Bike East Bay has been advocating for clear, transparent, independently collected police data for years. Last week, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) finally released traffic stop data from 2019. The good news is, stops in general are down by 54% between 2017 and 2019, and stops for people on bikes are down 82%. For that same period, serious injuries and fatalities on Oakland streets decreased citywide by 11% for pedestrians, and were down 56% for bike riders, according to crash data from the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS).
However, if we just celebrate the reduction in police stopping bike riders—which Bike East Bay has advocated for across the East Bay—we miss a larger picture. Racist enforcement by police remains. Police violence and structural racism extends far beyond the bike lane, and far broader change is needed. Connect with East Bay groups working to cut police budgets and reinvest in community services.
Whether people are driving, biking, or walking—regardless of the mode of transportation—Black people are still more likely to be stopped and searched by police. In 2019, Black Oaklanders represented 23.5% of the Oakland population, but made up 51.3% of traffic stops, and 62.5% of individuals searched during a traffic stop. As Bike East Bay Education Director Robert Prinz highlights, “while it is good to have access to this data, it won’t come as a surprise to those for whom it is a lived experience. What matters is how we use this information to hold decision makers accountable for policy changes, funding priorities, and other steps to address systemic inequities.”
In Oakland, we are supporting efforts of the Anti Police-Terror Project to redirect 50% of the police budget to alternative community-led public safety and wellness initiatives, with our focus on reducing policing overall and moving traffic enforcement activities away from armed officers and into the Oakland Department of Transportation. But there is work to be done across the East Bay. Bike East Bay is supporting efforts of Walk Bike Berkeley to move transportation and parking enforcement out of police purview, and establish a new safety and equity focused Berkeley Department of Transportation. We are also ready to help Richmond Revolution on their efforts to reimagine public safety. Work in this area is moving forward, but slowly. We expect that in early 2021 there will be opportunities for more public input, aside from the many city-led zoom calls on which the public is welcome to join and make comment through the end of the year. In the meantime, connect with East Bay groups working to cut police budgets and reinvest in community services.