Home > Going off topic > Racial Profiling for Fun and Profit

Racial Profiling for Fun and Profit

Attending the Blue Ridge Breakaway gave me the opportunity to take a quick gander at a large sample of the population of cyclists in our area.  I was shocked and amazed to see that most of us are still white.  We were mostly white at the Tour de Franklin, Tour de Cashiers and way back in the days of the Tour de Tuck, we were white then too.  We were mostly white at the Savanna Century and even in the culturally diverse Big Apple’s 5 Boro Bike Tour, we were overwhelmingly white.  I’ve been involved in a few gear intensive adventure sports throughout my life; from SCUBA diving to skydiving.  And there too, we were mostly white people.

So I have to ask, why are we so white?  Is it culture or socioeconomics?  Or am I wrong?  Is it just a matter of geography and I have a ‘southern view’ of cycling? (Although, like I said, we seemed pretty white at the NY 5-Boro too).  My wife, (full discloser here: She’s not white) has noticed this as well.

Why does it matter?

I would like our sport to be more racially and culturally diverse for purely selfish reasons.  We enrich our lives when we share it with a more diverse group.  We expand our minds when we challenge our unhealthy thinking styles of ‘Labeling, Generalizing and All-or-Nothing’ thinking.  As in “those people do that all the time” or “those people never do this”.

Any thoughts? Has anyone else noticed this?  Is this a problem?  How could we make the sport more welcoming to encourage a more diverse group to take up cycling?

Categories: Going off topic
  1. August 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Gosh Jack, I’m trying to get more folks from “the rez” into the sport! Wish me luck!

  2. The Velo Hobo
    August 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    The Cherokee Riders rock!!!

    You’ve got one of the most beautiful places on the planet to ride as well. The GSMNP and the BRP right there at your backdoor. Selling cycling in the mountains is a hard sell I’m sure…”you want me to ride a bicycle up that!?!”

    Best of luck growing the group, Jack

  3. August 21, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    i have also noticed this…
    i only have seen white cyclist …
    and i have been on a bicycle going way back to the mid 1950`s

    • The Velo Hobo
      August 21, 2012 at 6:09 pm

      Thanks for the comment Conifir, I’ve noticed a very slow growth in diversity. The number of women cyclists has grown alot since I started doing organized rides in the 80’s. On this last ride women riders seemed to close to the 50% mark…but that’s just a guess. I should ask Zeke if they keep demographic information. It would be an interesting thing to track over the years.

  4. Frank
    August 21, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Yes. I have noticed it. I rode in this year’s Bike Virginia. There were 1,800 riders there and I think all but 5 to 10 were white. Maybe 5 African-Americans.

    • The Velo Hobo
      August 22, 2012 at 6:27 am

      The 2012 census has 72% of people idnetifying as caucasian. So you’d think if cycling were an equal mix of our population, over a quarter of our population (the cycling population) would be ‘other than caucasian’.

      I know we need to be careful when just guessing how someone identifies, but I think It’s worth someone in the industry studying and then efforts to encourage more diversity were made…I have no idea who or how. Maybe if one of the glossy magazines, like Bicycle Magazine, would feature more non-caucasians in their photos, a more diverse group would grow.

      Thanks for the comment Frank.

  5. Tor
    August 31, 2012 at 6:46 am

    I live in a large urban environment (Houston, TX) and in a predominantly African-American neighborhood. I see all kinds of other-than-Caucasian riders all over the place. Mostly I see people using bikes for transportation and for recreation. Having never been on a tour or a big organized ride, I can’t speak to those types of riders.

    Interestingly enough, in Houston, as a white male, I’m a minority! lol

    • The Velo Hobo
      August 31, 2012 at 10:21 am

      It could be I just have a southern exposure to cycling (is Houston considered ‘south’ or ‘west’?). I think in our area we are decidedly racially unbalanced. I’m happy to see that female to male ratio improving though.

      Thanks for the comment Tor, Jack

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