Cycling while Black carries a heightened risk of being stopped, searched, ticketed, and arrested. That’s according to our review of public data from three U.S. cities—Oakland, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. Our research on police stops of cyclists also confirms that Black neighborhoods tend to be more heavily policed than white areas.
“Being stopped and harassed is one of the top concerns of Black and brown cyclists,” says Charles Brown, a senior transportation researcher at Rutgers University. In Brown’s 2017 survey of more than 2,000 Black and Latinx cyclists in New Jersey, 15 percent said they’d been unfairly stopped by a police officer while riding. Several survey respondents said they avoided certain areas because of an increased likelihood of being stopped and questioned about their activities or rightful ownership of the bike they were riding.