Transportation Equity

Source: Pedestrian Bicycle Information Center (PBIC)

Transportation Equity

An equitable transportation system fosters fairness and helps facilitate access to opportunities for all community members. The PBIC white paper, Pursuing Equity in Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning, provides a thorough overview of how transportation equity is defined, the importance of nonmotorized transportation options for traditionally underserved populations, and strategies for improving equity for people who walk and bicycle.

Equity is both a process and an outcome. To achieve transportation equity, communities must address equity during all stages of the planning and implementation process through authentic outreach. This involves building an accessible, affordable, and reliable transportation network that effectively serves all people. It also includes access to jobs and job training for transportation employment opportunities.

Transportation equity requires understanding the unique needs and safety risks of different populations and providing the appropriate amount of resources to each group. Traditionally underserved populations often lack access to adequate transportation facilities, which can mean pedestrians and bicyclists are forced to use inherently dangerous infrastructure. According to Smart Growth America, "In counties where more than 20% of households have incomes below the federal poverty line, the pedestrian fatality rate is over 80% higher than the national average." Another source of transportation inequity is discriminatory enforcement of traffic laws.

Communities across the country are pursuing equity through bicycle and pedestrian plans, policies, and initiatives that seek to address underlying disparities of mobility and access. In Humboldt County, California, planners used mapping to determine crucial areas for equity-based transportation interventions. Philadelphia's Indego bike share addresses equity through context sensitive educational campaigns, strategic station siting, and affordable pay options.


Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
A PBIC white paper and webinar cover how and why communities should address pedestrian and bicycle transportation equity.
Pursuing Equity in Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning
Pursuing Equity in Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning webinar

US Department of Transportation
These resources explain how to promote equity through planning, design, public engagement, and project evaluation.

Better Bike Share Partnership
BBSP's four-part blog series entitled Silent Barriers to Bicycling details findings from two Rutgers University researchers regarding bicycling among Blacks and Latinos.

Alliance for Biking & Walking
Tipsheet: Active Transportation & Anti-Displacement: This factsheet and webinar highlight concepts necessary to confront the systemic underpinnings of transportation inequity.

America Walks
Materials specifically tailored for advancing equity while improving walkability are available in the America Walks Social Justice Toolkit.

Governors' Institute on Community Design
The Why and How of Measuring Access to Opportunity: A Guide to Performance Management: This report approaches transportation equity in terms of measuring how transportation plans and investments can impact access to opportunities.

League of American Bicyclists

According to these reports from the League of American Bicyclists, there is growing diversity among bicyclists and bicycle advocates.
The New Movement: Bike Equity Today
The New Majority: Pedaling Towards Equity

Race, Ethnicity, Class and Protected Bike Lanes: An Idea Book for Fairer Cities: This resource uses case studies to show how protected bike lanes can boost community engagement and foster transportation equity.


Evaluating Transportation Equity: Guidance For Incorporating Distributional Impacts in Transportation Planning (2017): The Victoria Transport Policy Institute offers methods for evaluating transportation equity and strategies for meeting equity objectives.

Linking transportation and population health to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in transportation injury: Implications for practice and policy (2017): In this paper from the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, researchers use a public health approach to identify disparities of transportation injury risk by race.

Breaking Barriers to Bike Share: Insights on Equity from a Survey of Bike Share System Owners and Operators (2017): This National Institute for Transportation and Communities report assesses equity efforts of more than 50 bike share systems in the U.S.

Bicycle Justice and Urban Transformation (2016): A compilation book by leading transportation equity scholars and advocates.

An Examination of Racial Disparities in Bicycle Stops and Citations Made by the Tampa Police Department (2016): In this report, the U.S. Department of Justice finds bicycle stops by the Tampa Police involved racial discrimination and failed to address official safety objectives.


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