Why are Black Americans and other people of color disproportionately victims of overly aggressive police enforcement and brutality while walking, running, riding bicycles, taking public transit, or while driving? This podcast explores the ways in which people of color have had their mobility arrested.
Hosted by Charles T. Brown, the founder and CEO of Equitable Cities LLC—an urban planning, policy, and research firm working at the intersection of transportation, health, and equity. Charles will take you to the streets of Philly, the sidewalks of Seattle, the neighborhoods of Kansas City, and elsewhere around the U.S. In each place, he’ll ask: What can we do to change the outcomes when people of color step out their door to exist in the world?
We have a problem in America. That problem is pedestrians getting hit and killed by cars. It’s an issue that government officials and transportation professionals alike spend a good deal of time and money trying to solve.
And while this affects every community in the country, it disproportionately affects Black and brown communities. It’s just one way that Black Americans have had their mobility arrested.
Why is it that Black and brown folks are the ones most likely to be struck and killed? And why did fatalities go up in 2020 even when driving went down?
Today, we’re exploring why these preventable injuries and deaths happen and what can be done about it.
For many Americans, taking public transit can be a difficult daily trial. Depending on where people live, and where they’re going, buses or trains may only come once every thirty minutes to an hour. Or, in some cases, they may not come at all. Riders might have to transfer one, two, maybe three times, and even walk or roll long distances between each stop.
Many bus stops lack important amenities, like benches, shelters, and lights, so that commuters can wait comfortably for their next ride. And not every bus stop is ADA-compliant, so public transit for people with disabilities - particularly Black people with disabilities - can be especially inconvenient, and even dangerous.
Our public transit systems are supposed to be designed for everyone. Instead, bus and train lines often leave behind people living in low-income communities of color.
Inequity in public transit is just one way that Black Americans, particularly Black women and disabled commuters, have had their mobility arrested. Today, we’re untangling all the ways that transit networks are failing the people they are meant to serve.
Until February of 2022, Seattle was the largest city in the country where it was illegal for anyone - kids, adults or senior citizens - to ride a bike without a helmet.
There’s no question that helmets save lives. But some people just aren’t going to wear them, whether or not it’s illegal. Helmet laws are similar to sidewalk riding laws. They’re intended to keep people safe, but they also give police officers an excuse to stop cyclists.
So how and why did Seattle decide to repeal their helmet law?
Helmet laws are just one way that Black Americans, unhoused cyclists and other marginalized communities have had their mobility arrested. Today we’re exploring how enforcement of helmet laws can give way to racial and economic injustice.
Sidewalk Riding II: Micromobility & Persons with Disabilities
Today, we’re breaking down the tension on the sidewalk between micro mobility devices, vulnerable pedestrians, and people with disabilities. Micro mobility devices include bicycles, e-bikes, electric scooters, electric skateboards, shared bicycles, and electric pedal assisted bicycles. Although micro mobility continues to be a work in progress, micro mobility vehicles can serve an important role in transportation equity. Many transportation experts want to increase adoption of micro mobility infrastructure in under-served, under-resourced neighborhoods. But in the last episode, we talked about how sidewalk riding laws are used as a tool of oppression against Black and brown cyclists. And the same is true for people learning to use shared micro mobility systems. Now, the question becomes how to expand micro mobility while protecting all community members. That means people on their way to work, people with disabilities, children, seniors, and everyone else who is trying to exist in public space.
Many states and cities in the US have laws that make it illegal to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk. But, are these laws keeping people safe? Or are they another way that Black Americans and other people of color have had their mobility arrested?
Today, we investigate how law enforcement uses cycling infractions to perpetuate systemic racism in under-resourced and underserved communities. We’ll talk to Patric McCoy, who was stopped by Chicago police.
We also welcome Oboi Reed and Dr. Jesus Barajas to speak about their activism and research.
Next month, we’ll continue this theme on sidewalk riding by exploring the possibilities and pitfalls of micromobility devices like eScooters and eBike docking stations. We’ll also explore the importance of making room for everyone to travel safely, particularly persons with disabilities.
When you walk around a city, there are many rules you follow - or maybe, you don't follow them. You might not think about them too much. Rules like, walk on the sidewalk. Wait for the walk signal when crossing an intersection. Don't cross in the middle of the block. When you break those rules in the U.S., we call it jaywalking, and it’s illegal. But most people who jaywalk don’t think about it as a crime. In fact, most Americans admit to having jaywalked. Yet the data shows that police enforce jaywalking laws disproportionately in neighborhoods with limited pedestrian infrastructure - fewer crosswalks, sidewalks and signals, primarily underserved Black and brown communities. And so many instances of police brutality against Black Americans start when we are stopped for minor infractions like jaywalking.
Jaywalking laws are just one way that Black Americans have had their mobility arrested. Today, we’re exploring the war on our right to walk in the street, and what you can do about it.
If you want to know about mobility justice
This is the podcast to follow. Really well done. In addition to his command of the subject, the host’s interview style brings out great content from those who join him on the show
It's about your right of way
Being able to walk around and get from place to place safety ought to be protected as a human right. But it's not. In fact, people's need to get around it's often used to punish them, part of an exploitative framework that criminalizes people, rather than behavior. This well researched and informative podcast will both upset you and inspire you to call for change. Mobility is a human right.
There’s really not another podcast like this. Helps make new connections to understand everyday racism and oppression: when you can see it, you can stop it. Charles T. Brown is a world class thinker and elevates voices of lives experience.