Equity and Mobility: A Comic Treatment for Transportation Professionals

What does "equity" mean for transportation professionals? This is discussed in a 12-page comic published in the Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers newsletter.

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July 20, 2018, 6:00 AM PDT

By Todd Litman


Transportation Ideals

Ryan Martinson / Equity & Mobility

Engineer Ryan Martinson uses his cartooning skills to explore why and how to better incorporate social equity goals into transportation planning Equity & Mobility, a 12-page comic article published in the Summer issue of Transportation Talk," the Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineer's quarterly newsletter.

The article describes the differences between equality (everybody is treated equally, even if they they have different needs and abilities) and equity (people are treated fairly, taking into account their different needs and abilities), discusses how planning decisions allocate public resources and opportunities, explores how power imbalances can bias decision-making, how the definition of "design users" can affect who is served or excluded by a transport system, and examines how methods often used to evaluate transportation system performance tend to favor faster modes (particularly automobile travel) over more affordable and inclusive modes (such as walking, bicycling and public transit). Martinson also describes specific ways that individuals, professional organizations, agencies, and the public can better achieve transportation equity goals. 

This is a timely and important issue for planning professionals. Planning decisions allocate valuable and scarce public resources, and affect people's economic and social opportunities. A growing body of research indicates that the mobility and accessibility options available in a community significantly affect resident's economic mobility, that is, the chance that children born in lower-income households become more economically successful as adults.

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