Red, Bike and Green celebrates 12 years in Atlanta during ‘Bikerversary’

Black-centered cycling event convenes in West End through Mother’s Day Weekend
Members of the Black cycling collective Red, Bike and Green pose on a sunny day in Atlanta. Front row (L to R): Sylvester Price, Tasha Gomes, Zahra Alabanza. Back row (R to L): Chad Park, Kimerie Swift, Kenneth Florence Jr., and Marley Alabanza.

Credit: Courtesy of Red, Bike and Green

Credit: Courtesy of Red, Bike and Green

Members of the Black cycling collective Red, Bike and Green pose on a sunny day in Atlanta. Front row (L to R): Sylvester Price, Tasha Gomes, Zahra Alabanza. Back row (R to L): Chad Park, Kimerie Swift, Kenneth Florence Jr., and Marley Alabanza.

From Friday through Sunday as we roll into Mother’s Day, the Atlanta chapter of Black cycling collective Red, Bike and Green will mark their twelfth year in the city. And they’ll celebrate by taking over the heart of West End with their annual “Bikerversary.”

The weekend of events kicks off with a Friday evening event calld “Bike the Culture,” featuring a stationary bike race hosted at Clutch Bicycle Shop, near the corner of Cascade Avenue and Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard.

“All Bike Everything” Saturday will be an all-day affair at Gordon White Park, with partners from Aztec Cycles and ATL Bicycle Repair providing bike maintenance in the morning, followed by cycling classes with Propel ATL, yoga classes with Joy Love Movement and a community ride in the early afternoon.

Later there will be a block party hosted by DJs Dimebag and Mikeflo, where patrons will participating in workshops, leading to Sunday’s “Spottie-Ottie-Roadie” closing ceremonies, also hosted at Gordon White Park.

The final event will include two bike rides: “Red, Brunch and Green,” and “Bikes, Birds and Brews.” The former is a ride followed by a ticketed brunch and the latter ride will offer coffee, bird watching and a finale of beer. Except for the brunch all events are free to attend, with donations welcomed.

“Because of the Black institutions in the West End area, it is harder to gentrify, but it is being gentrified,” says Red, Bike and Green’s Atlanta chapter founder Zahra Alabanza, speaking about the intentionality of hosting the Bikerversary in this area and why it “feels like old Atlanta” to people who compliment the organization’s work.

“Putting an event like this in the middle of the West End, visible from Abernathy, visible from the Beltline, says ‘See what we do. Understand we are here. Understand that despite what you might think about this neighborhood and Black folks, this is actually what we do, what it looks like and what it feels like.’”

Ironically, Red, Bike and Green has spent the last decade-plus working toward getting “old Atlanta” to adopt new ways of thinking about cycling as the city grows.

While most are introduced to the cycling collective through monthly community tours which pay visits to Black-owned businesses in various neighborhoods, the group also campaigns for adequate bike lanes and cycling education.

In 2012 Red, Bike and Green advocated for bike lanes on Auburn Avenue with a bike tour to encourage residents and business owners to see the benefits. In 2016 they partnered with the City of Atlanta and Relay Bike Share to launch the Atlanta Bike Champions initiative, raising awareness of a bike-sharing program by training and educating Westside residents to be ambassadors.

Additional efforts over the years have included consulting local businesses and organizing urban farm tours. But the harsh reality is that Atlanta is still a pedal stroke behind other cities, with numerous published surveys consistently ranking Atlanta as one of the least bikeable major cities in America.

A 2023 list of the most bike-friendly cities in the U.S. ranked Atlanta at 38 of 50. A 2022 edition of the same study ranked the city at 48. The city’s rise in the rankings might appear to be progress, but Alabanza sees it differently.

“I think it has gotten worse after 2020 to ride bikes in [Atlanta],” she says, noting the lack of protected bike lanes to prevent cars from entering and parking in them.

“Though there is more infrastructure, cars are far more reckless. Once you become a cyclist, you see how unsafe car infrastructure is and how much safer it needs to be for cyclists to feel comfortable on [roads],” she adds.

The Bikerversary comes just weeks after Red, Bike and Green was recognized by Propel ATL, formerly Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, and awarded a Blinkie Award for creating “more inclusive spaces for people to bike, walk, and use scooters or wheelchairs.”

Red, Bike and Green does all those things but they are clear about the rides being exclusively for Black bike riders. The reason, Alabanza says, is community oriented.

“It’s important to have an all-Black ride because we need our own spaces,” she says, admitting that some riders — including Black cyclists — have claimed the practice is racist. Alabanza disagrees.

“You wouldn’t say that a group of women gathering themselves for an only women activity was sexist. It’s the same thing,” she insists.

“We need spaces to feel comfortable and as time goes on, we may need them less. But clearly people still enjoy the fact that it’s an all-Black ride. I think it allows us to be our authentic selves and talk about things that affect us in only the ways that affect us. It’s not just a bike ride.”

Red Bike and Green’s Bikerversary begins Friday. Event details are available at the organization’s website.