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Bike Lanes Are White Lanes by Melody Hoffmann - Book Review Example

4 pages
838 words
Wesleyan University
Type of paper: 
Book review
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Bike lanes are white lanes by Melody Hoffmann is a book that nuances a clear picture of racism in the United States of America. It talks about the outer sense of bicycling as a means of taking people from one point to another. It is an excellent way to reduce pollution and keep peoples bodies healthy. But going deeper, the actual theme of the book is to depict the gap between the white and the black people. From the title of the book, it can be noted that the content may be talking about the white society but does not show any sign of discriminatory content. Hoffman argues that in the recent year's bicycle use has become prevalent among the people especially those of color. She, however, depicts that is has brought a different meaning to diverse people because some view it as a way that has propagated racism and cultural classes while some consider it as a way of bringing unity and preaching the benefits of using it to achieve several.

The author investigates three prominent cities in the United States of America, and they include Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Portland. She explores how bicycling has led to adverse effects among the people as it has heightened the already prominent issue of racism and class. The major theme of the book is the concept of racism in America. Though bicycling belong to all the people, it has been given a special place among the white people which they consider it their thing and have built a class of their own. Hoffman depicts the bicycle as a political tool that has brought division among people and made them place themselves in social classes. She illustrates that the pair on a bike can indicate society on hand and conflict on the other. When the bicycling is supported by the government through gentrification, then it might lead to some neighborhoods being made better than others.

The author uses a case of the cities mentioned and in Minneapolis and Portland where bicycling is well established indicates that people have divided themselves into groups of people who are bicycle owners. The bicycle owners form advocacy groups, and they will use this unit to determine which places should benefit from bicycle amenities this is an open way of propagating discrimination. Besides, it indicates adding privileges to an already privileged class of people. She uses the concept of signification to portray the value attached to bicycles among different people at different places. Hoffman argues that bicycle signified one thing in the past and another job in the contemporary society in America.In the past, it was a way of conserving the environment and keeping healthy while today it has brought another meaning which is class. It can be noted that bicycles have different sense depending on space and time.

Hoffman traces the history of bicycles to way back in the 1890s where it was a symbol of wealth, and he women from the class rode. While in the1900 the white elites categorized themselves by owning bicycles to distinguish themselves from the poor people from the south. On the other hand, the lower income people depicted the bikes as being held by those who are poor while the rich drove vehicles. From the interviews and questionnaires conducted on the participants, they had different opinions as some had very positive energy in the activity and ownership of bicycles. The ones with positive responses indicated that bikes helped them to keep a pollution free environment and keep themselves healthy. While others depicted bicycling as an activity that exclusively belonged to the white people and it distinguished them from other races.

In this regard, the author argues that bicycling has led to the creation of classes and racism among the people. She argues that it has widened the rift between the white and the black people. Instead of the bicycle serving as a mode of transport, it has served as a political tool and a means of racism and creation of social classes. Similarly, Hoffman argues that it has been used to make those who are already stable and better to flourish while those who are disadvantaged continue to suffer for instance through the urban planning that favors the whites while the blacks have to place. The author's argument, therefore, is that the bicycles have made the white people be superior and put themselves on a class of their own. She argues that it has brought social tension within the neighborhood.

To me, the book meant that racism is at its peak and the rift that already existed is widening. The white community continues to put themselves in a class of their own while other races remain behind. It is helpful in my situation because I have learned that racism is evident everywhere and ways to eliminate it are far-reaching. However, I am left with this question when will racism end in the United States of America? I have noted that discrimination lies with people and not in activities.

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