Visualizing walking and biking infrastructure needs to advocate for equity-focused transportation investments.
Auto-centric city design in the United States has historically limited Black residents' access to transportation and vital necessities and has severely curtailed their civic engagement. Black families in Columbia, Missouri, for instance, are less likely to own cars and twice as likely to walk or bike to work than the average city resident. And Columbia, like many US cities, currently has no system for monitoring transportation equity issues such as walking and biking safety or infrastructure issues such as buckled sidewalks and incomplete bike lanes. This lack of tracking also means the city has no way of examining infrastructure gaps for underserved populations, which means the government cannot prioritize investments.
Through this project, Local Motion aimed to identify how structural racism has influenced existing transportation infrastructure and where new investments are most needed in Columbia. In partnership with the Unity Foundation, Local Motion has developed a crowdsourced reporting and mapping app called We Move, which allows residents to report street-level walking, biking, and accessibility safety issues. We Move allows Local Motion and community leaders to collect resident-sourced entries in targeted Vision Zero priority neighborhoods about key transportation and infrastructure disparities. Priority neighborhoods include those with higher proportions of Black residents, residents with low incomes, and residents who do not own a vehicle.
Building off the app, Local Motion plans to build a data visualization website including statistics on transportation, demographics, and community-identified needs to share with community leaders. Local Motion has also worked with a neighborhood leadership council, made up of individuals who live and work in the priority neighborhoods, to make sure the app and data visualizations are easy to use and have actionable information needed for advocacy campaigns.
The data visualization will allow Local Motion and leaders in Columbia’s Vision Zero priority neighborhoods to communicate transportation inequities to the Columbia city government as well as other state and local agencies. Their work identifies needs for safer biking and walking and upgraded transportation infrastructure and informs the use of future tax funds for municipal capital improvement projects to target structural racism in transportation.