In Solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that our trail and bikeway network is one of our most precious public spaces. Everyone should feel welcomed and safe when they venture outside to walk, run, bike, and enjoy nature. Unfortunately, people of color, especially Black Americans, are often subjected to racism, prejudice, harassment, assault, and worse when they partake in these activities in public. We are deeply disturbed and saddened by the stories of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Christian Cooper, and so many other people of color whose experiences of police brutality and racial hostility go unnoticed.
Tri-State Trails stands in solidarity with the Black community and communities of color in protesting against racism and inequality. We cannot tolerate racism in our community. All of us, especially white people, must step up and be proactive to create an equitable community where everyone can thrive.
Tri-State Trails’ mission is to connect people and places with a regional trail and bikeway network that enhances vibrancy and equity in our community. A key focus of our work has been to reconnect our urban neighborhoods to make our community more walkable and bikeable. Decades of systemic racism and oppression have created many problems in our built environment that Tri-State Trails and our partners are working to solve. The dawn of the automobile, subsequent investment in the US Highway System, and resulting suburban sprawl have exacerbated land use issues that have largely benefited white Americans and left people of color out. The scars run deep in our community from the construction of I-71 and I-75, which disproportionately disrupted thriving Black communities like Kenyon Barr, West End, Evanston, Avondale, and others.
We think it’s important to acknowledge that most of our region’s existing trails are in predominantly white communities. For the past five years, we have been working with numerous partners to help communities of color gain access to trails in their neighborhoods. Through our CROWN project, Tri-State Trails has prioritized our advocacy efforts to build support for connecting the planned Wasson Way trail to Cincinnati’s Avondale neighborhood. As a result, last October, the City of Cincinnati secured a $6 million grant from OKI Regional Council of Governments that will reconnect a path for walking and biking between Evanston and Avondale. This week, the City is applying for another $5.6 million grant to extend the trail further into Avondale and Uptown.
We know there is so much more to be done to make walking and bicycling welcoming, accessible, and safe to Black Americans and other communities of color. Please help us create an environment where everyone can enjoy these public amenities free from racial discrimination. Challenge yourself to understand and acknowledge your own implicit bias and how you display that through your body language. We must speak out and condemn racism in Greater Cincinnati and the United States of America. #BlackLivesMatter
Wade Johnston, AICP
Director, Tri-State Trails