Guest blog post by Dayna Chandler, chapter leader at Black Girls Do Bike in Des Moines, Iowa.
This guest column was originally published in IEC’s Blog – Iowa Environmental Voice on 2/4/21.
Transit Equity Day proclaims that we all have the right to accessible modes of transportation throughout our community, regardless of what we look like, what side of town we are from, or how much money we have. This day reminds me of the sacrifices that those before us made, for the benefit of citizens who have been, and continue to be systematically marginalized today.
Transit Equity Day honors Rosa Parks and her heroic act, which forced the examination of fairness around the practices of transit during the Civil Rights Movement. Without this intentional moment in history, where would we be? The day Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat was the inception of transit equity, which is also racial equity. That monumental moment not only created space for how my family moved around our small town in the early 1970’s, but also created space for multimodal ways of traveling. As the “Shero” for the Des Moines chapter of Black Girls Do Bike, I experience the weight and joy of this moment on each bike ride whether alone or in a group.
In my family’s small town, we walked or biked everywhere to take care of daily tasks. There were occasions when we took the city bus, and on very rare occasions, my grandmother would drive. When I reflect on how she would make the decision to move us around town, the memory of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and what it meant for black mobility during that time is not lost.
In her decision, my grandmother considered the financial and emotional cost, location, time, opportunities, accessibility, and the sheer strategy of our movements for each day. She had a plan, and it was executed regardless of any barriers. Is this not our charge on Transit Equity Day? To continue what has already been laid out before us. To intentionally plan and work to remove the disparities so that people are able to actively interact and engage with their communities. To seek and secure meaningful employment and educational opportunities and for the complete ability to move freely with comfort to their destination.
This responsibility is critical. The examination of state transportation plans must continue. Leaders must mine out the disparities existing in said plans while advocating for fair and transparent processes. IEC is an advocate in this work, with such efforts as having provided comments last fall on the Iowa DOT’s Public Transit Long-range plan to encourage access and fairness. These elements should never be overlooked. That is why we celebrate Transportation Equity Day, a day of action and commemorating the work that has been done and that is yet to be completed. Black Girls Do Bike Des Moines recognizes the importance of our involvement in these multiple days of action and hopes the community takes time to participate in the events over the next few days and beyond.
The existence of Transit Equity Day is a testament to the dedicated work of all individuals who fight tirelessly to keep civil rights at the forefront of what we do collectively. Join in the celebration and learn ways to take action.
About the Author
Dayna Chandler leads the Des Moines chapter of Black Girls Do Bike and has worked with the Des Moines Public Schools as a SUCCESS Case Manager since 1998. She is a passionate advocate for education, outdoor recreation, and the health and well-being of all individuals. Her plan is to help increase diversity in cycling while supporting sustainable plans that promote communities to thrive.