What We’re Reading: Creating a Safe and Inclusive Community

  • Author: Andrew Carpenter
  • Date: January 25, 2018

Playing it safe

An essential part of mobility management is to ensure that people can reach their destinations with relative safety. If people face dangerous conditions getting to education, health care, or even entertainment, community vibrancy suffers due to its lack of accessibility.

This concept shows itself in many ways, but the most straightforward is the correlation between more driving and more deaths on the road. City Observatory finds that, after years of declining traffic fatalities, deaths have spiked in tandem with a rebound in vehicle miles traveled over the past three years. Earlier in 2017, City Observatory drew a connection between higher travel speeds and lower resident satisfaction with their transportation. This is because higher speeds don’t mean people get where they need to go faster, higher speeds mean they have to drive farther, and therefore endure the stresses of driving for longer. These pieces together provide an important argument for investing in alternatives for residents.

With that in mind, communities should note that it’s more than just the Millennial generation pushing for more walkable communities. Older adults appreciate denser environments that make it easy to walk to important destinations, which provides massive benefits for wellness and cultural inclusion. Small towns and suburbs can benefit just as much as big cities from making themselves more walkable.

Considering the big-picture implications of these concepts, planners and mobility managers should approach these ideas by first focusing on underlying assumptions for planning. Next City developed a quick guide of how communities should focus their innovation efforts to maximize community wellbeing. Asking questions like these is core to NCMM’s efforts in improving mobility, and we especially encourage smaller communities to join this conversation, despite the article’s focus on bigger cities.


Serving the community

Another vital element to creating effective mobility networks is making sure to consider and address some of the most vulnerable communities that usually fall through the cracks in community planning. Des Moines, Iowa, is doing just that by providing a shuttle for refugees that largely live in a transit desert. Focusing on residents that traditionally go unserved and directly connecting them to vital services provides them the opportunity to participate in society and to make the community more vibrant as a whole.

Planners should also understand how new developments or companies affect mobility for their constituents. But with transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft  hoarding their most useful movement data, it’s difficult for communities to manage them and employ the option to residents’ benefit. That said, some cities have begun to figure out creative means of measuring TNC movement despite companies’ resistance in order to benefit their communities.

In contrast, new bikeshare companies have made sure to work directly with cities, helping to refine their models in order to address the various concerns that crop up as new systems come into place. As a result, their collaboration is already influencing the dockless model, with companies and communities compromising on the idea of semi-dockless systems, where bikes continue to float wherever users bring them, but must be locked out of the way of passersby. Sharing information among all entities is what led to this rapid shift to serve local preferences, and mobility managers should be forward in promoting similar practices in their communities.

As shared mobility options like bikeshare and ridehailing continue to build their influence, communities will need to focus on how these services affect mobility. Gathering data on how people are moving around – while protecting people’s privacy – will help in the long run. This page, which believes that “policymakers should be aware of the potential positive and negative impacts on local communities,” provides a number of studies on how various types of shared-use modes impact movement, which can help local governments identify methods for measuring their own local mobility.


Image Credit: James Carnes, Flickr, CC


We’d love to hear from you!

Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Sage Kashner (kashner@ctaa.org).

Skip to toolbar