Davey Oil in front of his family cargo bike shop in Seattle. Photo by Josh Cohen.
If you ride bikes in Seattle, you likely know a bit about Davey Oil. As co-owner of the family cargo bike shop G&O Family Cyclery he’s played a critical role in Seattle’s family biking boom. As a longtime bike activist, he’s worked for and been involved in Bike Works, Cascade Bike Club, the Bikery, critical mass and more. Having straddled the fence between the radical activist side of the bike movement and the insider-politics advocacy side, he has a valuable perspective on the growth of cycling-as-transportation in the city. I sat down with him at a coffee shop next to the Family Cyclery for a wide ranging conversation about his roots in activism, the rise and fall (and re-rise and re-fall) of Seattle critical mass, the mainstreaming of bike politics locally and nationally, the advocacy world’s struggles with diversity, the family biking boom, and much more.
Posted in Advocacy, Bike Industry, Interviews
Tagged bike activism, bike equity, bike works, cargo bikes, cargo biking, cascade bike club, critical mass, cycletruck, davey oil, diversity in cycling, family bike boom, family biking, g&o family cyclery, longtail cargo bikes, seattle critical mass, seattle cycling, the bikery
Brook Negussie on the University of Washington campus. Photos courtesy Brook Negussie.
This year’s national Youth Bike Summit kicked off with short, TED Talk-esq presentations by advocates, industry execs, a former Olympic track racer and others. After the polished professional speakers had given their spiels, a young man named Brook Negussie stepped up to the podium to share his own powerful story. A 19-year old freshman at University of Washington, Negussie has immigrated to SeaTac, Washington from Ethiopia when he was 9. When he was in high school he got involved with the Major Taylor Project, a program run by Cascade Bicycle Club that brings bike clubs to under-served schools in the Seattle area. The kids in Major Taylor learn bike repair skills, go on after school rides, participate in bigger ride events and races, and more. [Read The Bicycle Story’s interview with Major Taylor Project founder Ed Ewing.]
Speaking to the crowd of youth and adult advocates at the Summit, Negussie credited the Major Taylor Project for giving him the skills and motivation necessary to tackle any challenge. I sat down with Negussie at a coffee shop near the UW campus to learn more about his experience immigrating to the U.S., the role bikes have played in his life, Major Taylor’s impact and more.
Slow Roll Chicago founders Jamal Julien (left) and Oboi Reed (right). Photo via actionhub.com.
Cycling saved Oboi Reed’s life. He has long suffered from depression and, in the darkest moments of a severe bout with the disease years ago, was contemplating suicide. Instead he went for a bike ride along Chicago’s Lakefront Trail. It wasn’t a magical cure. But the exercise, the natural environment, and the social connection to other cyclists helped put him on a path to recovery and sparked a deep love for cycling. Now Reed is working to spread that bicycle love throughout his city. He wants to live in a Chicago with safe bike infrastructure, ample bike resources, and bike share stations in every neighborhood; a Chicago where everyone can access cycling’s inherent health, environmental, and economic benefits regardless of race or class.
It’s a lofty goal. Currently, Chicago’s bike infrastructure is clustered predominantly in the city’s whiter, more affluent downtown and North Side neighborhoods. Reed says the city hasn’t made an equitable investment in bike infrastructure in the poorer, blacker South and West Side neighborhoods, which, in turn, discourages riding there. It’s a problem he’s working actively to fix. He co-founded Slow Roll Chicago and is involved with Red Bike & Green and South Side Critical Mass, organized rides focused on getting more people of color biking. Reed’s also increasingly been a part of Chicago’s bike politics. In December, he and a coalition of black bike advocates presented a letter to the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee demanding a public commitment from the city and state to invest an equal share in bike infrastructure, education, and bike share stations. I spoke to Reed about cycling’s positive impact on his depression, his foray into bike advocacy and organizing, perceptions of cycling in some black communities, fighting for bike equity in Chicago, and more.
Posted in Adventure, Uncategorized
Tagged bike equity, chicago critical mass, chicago cycling, eboni senai hawkins, grid chicago, jamal julien, mike mackool, oboi reed, red bike and green, slow ride chicago, slow ride detroit, steven vance