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Transportation Safety Means More Than Crashes: Beginning to Heal

See Part 1 of this blog discussing the issue of international and domestic transportation safety for women.

“Pink Transport” is a gender-segregated bus or train car that currently operates in over fifteen countries as a solution to personal safety for women. However, these gender specific mode options do not provide the capacity or service that make for equality and safety for women. Women entering the general boarding cars of trains-  which are now referred to as “men’s cars”- are targeted and harassed for not using the women-only cars. Women in cities like Beijing are even advised to dress more conservatively, and avoid wearing so-called “provocative” clothing like miniskirts. However, all of these transportation interventions and messaging puts the burden of personal safety solely on the victim of harassment.

With the goal of sustainability and the movement toward a greater non-auto mode split, the perception of safety on and around public transportation is paramount for success. People, especially women, will not travel on alternate means of transportation (bikes, bus, rail, etc.) if the system lacks the proper measures to protect personal safety. There are steps that agencies, the community, and women can take to help with this problem:

  1. Transit operators need to have the knowledge and practical steps to better deal with this issue. Sensitivity training, knowledge of proper actions to deal with crises, and a streamlined method of reporting these offenses to transit or local police could be implemented.
  2. Women should be encouraged to speak up or report offenses. Women need to feel empowered to recognize when harassment is occurring and how to report it. Public awareness campaigns in transit systems as well as on television and radio media could be used to increase awareness of the issue, provide easy information on reporting offenses, and help women to understand that they will be heard and action will be taken when they report harassment.
    Women are feeling more and more empowered to speak out and tell their stories of injustice, harassment, and sexual assault. Groups like the Collective Action for Safe Spaces DC and HollaBack help give women a platform to share their stories and avoid the isolating effect that harassment in a public spaces can bring. In the District, WMATA has a platform to submit instances of harassment on the Metrorail and Metrobuses but often this is after the fact.
  1. Harassment is everyone’s problem. The public must realize that everyone has a hand in making transportation systems safe. According to HollaBack, all it takes is harassers to have the mindset that their behavior is acceptable or will go unnoticed, and a community around the person that are unwilling to intervene. Everyone has the opportunity to make transportation systems safer for all users. 

Everyone can and should take part in ending harassment and violence against women both locally and globally. Harassers need to be confronted about their behaviors and made to understand that it is not acceptable, nor will it go unnoticed. It takes a community of allies to help stop this behavior and help defend women that may feel- in the moment- embarrassed, alone, and helpless.

No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something”- HollaBack

 

Christine E. Mayeur is an urban planner with a unique set of skills and interests. She has been called a “renaissance woman” by her coworkers and is interested in all things creative and challenging. Christine uses her history of working with communities through grass-roots organizations along with her planning skills to help plan transportation systems that meet the needs of all users. 

 

Lessons Learned from Building the District’s Vision Zero Plan

0728151919It may be cliché, but hindsight is 20/20.  At the end of every project, you know so much more than you did when you started the project. Nspiregreen had the privilege of leading the efforts to deliver Mayor Muriel Bower’s Vision Zero Action Plan

Here are five things we learned from the project:

  1. Meetings can happen over the summer; they just need to be different. Unlike some other Vision Zero plans, the District included public and stakeholder engagement as part of developing the plan. Throughout the summer months we visited all eight wards and hosted a youth summit. The public awareness events were outside of heavy pedestrian areas and included free promotional events. The sunglasses, water bottles, and fans were popular. For the youth summit, we used the interns from the Summer Youth Employment Program. We were able to use the insights of the summer interns to help build and shape our vision zero program.
  2. Public Engagement should be earlier in the process. The feedback from almost 3,000 survey responses was used to shape the strategies for the plan. If this was earlier in the process, the feedback from residents would have provided a framework for the agency partners to build upon when developing strategies.
  3. Involve other agencies in public engagement. The public awareness events were staffed by District Department of Transportation (DDOT) staff and the consultant team. Looking back, it might have been better to include staff and relevant promotional materials from other agencies. Some staff from other agencies did attend the youth summit with their interns from the Summer Youth Employment Program.
  4. Brainstorming does not work. While safety should be an all hands on deck approach, it was challenging for some agency representatives to understand the purpose of Vision Zero and why their agency should be involved. Too many agencies saw Vision Zero as a DDOT program that they would help publicize. Once there were draft strategies, agency representatives were more engaged, because they had something for reading and reacting. A different approach would be to categorize agencies as lead, support, and information sharing. Lead and support agencies would be involved in the brainstorm. The information sharing agencies could be engaged after there are draft strategies.
  5. Continuing the process. After the momentum of the plan, there should be continued events. Since the release of the Vision Zero, there has been a safety data hackathon, which allowed people to “play” with the data. DDOT is still engaging people on social media. In addition, Vision Zero bus shelter PSAs, Capital Bikeshare station PSAs, and Vision Zero Capital Bikeshare bikes are still in circulation.

 

Veronica O. Davis, PE is a transportation guru who uses her knowledge to spark progressive social change. As Co-owner and Principal of Nspiregreen, she is also responsible for the management of the major urban planning functions such as transportation planning, policy development, master planning, sustainability analysis, and long range planning. In July 2012, Veronica was recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House for her professional accomplishments and community advocacy, which includes co-founding Black Women Bike.





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