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.
Two recent studies suggest that bias in driver behavior toward other road users could be contributing to enhanced stress levels for certain groups of pedestrians and bicyclists. Recent research documents a difference in drivers yielding to pedestrians based on race in Portland, OR. A second study out of the UK concludes women cyclists are more likely than men to experience “incidents” (passing too closely, verbal harassment, etc.).
Wisconsin DOT and U.S. DOT recently reached a landmark agreement to settle a lawsuit brought in 2012 by the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope, challenging the $1.7 billion Zoo Interchange highway reconstruction project. This case may help lead to more balanced and inclusive transportation decisions in the future. But because it ended in a settlement and not an opinion of the court, whether it will result in changes in other states is still to be seen.