Equity in transportation is about making sure that everyone has access to employment and other opportunities; that travelers do not impose safety, noise and environmental burdens on vulnerable residents; that bike and pedestrian networks serve all, including those with disabilities; and that when enforcement is needed to ensure safety it is administered without bias.
Improving Policy and Practice
The U.S. highway-building era devastated many poor neighborhoods for the benefit of wealthy and middle-class commuters, and those scars remain. Meanwhile, decades of automobile-focused policies left non-drivers behind while subjecting them to new hazards and indignities. Many Americans still face racial bias in the policing of our roads. Too many decision-making rules in our field remain rooted in this history. Equitable policies and practices aim to acknowledge these lingering biases and undo the damage they have caused.
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Role of Traffic Enforcement
Given rising concerns about the disproportionate impacts that traffic enforcement can have on people of color and segregated communities, SSTI led a discussion about the potential benefits and consequences of automated enforcement among DOT leaders at it’s 2019 Community of Practice. These tough conversations are ongoing within our peer network.
Prioritizing ADA Facilities in Delaware
Through a partnership with the University of Delaware and DelDOT, SSTI developed new techniques for assessing the relative benefits of sidewalk improvements for travelers with physical disabilities. This approach used accessibility analysis and network theory to rank improvements based on their potential to connect people to important destinations.
Advancing Equity through Access
SSTI’s work analyzing people’s access to jobs and services—including Virginia’s Smart Scale—stresses the needs of low-income households, which tend to rely more on walking, biking and transit for meeting everyday needs. Accessibility analysis lets DOTs assess how different communities are affected by transportation investments and estimate household transportation costs based on the available options.
Tolls and Low-income Households in Washington
SSTI assisted WSDOT in applying an accessibility tool to assess the employment-access impacts of a proposed new toll on a key roadway link in the Puget Sound region.