Turning a Gendered Lens on Transportation

People of different genders, ages, and abilities experience transportation differently. But policies aren’t designed that way.

2 minute read

October 23, 2023, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Womanin yellow jacket sitting on bench at outdoor train station with red wood depot building at night.

erikamit / Adobe Stock

Writing in Streetsblog USA, Sara Ortiz Escalante argues that “road safety is gendered,” and that the dominant transportation planning paradigm fails to serve most demographics, often directly putting them at higher risk.

Women, men, and people with other gender identities have different mobility patterns. But transportation policies have been designed prioritizing androcentric, ethnocentric, and classist mobility systems, responding to the needs of a single model of a person: a white, able-bodied, middle-class adult male with a paid job who drives each morning from a residential suburb into the central business district and home each night.

For Ortiz Escalante, “mobility policies that prioritize men’s movement have built social and gender inequalities into our very streets.” Ortiz Escalante calls for viewing “Mobility from a feminist perspective.” The article recommends expanding the concept of safety to fully include and understand the needs of all types of road and transit users such as women, people with disabilities, and children.

For example, “women move mostly on foot or by public transport, increasing their exposure to traffic crashes. They are more likely to make several stops in one journey to shop for groceries, pick up or drop off dependents, and run other errands, and are more likely to travel with minors or dependents due to their socially imposed role as caregivers.”

As other researchers have pointed out, designing roads and transportation policies to be more inclusive, known as universal design, can benefit all groups.

Monday, October 23, 2023 in Streetsblog USA

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