Washington, DC
United States

DC Transportation Equity Network (DC TEN)
Social media handle(s)
@greater_greater_washington (Instagram), @ggwash (Twitter)

Overlayed data on structural transit inequities with health disparities to increase equitable decision-making and cross-sector collaboration among Washington, DC, agencies.

In Washington, DC, poor air quality and traffic violence associated with a structural under-investment in transit negatively affect public health in Black and Brown communities and communities with low incomes. However, public policy narratives have failed to tie these health outcomes to the decisions that have been made on how transit and pedestrian infrastructure are prioritized, funded, and allocated. Greater Greater Washington is taking action to fill this gap in the policy narrative by collecting data that explicitly ties transportation inequities to health disparities, creating a powerful tool that communities can use to advocate for transportation needs and cross-sector collaboration. 

Greater Greater Washington analyzed data on trips, transportation infrastructure, air quality, traffic death and injury, and demographics to present a spatialized representation of the links between structural disinvestment in transportation and negative health outcomes in Black and Brown communities. Their efforts were informed by the DC Transportation Equity Network coalition, which is primarily made up of direct service organizations addressing a variety of social issues. The DC Transportation Equity Network coalition provided early feedback on specific research questions and helped interpret findings; Greater Greater Washington updated its steering committee regularly on the progress of the project.

This work culminated in a report intended for the Council of the District of Columbia, the District of Columbia Departments of Health and Transportation, and the deputy mayors overseeing those departments. The report aimed to help decisionmakers better understand the intersections in their respective work and foster improved collaborative decision-making to advance health equity. The report found that neighborhoods with a median annual income below $50,000 and neighborhoods where the majority of residents are Black or Hispanic experience higher levels of health problems associated with pollution and traffic violence, such as asthma and traffic fatalities. Information was also disseminated to the public and to nonprofit community organizations through fact sheets and a free public webinar, in efforts to strengthen support for equitable transportation decision-making that incorporates a health lens.