25 Mar
2017

14 Comments

Delivery Cyclists in NYC

by

on March 25, 2017   comments 14

I was lucky enough to volunteer for a few hours with the Biking Public Project in New York when I was visiting recently.

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The Biking Public Project is a group of volunteer activists and organizers trying to make bike advocacy more inclusive and representative. BPP has been working on projects relating to women, people of color, and delivery cyclists for a few years. Their most recent project is focused on delivery cyclists in NYC.

From BPP:

We can choose to hear food delivery cyclist voices and experiences, yet often we do not. BPP has started a new participatory research project with food delivery workers called “Delivering Justice.” In this project, BPP seeks to support and empower food delivery cyclists by partnering with them to characterize abuses, create counter-narratives, and generate actions to improve labor and street conditions. We plan to do a lot of surveying of food delivery cyclists along with some focus groups and perhaps even some mapping and other data collection and analysis.

Follow the Biking Public Project

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Food Delivery Cyclists are Subject to Racist Enforcement

In New York, a city full of people who don't cook and rely on food delivery, it is abhorrent how food delivery cyclists are treated, looked down on, and discriminated against. (Always tip your delivery workers! They depend on it!)

I volunteered with BPP to hand out surveys to delivery cyclists in Manhattan. I handed out 60 surveys to the young brown and black men out delivering, or left them on bikes parked outside of restaurants, identifiable by their large baskets, e-bike batteries, placards showing which businesses own the bikes, and their large backpacks.

  • Delivery cyclists are low-paid, and are often subject to wage theft from shady employers who want to exploit their labor
  • Because of the low wage and high chance of exploitation, delivery cyclists are vulnerable and are often poor, and sometimes undocumented
  • Cracking down on delivery cyclists is inherently racist because the majority of them are poor, people of color
  • Citation data shows that enforcement is disproportionately affects minorities, and commercial districts where delivery cyclists work
  • Because of a weird legal gray area in NYC law, e-bikes are illegal and can be seized by law enforcement
  • Decision makers are not listening to the experiences of these workers

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Wage theft

BPP is working to collect this data to hopefully influence the system that makes being a food delivery cyclists a hard life. Wage theft is a huge part of the problem.

Workers of Indus Valley Restaurant came together to demand their bosses, Phuman and Lakhvir Singh, stop stealing their wages. They worked more than 60 hours per week, paid as little as $3/hour and never paid overtime. They won a court decision of $700,000.
Instead of paying the workers, the Singhs changed the name of the business from Indus Valley to Manhattan Valley and claim to have sold the business. These tactics are used by many unscrupulous employers—Nations Cafe, Mei Shi Lin, Grand Sichuan, to name a few–to ignore court judgments and continue to break the law.

The SWEAT bill (A628/S579) will make it harder for employers to do this and is on the cusp of becoming law. Let’s come together to pass SWEAT and help prevent wage theft!

Read here for more information about delivery cyclist abuse by employers.

Police enforcement

BPP released a report that shows how policing effects delivery cyclists.

From 2007 to 2015, 92 percent of commercial cycling tickets were issued in just four Manhattan precincts, covering the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, and parts of Midtown — areas whose populations are 75 percent white. Meanwhile, non-commercial infractions were most heavily concentrated in precincts with high levels of poverty and majority-minority populations.

The severely disproportionate policing of commercial cyclists by those four Manhattan precincts — the 17th (Midtown East), 18th (Midtown North), 19th (Upper East Side), and 20th (Upper East Side) holds true when controlling for the large number of restaurants in those areas.

In Midtown East, for example, 291 commercial cycling summonses were issued annually for every 100 restaurants. In comparison, the 88th Precinct in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill issued just .37 tickets per year per 100 restaurants.

The top eight precincts for commercial cycling infractions per 100 restaurants are all in Manhattan. “The commercial cycling infractions are all happening in affluent, white neighborhoods,” Biking Public’s Do Lee told Streetsblog. “Most [commercial cyclists] tend to be Asian and Latino immigrant workers.”

At the same time, all but two of the top 10 police precincts for non-commercial cycling summonses are in majority-minority neighborhoods. You can toggle between the commercial and non-commercial bike enforcement datasets on this map:

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“Given that most working cyclists in NYC are food delivery workers who tend to be Latino and Asian immigrants,” concludes Lee in a recent summary of the research, “this map means that in NYC, people of color who bike have been policed both where they live and where they work.”

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Click here for the study maps.

Crackdowns on e-bikes disproportionately affect minority cyclists

Further, the NYPD proudly cracks down on e-bikes, primarily used by delivery cyclists.

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NYPD confiscated 247 e-bikes, which are about $1500 each, minimum. So NYPD has just dispossessed mostly workers of color of about $370,000. Is this how #VisionZero is supposed to work? Do we feel safer because of this?

Negative narratives are racist and unfounded

If you have to speed to your delivery or risk not getting a tip, how would you ride through traffic? Are delivery cyclists a danger to other road users? Much of the narrative around these delivery cyclists is made without speaking to the workers, and negative impressions are allowed to circulate unchecked by other perspectives.

That’s the conclusion of a report from the Biking Public Project [PDF]. The authors identified 74 stories about delivery cyclists published in NYC newspapers and online outlets (including Streetsblog) between 2004 and 2014, and found that only 27 percent included at least one quote from a food delivery person.

I volunteered for this project to help raise the voices of NYC delivery cyclists. I recently read this article about their situation, and was moved by Xiaodeng Chen's words.

“Doing this job, you’re constantly reminded that you are not part of the community. You’re reminded that you’re an outsider,” Chen says. “You see the city for what it is.”

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07 Mar
2017

38 Comments

WTF Grease Rag? Podcast

by

on March 7, 2017   comments 38

LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST: SOUNDCLOUD

You can stream, or download for listening later! Click here.

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International WTF Day

#InternationalWTFDay is our day.

Our day is rooted in the labor struggles that continues today.  Our day recognizes not all labor fits into the traditional economy, but that doesn't mean it is not real work. Our day celebrates the spectrum of our genders, and does not stop at "woman." Our day does not determine membership with genitals. Our day is multi-generational, multi-cultural, and intersectional.

Join the WTF labor strike! March for trans youth, for trans women of color, for Black lives, Queer rights, sex workers' rights, single moms, and for access to sexual and reproductive health. March for Jaquarrius Holland, Chyna Gibson, Ciara McElveen, Mesha Caldwell, Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, Keke Collier, and Jojo Striker.

Celebrate with us by listening to our stories in our podcast. Everyone volunteered their time for this labor of love, with the offer of sliding scale compensation, although there is no price to be put on the value of our experiences!

WTF Grease Rag?

Listen here

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Anna and Maddy!

Thank you

Thank you to Maddy Love for recording, editing, and publishing this podcast! Anneka for the ambitious idea and motivation to tell our stories. Anneka, Riley, Shruthi, Holly, Anna, Amanda, Meg, Emily, Lily, Kenzie, Anna, and Andi for trusting us with your stories!  You are powerful and important! We value you!

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And thank you to my kitties for sitting on laps and purring so we could relax into our recording session.

26 Feb
2017

16 Comments

Day 26 of Loving Winter 2017

by

on February 26, 2017   comments 16

I #lovemnwinter!  Today, I love that #feministselfie light.

There's less sun in the winter, so make the most out of those golden hours. Is it just me, or does that low angle sun just make you look radiantly beautiful in your forward-facing camera?!

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Selfie of a QTPOC person on a bike in the perfect light, with a gray scarf on their face, white helmet on that says, "peace"

Merriam Webster added "selfie" to the dictionary in 2014. It's official! Selfies are a legit, mainstream form of self expression.

I avoided sharing selfies for a long time because I felt shy about being slut-shamed, sexist comments, or people mocking my mock duck face as conceited vanity.

But you know what?

If I don't love myself, and my image, no one else is going to do it for me! 

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Selfie of QTPOC person on a bike with a bright organge hat on, jean jacket, and a geometric shadow from a fence

I embrace the selfie, because I should not be ashamed to love my own image, and there is no shame in celebrating and broadcasting that! Let's live in a society where we can tell each other, "You look like you feel good!"

When I feel that my voice and my image are not represented by mainstream media?? What can I do?? Self publish some self love via selfie:

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Closeup of QTPOC person's eye, tiny ice drops on their eyelashes, with a white helmet that reads "RIFF" and a gray scarf covering their face

An article on #feministselfies:

We have entire industries depend on the perpetuation of women’s inferiority complexes.

Diet pills, acne cream, fashion, and pretty much the entirety of the advertising and marketing industries are just a few examples of why society has a vested economic interest in keeping girls’ self-esteem low.

I don’t mean to suggest that anything marketed toward women is inherently bad. However, the predominant message often promotes negative self-image.

The social status quo is also at stake. Girls are taught from an early age that they can only feel good about themselves through the approval of everyone else, especially men, and should be willing to change or compromise at the drop of a hat in order to achieve acceptance.

Resist that shit. We're beautiful.

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Selfie of QTPOC person on a bike in bright red plaid pants, a big wool shirt, black cap, white helmet, gray scarf and sunglasses, and a lipstick'd smirk of smug confidence

Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February of 2016. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.

19 Feb
2017

2 Comments

Easy Vegan "Kimchi" Recipe

by

on February 19, 2017   comments 2

Easy Vegan

I want to share my recipe with you, so you can ferment vegetables to feed your community, preserve the bounty of the sesason, and hopefully bring you joy!

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From a Grease Rag Full Moon "kimchi" skillshare! Many hands make it so fun. Everyone took some home!

I feel a very certain way about going to the farmers market and buying beautiful fresh vegetables from the brown hands that planted, nurtured, and harvested the produce. Taking these things home, trimming and cutting them, and massaging them with salt and spices. Using patience and waiting for my bacteria friends to find a home in the vegetables, monitoring their fermentation, and tasting the progress. And finally, my greatest joy is sharing this food wth friends. 

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Me, after a good haul from the Midtown Farmers Market!

I have been making some form of fermented vegetable for about 3 years.  I have been fermenting sourdough, vinegar, yogurt, wine, mead, beer, soda, nut cheese, and other things for about 8 years.  

Fermentation is the oldest form of food preservation. There is nothing new about the fermentation techniques that I use, everything I do is borrowed and adapted. Except for the love and intention of sharing my food, that I put into every bite.

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Nature is beautiful. And delicious.

Shoutout to my family, Kirstin from the Crock House, Clive, Tom, Holly, Zack, LP, the resources below, and all the folks who have inspired me to develop my pickle magic!

I hesitate to call this "kimchi" because it is not traditional Korean kimchi. I'm trying to approximate a vegan, gluten-free version of the things I love about kimchi with this recipe. I call it "kimchi" as a general term, not a specific one. For a real kimchi lesson, check out my link to Maanchi, below!

Read More

12 Oct
2016

29 Comments

8th Annual Winter Skill Share and Gear Swap

by

on October 12, 2016   comments 29

Curious about winter biking? Looking for advice on how to ride a little longer into the cool weather this year? Want to ready yourself to hit the slippery streets like a polar bear hits the ice? Do you like door prizes? Join us for the 7th Annual Winter Skill Share!

Sunday, November 6th, 11am - 4pm
Blake School, 511 Kenwood Pkwy, Mpls

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Print and share this flyer!

This event is FREE and open to all women, trans, and femme bike riders!

RSVP to the Facebook event

#WTFwinter8

Grease Rag peeps will share their experiences of winter biking from different WTF perspectives. Topics covered include bike setups, safe handling, bike maintenance, and clothing strategies. We want to see you out there this winter, so please stop by, eat a cookie and drink some cider, and maybe win a prize - there will be prizes! Come with questions and leave feeling confident and ready to take on Minnesota's most challenging and glorious season!

We are always adapting this annual event, so it is a little different from last year. We listened to your feedback and are trying longer sessions to allow for more in-depth skill sharing and discussion on the topics, with a longer Q & A session and a group ride scheduled in November!

Schedule

10:30 - 11am Sign In and Snacks

11am Welcome, Small group go-arounds

11:30am - 12:30pm
Session 1 (one hour)
Room 1: Bike Maintenance (Tina C) and Bike set up options (Janneke S)
Room 2: Self-Care (Ali R)

12:30pm BYO Lunch, quick post lunch stretch

1:15 - 2:15pm
Session 2 (one hour)
Room 1: Safety, handling, routing (Liz N)
Room 2: What to wear (Luci R)

2:15 - 3:30pm
Panel Q&A (JJ, Monica, Bri, Ana) and Community Announcements

3:30 - 4:00pm
Gear Swap

4:00pm
Group ride (Kat) OR tear down

The program starts at 11 and the gear swap will begin at 3:30. You are welcome to come and go as you please.

Gear Swap

Featuring many wonderful items created at our craft event and gently used gear/clothing! Go through your closet, your gear stash, and your bike stuff to find some gear, winter clothing, or other bike stuff that you are willing to part with and that would be useful for winter biking. Bring these treasures to the Winter Biking Skill Share. The Gear Swap is free and everyone is welcome to participate, even if you don't bring anything to swap. Anything leftover will be donated to The Exchange. See information below. Everyone's a Winner!

Bring a donation for The Exchange Queer Community Food Shelf!

Grease Rag will collect non-perishable food items (including gluten-free, nut-free and vegan options) to support this important organization. The Exchange is a Queer community space in the Powderhorn neighborhood of South Minneapolis. The Exchange is a partnership of three non-profit organizations, Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition/Trans Youth Support Network/RARE Productions, that came together to open The Exchange space three years ago.

Popular items include proteins, snack items, fruit and items that can make a whole meal. PRIZES will be awarded for she/they/he who brings the most weight in donations!

Related Events & Activities

Looking for more ways to participate in the #WTFwinter8? A craft night is being organized for October and theFull Moon Ride in November will be designed especially for first time winter riders. Watch for details in the #WTFwinter8 Facebook event/group pages!

Volunteers

The winter skill share is an annual event where we share stories, give away small prizes, swap gear, replenish The Exchange Minneapolis's food shelf, and inspire each other as we head into the winter biking season.

VOLUNTEERS!! You make Grease Rag happen. We need you, in order to have a successful winter skill share. 

We have shifts that are 30 minutes long, we have shifts where you greet people, and shifts where you write a recap. Something for everyone! Please pitch in. We need you.  Volunteer here


Questions?  Please ask in the comments!  And we are still looking for volunteers.

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