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‘Biking While Black’ and racial profiling


A series of short films

Most members of the Black community are familiar with the phrase “driving while Black”, and the problems one encounters due to racial profiling but how often do citizens take into account the experience of biking in Los Angeles while Black? Issues include unsafe infrastructure, traffic violence, lack of bike lanes, perpetuated racial stereotypes, over-policing and lack of accessible crosswalks.

Even more terrifying are the amount of lives taken while on a bike by both police shootings and or traffic-related incidents, being wrongly arrested for theft. The first and second installments of “Biking While Black” were directed by Yolanda Davis-Overstreet, a South Los Angeles native and bicycle enthusiast. She is an educator and community advocate.

The episode is set to premiere on social media platforms within the next year along with a 32-page booklet covering safety, social issues and bicycle education.

Davis-Overstreet’s first feature entitled “Biking While Black: How Safe Are Black Lives Bicycling?” was a nine-minute short film released in September 2021. The short focused on the personal narratives and stories regarding the experience of biking while Black. A second installment titled “Biking While Black: Continuing to Ride Through Decriminalization, Disenfranchisement and Gentrification” provides a closer examination of solution-oriented strategies and more specific experiences relating to the life-threatening realities faced while partaking in a hobby or an activity designed to facilitate exercise and or provide transportation.

Davis-Overstreet’s first episode captured the attention of many viewers and premiered on platforms such as YouTube and at the most recent Better Cities Film Festival in Detroit, Mich. The short covers many topics including bicycle education, mechanics, safety, “mobility justice” (a sense of safety while riding), advocacy and engagement. The series encourages more Black-owned bicycle shops. According to “Mobility can’t exist without justice as it relates to the wellbeing and safety of BIPOC lives.”

Davis-Overstreet, whose interest in bicycles peaked at a young age, once participated with the City of Bicycles in Inglewood during the 1990s. She integrated herself into a community with many Black bikers while bringing awareness to many otherwise invisible realities about the physical and environmental safety of being on a bike in West Adams and in South Los Angeles.

“I kinda had this ‘aha moment,’” she said. “Why doesn't my community have enough bike lanes? Why isn't the infrastructure set up for us to bike and walk comfortably?”

The questions and concerns raised in this film are ones that South LA should focus on, she said, while presenting bike education to the Black community and continuing to ride bikes and remain resilient.

For more information and updates on a release of the second installment visit