This page outlines three actions that advocates can take to reimagine how people move through their communities and address the inequities built into our transportation system. This list is primarily meant for nonprofit and public sector advocates who want to increase equitable access to everyday destinations for people walking and rolling. We have provided resources and intermediate steps to help illustrate how each of these big actions can happen.
start by learninG about the historical context of today's transportation inequities:
- Watch this 3- minute animated video, Moving Toward Mobility Justice, for a brief introduction to Mobility Justice.
- Dig deeper with this story map, “We Built It This Way: A Primer on Transportation Inequity.” The story map reviews the historical context that built inequities into our communities and transportation systems, and shows how those inequitable systems have affected communities of color with examples from across the country.
What is Mobility Justice?
The Untokening, an organization that centers marginalized communities to increase equity and mobility justice defines the term:
“Mobility Justice demands that we fully excavate, recognize, and reconcile the historical and current injustices experienced by communities—with impacted communities given space and resources to envision and implement planning models and political advocacy on streets and mobility that actively work to address historical and current injustices experienced by communities.”
To gain a deeper understanding of this work, read Untokening 1.0—Principles of Mobility Justice.
Equipped with knowledge about how we created the conditions we have today, it’s time to take action. Here are three steps any active transportation or public health advocate can take:
Taking Steps Towards Mobility Justice
1) Partner with community members.
Community members should be at the heart of efforts to improve safe, convenient access and mobility. Nonprofit and public sector advocates should take a supportive role by providing funding, content-area expertise, and other resources to realize community members’ vision.
- Identify and elevate existing community priorities and efforts. Are community members already working in this space? Support their leadership and help build on that work through authentic and meaningful partnership. Don’t begin a new process if there is already something happening in the community.
- Look at the people on your staff or in your coalition to ensure there are people with content expertise, personal experience, and existing relationships that are relevant to the intended beneficiaries and neighborhoods you serve. A strong grounding in the community enables people to understand what residents are asking for and make decisions that center on those desires. Look for partner organizations or individuals that:
- Demographically reflect the population you are working with
- Grew up or live in the community
- Work(ed) in the community and are trusted by residents
- Have an equity focus
- Plan a community engagement event to understand residents’ vision for their community. Use this community visioning checklist to plan and facilitate thoughtful and engaging community visioning.
- Youth have an important perspective on mobility and can bring creativity to efforts that connect everyone to places for work and play. For strategies and tools to effectively engage young people, read Safe Routes for Youth. It is primarily focused on Vision Zero work, but it can apply to any effort to engage youth in safe routes to daily destinations.
- Assess the current state of active transportation options and access to public spaces.
- Get inspired by these community engagement cards that highlight arts-based activities that both foster community building and help collect useful information about what people want and value. They are easily adapted to fit virtual settings and a range of ages. No extensive art skills are required, just an open mind and a willingness to try new things.
- Hold a walk audit using this toolkit that guides both planning and conducting the event. It also includes helpful worksheets for participants to fill out during the event.
- For help finding data that illuminates the state of health, access, and safety, use this factsheet: Harnessing Data to Advance Safe Routes to Parks. Although it is targeted at park access, it contains helpful information for gathering existing data as well as collecting new data that can apply to mobility and access more generally.
2) Prioritize community members’ desires and elevate their leadership.
The initial engagement and data collection should be just the beginning of community members’ involvement. Center community interests in the conversation about how limited resources should be prioritized and how projects should unfold. By cultivating authentic relationships and involving neighbors and organizations in a meaningful way, you can support community-led stewardship.