Essential Readings on Transportation, Race, and Equity for Faculty, Students

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Our streets are the backdrop for social justice.

On our streets, we see discriminatory policing targeting people of color. On our streets, we see protests to dismantle systemic racism. On our streets, there is more danger for pedestrians of color, as the rate of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 is 12% higher for Latinos and 48% higher for Blacks than whites.

So why are our street planners mostly white, and mostly male?

In fact, 88% of practicing urban and transportation planners self-identified as white, according to a 2013 American Planning Association Survey.

That’s why, in the summer of 2020, Portland State University’s Urban Studies and Planning department reviewed the syllabi for core courses to determine how many readings and assignments were on topics of race and equity, and how many authors were women or people of color.

Limited Focus on Transportation, Race, and Equity in Readings/Assignments

Jennifer Dill, a professor at Portland State University, recognized that many reading lists used by university faculty lacked transportation equity.

“I found several lists about race and urbanismurban planning, and design, but not much focused on transportation,” Dill wrote on her faculty webpage. “And, nothing that was geared at university faculty and course syllabi, not to mention covering the full range of transportation planning and engineering.”

So, she started making a list.

She started with resources already shared by mobility justice advocates, like Tamika Butler and Keith Benjamin.

Then, she enlisted the help of others, like Jesus Barajas, a professor at UC Davis, and Kendra Levine, a librarian at UC Berkeley’s Institute.

Barajas and Levine also wanted to ensure that the readings and assignments given by university faculty were diverse.

The trio emailed and social-media-messaged other professors and social justice advocates to ask for more resources on the topics of race, racism, equity, and justice in the transportation field.

On Aug. 10, 2020, they released their list: Transportation, Race and Equity: A Syllabi Resource List for Faculty.

“The objective is to collect readings and other resources that university faculty can use in their courses on transportation planning and engineering, so that we can better address issues of racism, equity, and justice in our field,” Dill wrote.

The List’s Readings on Transportation, Race, and Equity

The list, kept in a public Zotero library, is constantly updated.

It contains mostly peer-reviewed journal articles right now, but could grow to include other curriculum resources, such as assignments and modules.

readings on transportation, race, and equity List users can search for key terms or browse by topic folders, such as:

  • active transport
  • walking/pedestrian
  • environmental justice, transportation, and the environment
  • mobility and immigrants
  • transit rider justice/activism

To suggest new resources, you can fill out this form.

“Please share widely! (And feel free to suggest other resources for the list.),” Barajas Tweeted.

Beyond the planning profession, we think this list is also relevant to the public health profession because inequities in how our streets and communities are built contribute to inequities in health. Where you live plays a big role how long you will live.

That’s why we launched a workgroup to discuss transportation equity for Latino communities last year and will be releasing our report on September 30.

Share this list of readings on transportation, race, and equity with students and faculty in both planning and public health programs.

By The Numbers By The Numbers

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Pedestrians survive when hit by a car at 40 MPH

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