San Diego artist Alexander Harman believes cycling can be a political act to promote civic engagement. To demonstrate, he plans to use hundreds of bicyclists to help him protest the overturning of the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update.
The Barrio Update was a legal measure that would have installed a five-block-long buffer zone between residential and industrial areas in Barrio Logan. The plan would have allowed “community and neighborhood commercial [interests]” to use the area, but no housing would be there.
Neighborhood residents believe the distance would help reduce the health risks of residents living close to shipbuilding yards, some of which mold plastic or paint car parts. Shipbuilding interests disagreed, however.
Tighter ordinances from a nearby residential area could force nearby shipyards to change their hours or operating procedures,which could risk “billions of dollars of income and thousands of high-paying, good jobs,” critics argued. They also claimed the residents’ health problems were from I-5 highway, which passes nearby.
The San Diego City Council passed a resolution and two ordinances to provide the zone, but business groups objected and successfully gathered enough signatures to overturn both measures last month.
Now, a young artist holding a protest called BikeFo(u)r, which encourages cyclists to “use their own physical presence to change space, ignite conversation, and promote civic engagement.” He expects hundreds of other cyclists to help circle the same block on Logan Avenue between Sampson and Evans streets in Barrio Logan.
The artist stated that the event was not supposed to impede the flow of traffic. Participants would simply make a statement with their presence, wearing signs that read: “I am riding for clean air,” “I am riding for the community” or “I am riding for cyclists’ rights.”
Bicycle enthusiasts nationwide are known for using their hobby to raise funds and promote awareness. In San Diego, the cycling community has always supported healthy bodies, families and community values.
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[Did You Know: The Barrio Logan has not received a community update in 35 years.]