Our staff are working on a draft Anti-Racism Plan to guide our work in the coming years. Here's our current draft.
2020-2022 WBN Plan to be Anti-Racist
As advocates for safe streets for all, Walk Bike Nashville recognizes that people’s experiences differ greatly on our streets based on the color of their skin. In order to ensure all Nashvillians can walk or bike safely in our streets, it is insufficient to simply address dangers posed by cars. We must also address how systemic racism impacts the safety of people of color in public space.
Like many U.S. cities, Nashville has a history of racist urban planning practices. Our history includes the implementation of zoning that limited housing near downtown, which disrupted existing communities of color and prevented certain neighborhoods from growing and prospering. Our history also includes decisions to locate unattractive infrastructure that pollutes the environment in communities of color -- like the placement of the interstate through North Nashville. These policies and practices were wrong, caused harm and left many people distrustful of Nashville’s urban planning efforts. In recent years, Metro departments have made decisions about our planning, whether intentional or unintentional, that resulted in unfair allocation of infrastructure resources and failed to address inequities created in the previous century.
Today, institutional racism pervades our streets. This racial injustice impacts which communities receive traffic safety improvements and which drivers police choose to stop. Black people are more likely to be killed in traffic crashes and also killed by police during routine or unjustified traffic stops. Communities of color also frequently suffer disproportionately from lack of sidewalks, lack of trees, disconnected street networks, and heavy traffic because of racist urban planning choices, leaving these communities to disportionately suffer from adverse health effects, including asthma, reduced lung function, and more.
Spurred by the current national conversation, we are more aware than ever that not being racist is not enough; we must be anti-racist. We must do more to address systemic racism in transportation and ensure our advocacy for safe streets does no harm.
This moment also demands we not only look around us to address racism, but also within our own organization.
Here are some steps we as a staff and board commit to within our organization:
Walk Bike Nashville will form intentional partnerships .
In our work we are often working with groups that are facing many simultaneous inequities, and we understand that many times our issues of mobility are seen as less urgent. We believe that access to a fair and equitable system of transportation is a right for all. We understand that when people are facing housing insecurity, unemployment, underemployment, systemic discrimination, and other issues, understandably mobility is moved down the urgency list, but is often connected to these other larger issues.
However, in order for WBN to do the long term work of community-led advocacy we need to be present and visible to identify points of alignment with other groups for long term work. For this reason, we feel it necessary to name building intentional partnerships with organizations and groups that might not be transportation focused but work with those who face mobility issues.
Walk Bike Nashville will introduce new programming and modify existing programming to incorporate anti-racist practices into our daily activities.
- Start and maintain a book club about Systemic Racism in Transportation for staff, board and members until Jan 2022 and then staff and board will make a decision on its purpose and effectiveness.
- Host quarterly conversations with members and supporters to discuss our programing and policy work and receive input from community members.
- Be intentional about who we invite to speak at our educational events and who we recommend for events hosted by others, including panels and forums, to ensure the voices presented are representative of the Nashville community.
- Expand language accessibility for Safe Routes to Schools work -- goal of speaking to 80% of students & families at focus schools.
- Assess all our current programing for deficit, issues, etc. during our 2021 planning
- Commit to deeper involvement with and investment in our two focus neighborhoods: North Nashville and Murfreesboro Pike.
- Support Black and POC Owned Businesses wherever we can.
Within our policy work, Walk Bike Nashville will be an ally to combat racism in how we plan and how we police our streets.
Traffic Enforcement and the Police
Develop and promote a recommended approach to de-emphasize enforcement within Vision Zero efforts, and identify and support alternative solutions to over-reliance on the use of armed cops for traffic enforcement.
- Host a Vision Zero Speaker Series webinar and consider other educational opportunities to discuss our recommended approach.
- Begin conversations and education in Nashville around best practices for automated enforcement (speed cameras). See this article.
- Advocate for funding for self-enforcing street designs (traffic calming etc)
- Oppose pedestrian enforcement tactics: until we have sufficient, safe pedestrian infrastructure it is inequitable and ineffective to actively enforce pedestrian laws.
- Aggressively advocate for the reduction of extensive police presence as a prerequisite for Open Streets.
Urban Planning Practices
- Conduct an audit of our advocacy priorities for anti-racism each year, assess whether they meet our antiracism goals, and adjust if necessary to ensure that they do.
- Actively advocate to ensure planning processes are representative of Nashville. Local communities and neighborhood leaders should have leadership of the street planning process, especially Black people, people in low-income communities, and people of color who have been left out of transportation decision-making or actively harmed through transportation projects for too long.
- Advocate for inclusion of racial and economic equity within all prioritization processes for traffic calming, sidewalks, and other active transportation investments. Assess current city prioritization methods in 2021, to determine whether they are racial and economically inclusive.
- Whenever we present data, highlight racial disparities we find and be attuned that data collection is at times flawed. An example to consider is relying on police reports for pedestrian crashes will not be as effective in communities where high distrust of the police occurs.
- Advocate for policies that support equitable deployment of micromobility, including deployment of shared scooters/bikes in communities of color and well-supported programs to help people of color access scooters/bikeshare.
Walk Bike Nashville will revamp our communications and communications systems to ensure we are speaking to all of Nashville.
- Analyze our current communication strategies to assess who we are targeting, if it reflects a racial diverse audience, and how to expand our messaging to be racially and linguistically inclusive.
- Be intentional about the content we share on our social channels (as well as through other means of communication) to ensure we are incorporating diverse perspectives into our communications with our members and supporters.
- Addressing language accessibility. Nashville is home to dozens of languages, we commit to expanding our most urgent communication to Spanish in 2021 and plan on reflecting on that process in Q4 of 2021 in order to expand to another language by 2022.
Walk Bike Nashville will structure itself to ensure we are prepared, empowered and equipped to be anti-racist.
- Host regular conversations among staff about race and white supremacy, particularly about experiences we have or learn of during our work.
- Establish an ethical demographic tracking system in our database. This will help us reflect on what communities we are resourcing and make the necessary adjustments in our programming to best reflect the demographics of our city
- Be willing to learn from our mistakes, be willing to call each other in, when needed, and establish HR guidelines that facilitate growth from mistakes.
- Support staff and voluntary board attendance of trainings about systemic racism training on a semi-annual basis until 2022. In 2022 WBN staff and board will reflect and adjust plan as necessary.
- Incorporate systemic racism educational opportunities into board meetings, board retreats and board events
Revise hiring processes to ensure that our staff reflects the communities we serve:
- Take the time and spend the money to intentionally ensure a diverse pool of candidates, if the pool of candidates is not reflective of Nashville demographics, staff and board will review the job description and make the necessary changes.
- Consider lived experience and ability to establish trust with communities of color when hiring, not just active transportation background or college degrees.
- Ensure we have resources necessary to provide adequate training and on-going support, so that staff from non-transportation backgrounds or from communities of color have the support they need to succeed.
Review Board Nominations Procedure and Board Agreement so that we can recruit a more diverse board, reflective of the diversity of the city. Set specific benchmarks for the increasing diversity of the board.
- Create a pipeline for BIPOC for board service through intentional training and investing in people.
- Establish a Board Committee to continue conversation that will lead to concrete steps about diversity and anti-racism within the board/staff and within our work.
- Ensure the update to our strategic plan currently underway, prioritizes efforts to address systemic racism and resource Black, indigenous and communities of color.
Background: Articles that inspired and influenced this document
- Mapping the Destruction of African American Neighborhoods in Tennessee
- People For Bikes Racial Justice Plan
- Cascade Bicycle Club: https://www.cascade.org/blog/2020/06/message-white-bicyclists
- Nashville Driving While Black Report
- We Must Talk About Race when we Talk about Bicycling, by Tamika Butler
- We Don't Need Cops to Enforce Traffic Laws
- ‘Safe Streets’ Are Not Safe for Black Lives
- Vision Zero Network on Racial Justice
- A Letter to White Urbanists
- Safe Routes to Schools Partnership about Dropping Enforcement E
- The Planners Guide to the Black Lives Movement
- A Tale of Two Truths: Transportation Nuance & Nuance in the Time of COVID-19
- The Untokening: Principles of Mobility Justice
- Whose Streets? Black Streets / Amina Yasin, Streetsblog USA
- A Call to Courage / Jay Pitter
- America's Cities Were Designed to Oppress / Bryan Lee Jr., City Lab
- How Do We Respond to Anti-Black Racism in Urbanist Practices and Conversations? / Canadian Urban Institute
- How to End Anti-Blackness in Cities / Alissa Walker, Curbed
- Jaywalking Laws Don’t Make Streets Safer