and they're not just with Lycra and with a bike that's two stories tall. It's everybody out there getting it done."




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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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