Somebody recently asked bicycle enthusiast Baltazar De Anda Santana: With all of the issues that Latinos face – including DACA, immigration, employment, housing, health care, etc – why are you so worried about the lack of diversity on Madison’s bike trails?
“Legitimate question,” says De Anda Santana, who, let’s be honest, spends a great deal of time wrestling with those aforementioned important Latino issues already. “One of the reasons is that I believe that if we are not represented in something that is so simple as a bike trail, how are we going to be represented and how are we going to gain that recognition when it comes to the political system?
“There is a clear lack of diversity in something that is so simple like biking,” he adds. “I always thought that the city belonged to everybody, but I don’t see it when it comes to whole bike trail system. I never see many people of color on the bike trails in Madison. And that doesn’t make people feel like the city belongs to everybody, but rather just a certain type of population.”
De Anda Santana is an avid biker himself. In fact, he credits biking for helping him lose almost 100 pounds and getting him in incredible shape when he felt like he was starting to get heavy and out of shape. De Anda Santana is also the Share & Be Aware Ambassador for the Wisconsin Bike Federation. Share and Be Aware is a statewide campaign that offers presentations and classes in English and Spanish about biking, driving and walking safely. De Anda Santana is well aware that Madison – like many cities across the United States – has a biking diversity problem.
“We started with this bike ride – we call it the tour of the Latino family – so that we can introduce Latinos and people of color to biking,” De Anda Santana tells Madison365. “The Tour of the Latino Family has different routes with the idea that our community will be introduced to the beautiful bike trails we have here in Madison.”
Thirty-seven people came out for the last “Tour of the Latino Family” bike tour that was held on Saturday, Oct. 21. “Many folks have been trying to do this for many years – get Latinos biking in Madison,” De Anda Santana says, “so it was great to see so many people out that day. I was happy to have a large group.”
Unfortunately, the bikers had an incident on the bike trails that put a damper on the event. On that Oct. 21 Tour of the Latino Family ride, some of the riders were verbally harassed by two white middle-aged individuals while they were riding on the Capital City Trail, which runs parallel with John Nolen Dr. Many felt that the incident – attacking a large group of Latinos – had racial connotations to it.
With that in mind, Baltazar has subtitled the third Slow Tour of the Latino Family with “We Are Not Afraid of Riding.”
“If you are ready to stand against this type of verbal harassment towards our communities, join us on Saturday, Nov. 18, 10 .m. in the Olin Park parking lot,” De Anda Santana said in an e-mail announcing Saturday’s ride. “With this ride, we will show the Madison community that we are not afraid of riding. With this ride, we look to make a statement to the Madison community that we do belong here.”
De Anda Santana tells Madison365 that he “really wants to believe that it was just two jerks (at the last Tour of the Latino Family) behaving poorly, but the fact that we were all Latino riders plays into it.”
“I don’t think that if it was a group of Ironmen or a group of white, middle-aged men, that person wouldn’t have said those words,” De Anda Santana said. “We need to make sure that these type of behaviors do not exist in our city regardless of whether you are white or black or brown.”
Riders that come out to the Tour of the Latino Family have different options on how long they can ride for depending on their experience and their time commitments. The bikers can go for 2.5, 5 or 10 miles. Riders are encouraged to bring water and snacks. Tour of the Latino Family gets support from Dream Bikes, the Share and Be Aware program, Madison B-Cycle, Tri 4 Schools, Budget Bicycle Center and the Wisconsin Bike Federation.
“We want to make sure that the community knows that we are here,” De Anda Santana says. “We are here. Even if we work three or four jobs in the Mexican restaurants, we are in this city. Please don’t ignore us. Many folks are OK with the Latino community as long as we are quiet and as long as we clean their offices and cook their meals. I think they need to know that we also bike.”
It’s going to get cold this Saturday, but De Anda Santana will continue to host the ride no matter what. “Even if we get one or two riders in the heart of winter, we will continue to do these rides,” De Anda Santana says. “It’s good camaraderie, it’s good exercise. It’s good for your health. It’s fun. Come on out on Saturday; you will like it!”
If you want more information about this bike ride or if you do not have a bicycle, please let Baltazar De Anda Santana know by calling (608)469-5448. If you do not know how to ride but want to join the bike ride, you can ride with the group on tandem bikes.
If your bicycle needs air or repair, DREAM BIKES will be there from 9:30 am to help with any bicycle-related problems.