Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the mobility of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in Los Angeles, particularly mothers in South Los Angeles. Mothers who relied on taking public transportation suddenly were waiting for less frequent, more crowded buses, thus increasing the risk for COVID-19 exposure. Furthermore, systemic disinvestments continued to harm mothers of color across the city including cracked sidewalks to walk strollers, and lack of protected bike lanes for recreational trips with kids.
Our partners East Side Riders Bike Club surveyed 23 mothers of Black and Latinx descent about how COVID-19 has affected their transportation needs. These surveys were taken between November 2020 and March 2021 (link to full survey here).
East Side Riders Bike Club (ESRBC) is a grassroots organization that was founded in 2008, based in Watts. East Side Riders Bike Club started as a small collective that rode around Watts, Florence-Firestone, and Compton distributing food and water to unhoused folks in the area.
The organization seeks to engage the community through a variety of activities including youth bike rides, which help kids to stay healthy and out of gang activity. ESRBC thus established a program called Life Lanes that ensured the safety of bike riders from gangs when riding through Watts. ESRBC hosts frequent group bike rides that give community members an opportunity to bike for free without having to purchase a bike or pay for equipment.
Furthermore, ESRBC hosts Bicycle Education and Safety Training Classes during summer, winter, and spring break for the community. After the classes are completed, students receive free helmets and lights.
Community is a central focal point of ESRBC. ESRBC often hosts barbecues and breakfast for the community. During COVID-19, ESRBC has served breakfast on weekdays for the Watts community. Currently, ESRBC has served over 240,000 meals since the COVID-19 pandemic began. You can donate to support the work of East Side Riders Bike Club here.
Out of the 23 mothers surveyed, 70% were Latinx and 30% were Black. Most mothers (57%) made under $25,000 a year, 74% of mothers were between the age of 30-45, and 39% of mothers learned Spanish as their first language.
We found that 83% of mothers surveyed used their cars as a primary mode of transportation, however 70% of mothers were not looking for or saving up for a new car. This suggests that car ownership, while necessary for day-to-day activities, is also potentially expensive with high costs for gas, insurance, and maintenance. 70% of mothers surveyed said that they knew other mothers that found high costs for purchasing a vehicle and insurance financially challenging.
Similar trends can be seen with primary modes of transportation among various trips. Over 65% of mothers drive their kids to preschool or grade school, 70% of mothers drive to the grocery store and to medical/dental appointments, and 65% of mothers surveyed drive for recreational trips. Recreation trips to the park, beach, museums, and visiting family had the most varied distribution, as 26% of mothers surveyed used the train and 22% of mothers used bikes as a primary mode of transportation. These numbers show potential that mothers surveyed would be open to alternative modes of transportation other than driving if a feasible option was available.
Mothers surveyed also responded to what transportation infrastructure improvements would greatly benefit them and their families. Out of the 23 respondents, 48% of mothers surveyed would like to see more protected bike lanes and bike paths away from car traffic, and 30% would like to increase the current amount of bike lanes. Mothers would like a safe and comfortable place to bike with infrastructure that protects them and their children from car traffic.
35% would like to see bike improvements that reduce dangerous driving and speeding. This number correlates to the biggest pedestrian improvement priority: creating pedestrian improvements that reduce dangerous driving (52% of those surveyed). This makes a lot of sense as many kids in Watts and South LA walk and bike.
We thank East Side Riders Bike Club for the amazing work that they do, and are grateful for their partnership in our Moms and Mobility Campaign.
Our Moms and Mobility Campaign: This year Investing in Place is working together with the East Side Riders Bike Club, Los Angeles Walks and South Central LAMP in a funded partnership to combine new data and new voices from women to impact policy and investments for the City’s transportation network.