Op-Ed: The Importance of Equity in Transportation Planning

Transportation planners must address equity issues in their work and involve the people most affected by the planning and policymaking process.

March 26, 2020, 10:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink

Seattle light rail

Andrew Nash / Flickr

Issues of equity are relevant to transportation, writes Shannon Jordy, who shares a number of lessons learned from work at philanthropic and community organizations about ways transportation planners can ensure that equity is not overlooked.

Jordy says that data can hide the complexities of transportation issues and challenges. "Without disaggregating data – by gender, race and ethnicity, and class – there is no way to see the effects of an effort or a project on the communities it intends to serve."

Jordy also encourages a focus on problems rather than solutions as a way to efficiently reach the best outcomes. "By starting with the problem and sticking with it, preferably in the form of appropriate performance measures and metrics, folks never lose sight of the change they’re trying to effect."

Understanding how stories are told is also important in facilitating change, argues Jordy. "Numbers and data are great, but what sticks with those in power are the first-hand accounts of transit riders: their struggles and the impact of poor transit options on their quality of life. Those stories can’t come to the surface without engaging those who actually use public transit services."

In addition, transportation professionals should think broadly about partnerships and the ways mobility helps people access a range of services, says Jordy. Organizations also need to better reflect the communities they serve from staff up through management and leadership.

"Until the transportation field realizes it has a major equity problem, and that its workers are making race-, gender-, and class-neutral policies that are literally costing people’s lives and livelihoods, transportation practice will be a road to nowhere," adds Jordy.

Monday, March 9, 2020 in Next City

Soldier Field

Phase 1 Revealed for $20 Billion Chicago Megaproject

Plans for One Central, a proposed megadevelopment that would add 22.3 million square feet of buildings to the city of Chicago, are taking shape.

October 19, 2021 - Chicago Tribune

A screengrab of the Caharlotte Future virtual open house.

Top Websites for Urban Planning – 2021

Planetizen's annual list of the best of the urban planning Internet.

October 25, 2021 - James Brasuell

GIS Mobile App

Survey: What Mobile Apps Are Most Useful for Planning in 2021?

Planetizen is requesting your input in creating the definitive list of mobile apps for professional, student, academic, or citizen planners—updated for a planning profession forever altered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

October 18, 2021 - Planetizen

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.