About

Urban Adonia is Dr. Adonia E. Lugo, a street anthropologist who believes that sustainable mobility must remain affordable. I am currently teaching a course on urban infrastructure in the Urban Sustainability MA program at Antioch University Los Angeles, researching the intersections of affordable housing and active mobility for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, writing a book for Microcosm Publishing, co-editing a planning book about bike justice for Routledge, and consulting on culture change with Bicicultures. You can contact me at adonia at urbanadonia dot com.

I use bicycling, walking, and riding transit as embodied methods for observing the racialized and classed power dynamics of urban space. My approach draws on the tradition of flânerie and the Situationist International's call for political action in public space, blended with feminist critical theory's situated knowledge. Our social positions influence what we consider normal in street life, and much of my own perspective developed through my confusing experiences growing up as an English-speaking, mixed, Mexican-American kid in the immigrant enclave of a suburban California town where racism still shapes residential patterns. Today I am an urban anthropologist, which means I study the conflicting, complex ways that people inhabit cities and streets. I believe that cross-cultural understanding and respect for diverse realities are central to furthering urban sustainability.

In my 2013 dissertation, "Body-City-Machines: Human Infrastructure for Bicycling in Los Angeles," I analyzed the history of L.A. bike activism and my own role as a participant in it. The concept of "human infrastructure" is something I found in urban ethnography and anthropological theory. These works illustrated how the materiality of individual actions, social networks, and cultural attitudes can be revealed in situations where physical infrastructures fail. Los Angeles, a city known for its love of the automobile, provided a fascinating lab for experimenting with the social networks and multiple urbanisms (especially Latin@ urbanism) that have started to grow bicycling beyond niche subcultures into a normal mode of transport there.

I am a critical bike scholar, which means my work is not centered in praising bicycling. Different people experience bicycling in positive and negative ways because bicycling takes place through bodies subject to the hierarchies of our society. I research bicycling because it is a useful site for studying the racial and class distinctions that we express through dominating or sharing streets.

From 2008 till 2011, I lived carfree as an engaged researcher studying and organizing bicycle projects in L.A. For most of that time, I lived at the Los Angeles Eco-Village, which had been an important hub for central L.A.'s bike social life since the 1990s. Inspired by a trip to Bogotá, Colombia in August 2008, I helped start the effort to organize a ciclovía in Los Angeles, and served as the board secretary of CicLAvia until January 2011. I also co-founded the City of Lights/ Ciudad de Luces project at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition that connected day laborer cyclists with bike advocacy. In 2012, City of Lights transformed into Multicultural Communities for Mobility.

In Seattle, where I lived from 2011 to 2013, I conducted interviews for the Seattle Bike Justice Project sponsored by Bike Works and Washington Bikes. In 2012, I also helped start Bicicultures, a network of scholars researching bicycling's many social and cultural forms. Bicicultures explores ways to bring bicycle advocacy, research, and communities into the same conversation.

I received a BA in anthropology from Reed College in Portland, OR in 2005, an MA in anthropology from UC Irvine in 2010, and a PhD in anthropology from UC Irvine in 2013. I currently live in Washington, DC, where I managed the Equity Initiative at the League of American Bicyclists from November 2013 to March 2015.

With my collaborator Dr. Sarah McCullough, I am turning Bicicultures into a research practice where we deploy our networked understanding of mobility to develop cultural adaptation strategies. Our method uses culturally appropriate interventions to spread sustainable practices.

Online Work:
2015. Keynote Panelist at the Youth Bike Summit. I'm a huge fan of the Youth Bike Summit, and this year I got to be a keynote speaker on Valentine's Day at their conference in Seattle. The illustrious Professor Jane Pirone introduces my talk at 1:19:22 in the video at the link.

2013. Los Angeles Bike Movement History. This is a collaborative timeline of significant moments that moved bicycling in L.A. forward.

January 21, 2013. Bicycle Alliance of Washington blog. "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Legacy and Bicycling: How Do We Build a Coalition for Bicyclee Justice?"

November 2012. Guest blogger on anthropology website Savage Minds

2012. Curated Collection on Infrastructure. This is an education resource reviewing anthropological work on infrastructure that Jessica Lockrem and I completed for the journal Cultural Anthropology's website.  

2012. Seattle Bike Justice Project. Interviews about bicycling with leaders in Rainier Valley's communities of color.

2012. Bicicultures. This is the online home of the Bicicultures Research Group, a network of scholars who use qualitative methods to investigate the multiple cultural worlds of bicycling.

May 21, 2012. LA Streetsblog. "Separate But Eco: Livable Communities for Whom?" with Allison Mannos.

2012. Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers No. 101. "Planning for Diverse Use/rs: Ethnographic Research on Bikes, Bodies, and Public Space in Los Angeles."

March 16, 2012. Friday Transportation Seminar Series at Portland State University. "Bikes, Bodies, and Public Space: The Role of Human Infrastructure in Urban Transport." (Scroll down at link for audio file)

Media Coverage of Activist Projects:
February 21, 2013. Josh Cohen of The Bicycle Story interviewed me about bicycling and social justice.

April 13, 2012. Orange County Register. "CicLAvia: LA streets become paths Sunday, with help from O.C. Woman" by Alejandra Molina. 

April 5, 2012. LA Weekly. "CicLAvia Rules! How Bicyclists Made L.A. a Better Place" by Hillel Aron.

October 24, 2011. KUOW 94.9 FM, Seattle. "Bikes and Cars Try to Ease Down on the Road." Radio story by Sara Lerner.

January 16, 2010. Orange County Register. "UCI student challenges anti-cyclist attitudes" by Laura Rico.