Social equity has become a hot-button topic. Equity refers to achieving justice for marginalized communities who have been left behind by ensuring that they have the resources they need to catch up. But how do you actually achieve equitable outcomes in such a challenging and complex field like transportation and mobility? And what does mobility equity look like in a time when people have more transportation options than ever before?

Uber, bike-share, scooter-share, and other mobility options represent exciting new ways to move around our cities. Yet these new options also represent ways that transportation inequities can be exacerbated. So if new mobility options are going to play a role in uplifting equity across our society, environment, and economy, we need to focus a lot more attention on developing these systems with equity at their core.

For us, mobility equity means much more than just having equal access to transportation or mobility options. Mobility equity also means maximizing clean air benefits and economic opportunities, especially in low-income communities of color.

We put together a framework that lays out a mobility equity vision with three goals:

 

  1. Increase access to affordable, efficient, safe, reliable mobility options
  2. Reduce air pollution
  3. Increase access to economic opportunities

To achieve mobility equity, these three goals must be the filter that we use to make decisions about what kinds of mobility options we should allow on our streets. We need interconnected solutions to address interconnected problems that our communities face. Mobility options should not only get people from A to B, they should also be a mechanism for creating pathways into opportunity and to guarantee that anyone regardless of income, race, or zip code can lead a happy and healthy life.

Three key steps to achieve mobility equity
  1. Identify the mobility needs of the community.
  2. Conduct an equity analysis to compare outcomes of various mobility options.
  3. Place decision-making power in the hands of the local community.

Under what specific circumstances would the Mobility Equity Framework be most useful?

We see five potential ways to do this, although our Framework is adaptable to pretty much any projects or idea.

1. Are you conducting research on how to position equity in transportation planning and decision-making?

This framework lays out a process for how to prioritize equity and community engagement in transportation planning and decision making. The mobility equity analysis allows communities assess and compare transportation and mobility projects by their impacts on low-income communities of color.

2. Do you need equity scoring criteria for a project?

The mobility equity analysis provides 12 mobility equity indicators that can be used to determine how projects perform on equity and sustainability measures. The indicators and metrics cover a range of topics, from mobility to health to economic opportunities–and can be customized and selected based on a community’s needs and priorities.

3. Do you have dollars to invest in a mobility project?

If there is already money allocated for a transportation or mobility project that will benefit low-income communities of color, check out the framework for additional tools to assess mobility needs, run an equity analysis, and to center the community in the decision-making around the project.

4. Are you trying to build an equity component into to a shared mobility program? 

If you are a shared mobility company or if you are a city developing a public-private partnership with a mobility company, our framework can provide best practices around community engagement and how to build equity into your program.

Check out the framework to see if it applies to your work. If you have questions or want our feedback on any items on this list that apply to you, let us know. If you have other ideas for how the Mobility Equity Framework can plug into your work, let us know.

Later this year, we’ll be publishing an analysis that applies our framework to the coming transportation revolution of self-driving cars and shared mobility. Watch this space for details.

Hana Creger is Greenlining’s Environmental Equity Program Manager. Contact her by email or follow her on Twitter.