Photo Multicultural Communities for Mobility

Vanessa Carter | KCET

A leader in California’s urban planning scene, Bill Fulton, once characterized Los Angeles as a “reluctant metropolis” — unwilling to accept that sprawl had hit a wall, unable to see common connections between neighborhoods to create a cohesive region, and unlikely to overcome the social disparities and racial tension that twice produced civil unrest.

But as we witness a paradigm shift in how Angelenos move through the region, how Angelenos understand the interconnectedness of our region, how Angelenos are unifying across difference to fight for a more equitable region, we think that Los Angeles may be reluctant no more.

Talking with 40 advocates and organizations across the Southland, we have seen signs that the once disconnected and dystopian L.A. is fading away. With a new vigor, social justice organizers, policy advocates, government agencies, business leaders, and others are engaging in how to move us more sustainably through our region and, at the same time, how to swell the numbers of those supporting transportation equity. We call that last part movement building.

Last week, as part of this L.A. in Motion series, our director Manuel Pastor explained the “Just Growth” frame — one that is big enough to encompass L.A.’s wide-ranging transportation equity movement — asserting that social inclusion is the key to achieving economic prosperity and sustainability.

This week, we run through the agenda for transportation equity being brought together by our region’s social-movement leaders. How is transportation equity defined? What does it entail? Who are some of the organizations innovating in the different niches of this work? If these questions pique your interest, read on.
What do we mean by Transportation Equity?

As we look ahead to upcoming articles in this series, it may be useful to define what we mean by “transportation equity.” Indeed, this is a difficult concept to define, as it must capture a broad range of issues facing the Southland — from transit-oriented development to bicycles to goods movement (we dig into these and some other issues a little deeper below).

But we believe the following definition does just this by highlighting outcomes (both benefits and burdens for our communities) as well as the importance of public participation in planning processes. In our view, transportation equity means:

  • Equitable access to quality, affordable transportation options and so employment, services, amenities, and cultural destinations;
  • Shared distribution of the benefits and burdens of transportation systems and investments, such as jobs and pollution, respectively; and
  • Partnership in the planning process that results in shared decision-making and more equitable outcomes for disadvantaged communities while strengthening the entire region. {….}