What LACBC’s Monique López Thinks About When She Rides Her Bike
What do you think about when you ride your bike? When you pound the pavement and engage area residents? When you have the privilege to sit in rarefied spaces discussing transportation?
Self-described transportation justice advocate Deputy Executive Director of Advocacy at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Monique López calls upon all of her senses. And keeps calling upon them.
Riding through Southeast Los Angeles, she told the crowd gathered for BUSted – “true stories about getting around L.A., told by people who don’t drive” this past September 1 – she feels the breezes of cars coming too close to her in areas where there is no infrastructure and is reminded of being hit by a car as an eight-year-old child. She is aware of the tightening of her lungs in response to the poor air quality along the river there. When she passes a vacant lot in South L.A., she is reminded of the way her family was displaced to make way for a project meant to improve her community that, 20 years on, has yet to arrive. When she passes a renovated home for sale on a walk with South L.A. residents to catalog complete streets needs, she absorbs the concerns they voice about the potential for any improvements to price them out of their community faster.
And when she sits in a meeting with elected officials and city planning staff, she is reminded of all of the folks that do not have the privilege of being there with her, and that they cannot afford for her make concessions that would compromise their well-being.
“From my legs, to my lungs, to vacant lots,” she says, “these are the things that remind me of my childhood [in an EJ (environmental justice) community]. But they also remind me of the poor decisions that a planner, a politician, and the privileged few have made and continue to make.”
See the video of her brief talk at BUSted, below.