‘Arrested Mobility’: How Transportation-Related Laws Impact Black Americans

A far-reaching new study highlights the disproportionate effect of biking and walking laws on the mobility of Black Americans.

2 minute read

March 29, 2023, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

An extensive new analysis of laws that impact vulnerable road users identifies “policies that evidence shows are being enforced in a racially discriminatory manner, or that have strong potential to be enforced in a racially discriminatory manner.” As Kea Wilson explains in Streetsblog, the research team, led by Charles T. Brown, used interviews in addition to the legal data to understand how the mobility of Black Americans is limited by discriminatory laws.

“Throughout the report, Brown and his colleagues cite a massive body of research that shows Black road users throughout the U.S. are significantly more likely than White road users to be policed for mobility-related infractions, to face violence and death at the hands of law enforcement when they’re stopped, and to live in communities that rely on fines and fees to support their municipal budgets, even though Black residents disproportionately struggle to pay them.” Furthermore, stops made under the pretense of safety—jaywalking, helmet laws, sidewalk bike riding laws—actually endanger pedestrians and people on bikes by forcing them onto unsafe infrastructure.

The report makes a few recommendations, such as supporting “dedicated infrastructure for vulnerable road users, not just as a tool to end traffic violence but a tool to prevent criminalized behavior like sidewalk riding and jaywalking and reduce the need for human enforcement” and encouraging bike manufacturers to include more safety equipment as built-in features. “The researchers’ final recommendation, though, may be the most important of all: that transportation leaders to analyze and address all the structural reasons why Black people experience arrested mobility anywhere they move.”

Tuesday, March 28, 2023 in Streetsblog USA

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