Yes, the fight to remake streets for the use of all people, and not only their cars, is a social justice issue.


The AARP understands it, too.

Crossing the street shouldn’t have to mean crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. While unsafe streets disproportionately affect older people, safe streets are for everyone. It is critically important to adopt policies that ensure our streets are designed for all who use them — pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transportation users of all ages. All of us need safe and efficient streets. That won’t happen without change.

It’s undoubtedly important to resist harmful agendas, whether propagated by faraway partisan bureaucrats engorged with payola bucks, or local officials just down the street.

Arguably, the local officials are more accessible when it comes to compensatory re-training. It isn’t always the case, but it can be a place to start.

Muting the excesses of our car-centric street grid and making it more responsive to the needs of humans isn’t about neighborhood safety alone, or the health benefits of alternative modes of transport, or even civic aesthetics. 

All these matter, but as this article makes very clear, car-centric street design perpetuates inequality. That makes it a social justice issue, one that budding community leaders need to be better informed about.

The article has been linked here before, but let’s do it again. A refresher course in truthfulness is never a bad thing. There was a time when I didn’t understand these concepts, either. Happily, there’s ample guidance for those wishing to learn more about the importance of street grid reform.

New Albany inched forward with last year’s two-way reversion. We can do far better.

The Hidden Inequality Of America’s Street Design, by Diana Budds (Fast Company)

New data shows that pedestrians in the U.S. are more likely to die if they’re poor, a person of color, uninsured, or old.

Urban design has a long history of perpetuating racial and economic inequality, and the burden of bad streets is still being disproportionately borne by underserved populations. According to a new report, pedestrians in the United States have a higher risk of being killed by cars if they’re people of color, aged 65 or older, uninsured, or from a low-income household.

The report, called “Dangerous by Design 2016,” is authored by the National Complete Streets Coalition, a working group within the nonprofit Smart Growth America, which supports socially equitable, environmentally responsible, and economically healthy urban design strategies. The report focuses on designing streets for multi-modal transportation, and ranks every state and more than 100 major metropolitan areas by what it calls the Pedestrian Danger Index, or PDI, which assesses the likelihood of a car hitting a pedestrian by comparing the rate of pedestrian deaths in an area to the rate of people who walk to work. (SGA calls this the best available measure of how many people are likely to be out walking every day.)

“The leading goal is equity in implementation for all avenues of transportation,” says Emiko Atherton, director of the National Complete Streets Coalition. “It really is about not only treating everyone equitably, but also encouraging departments of transportation to focus on the most underserved.”

Put simply: Bad street design is disproportionately impacting historically marginalized groups in America …