In 2013, FHWA funded a revitalization study that outlined ways to remove parts of Interstate 10 in New Orleans and restore historic Claiborne Avenue below. High costs have stalled those efforts but, in the meantime, the city has opted to reclaim space beneath the expressway in an attempt to reactivate nearby neighborhoods affected by the structure.
The National Complete Streets Coalition has released The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2016, the latest edition of the annual report that scores and ranks all of the Complete Streets policies passed during the previous year. Brockton, MA, Missoula, MT, and Wenatchee, WA tied for the top policy. In addition to looking at policy strength, for the first time this year the report also looked at the income and racial demographics of the communities that passed policies in 2016.
Recent research examines equity in road fatalities and finds significant disparities across racial/ethnic, income, and geographic lines. The researchers geocoded and analyzed crashes both in terms of where the crash occurred and the home zip code of the driver, a departure from previous roadway safety research that has focused exclusively on the crash locations. The findings of the research have significant equity implications.
Construction on a bridge project in West Baltimore will soon begin, and federal and local officials hope it will improve connectivity in a neighborhood that has long suffered from the legacy of urban highways built through low-income and minority communities.
A new report published by a coalition of legal and civil rights organizations highlights the race and class discrepancies in driver’s license suspension and its effects in California. As more low-income people locate in suburbs farther from jobs and transit, a driver’s license becomes ever more important to reach jobs, schools, and other destinations. Additionally, many jobs and training programs require a driver’s license, and employers sometimes screen out those without a license even if their job duties do not require driving.
In the Seattle region, King County Transit, Sound Transit, and other regional agencies have partnered to launch a first in the nation program that prices fares based on household income. It addresses the growing equity concerns surrounding transportation and income inequality. The program also helps the region achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals by improving access to transit. One additional benefit being realized by the agencies is unexpected cost savings.
A recently published study lends more support to the idea that sprawl can be a deterrent to upward mobility, making it difficult for low-income residents to improve their economic circumstances. Compact metro areas showed better results than those that are more spread out. The authors also note that upward mobility tends to be higher in Europe than in the U.S., and they theorize that besides differing approaches to education and social programs, the compactness of European cities may contribute to better opportunities.
The World Health Organization considers road noise a health hazard, and various studies have found that road noise can have a detrimental effect on health and wellbeing. A study by researchers in Montreal investigated whether residents age 15 years and under and over 65, as well as low-income populations and visible minorities, were more likely to live in areas with high road noise.
Concern over equity in our transportation system was on display at three major conferences the last week in October. PolicyLink’s Equity Summit took on the transportation equity conversation directly. SSTI attended this conference as part of its ongoing work developing a tool to assess equity in transportation investments. Both RailVolution and the NACTO Designing Cities 2015 conference also occurred over the same week as the Equity Summit, and both meetings notably held meaningful sessions that discussed equity in the transportation system.
Bikes shares, which now offer expanded transportation options in cities around the nation, have also tested those cities’ abilities to serve their communities equitably. The placement and pricing of these systems are often barriers for low-income communities. Philadelphia’s new system, however, while not a perfect example, improves upon its predecessors and offers important lessons in equitable transportation provision.