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Arrested Mobility Podcast

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Season 2 Episode 6 - Unmasking the Bias- The Trouble with Automated Traffic Enforcement

Automated Traffic Enforcement, or ATE, is spreading across the country very fast. There are situations where ATE can reduce speeding, and theoretically it reduces contact between police officers and Black and Brown drivers for traffic stops. But, some believe that ATE can be used to perpetuate discrimination, racism, and abuses of power rather than support equity.

Fare evasion can cost transit agencies across the country tens, even hundreds of millions of dollars. It affects their ability to provide consistent bus and train service, which in turn affects riders on their way to work, school, home, or wherever they need to go. If cities are going to enforce transit fares, it must be done in an equitable way.

In a recent lecture with urban planning students at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Charles spoke to students about the delicate balance required of 15-minute cities, if they are to be adopted in the United States. 15-minute cities might work in Europe, but urban planners face unique challenges when designing American cities and neighborhoods.

In Central Wisconsin, undocumented immigrants from Latin America make up the majority of the workforce in the dairy industry. Although these undocumented folks are allowed to own and register vehicles, they can’t get driver’s licenses without legal residency. As a result, police in rural Wisconsin often racially profile drivers of color, knowing that they may not have a license to be on the road.

Many Black students live in over-policed, under-funded communities. School should be a safe space for them, a refuge from surveillance and a place to explore. But almost 70% of public high schools and middle schools have police officers on site, and Black students have contact with police more often than White students. When there’s police inside the school, and police outside the school, law enforcement is a constant presence in these students’ lives.

In a majority Black and Latino neighborhood of Hammond, Indiana, children are clambering over and under stopped train cars to get to school. These trains are halted by rail traffic at pedestrian intersections, and there are not a lot of enforceable laws to keep them moving. Blocked crossings can pose an inconvenience, or a deadly obstacle, to Americans of all kinds. But in the United States, we usually find that the people living around train tracks are Black and Brown folks who are living in a state of arrested mobility.

We’ll be covering more major themes in equity, but also diving into current events and injustices – topics like railroads disrupting Black communities, the presence of police officers in schools, food insecurity and food deserts, and much more.

Centering Intersectionality in Public Transit
Photo by Linus Ekenstam on Unsplash

Today, we’re going to focus mostly on how Black women, femme and trans folks have had their mobility arrested while navigating public transit. We’re going to think about what equitable, accessible, intersectional mobility looks like.

bicycle and police car
Photo by Jeff Mendoza on Unsplash

Stopping and searching cyclists is just one way that Black and Brown Americans have had their mobility arrested. Today, we’re breaking down the arguments for why cyclists should have the same protection from police stops as people in cars.

Photo by Fiona Jackson on Unsplash
Photo by Fiona Jackson on Unsplash

In some rural Louisiana communities, converted levee paths are not always equitably accessible. These communities are more than 50% Black, but researchers have found that Black and White residents report different experiences when it comes to feeling safe and welcome on the levee.

E-scooter-under-lights
Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash

On May 15th, 2022, the Black community of St. Louis, Missouri gathered downtown to celebrate the Annie Malone May Day Parade. The day after the parade, Public Safety Director Dan Isom held a press conference. He said that groups of young people downtown had caused traffic and safety disruptions with electric scooters. The city decided to impose a 7pm curfew on electric scooters in the downtown area. Then, just a few weeks later, St. Louis banned electric scooters altogether in two downtown neighborhoods, including the area near the famous Gateway Arch monument.

Photo by Glenn Hansen on Unsplash

Zoning is just one way that Black Americans have had their mobility arrested. Today, we’re exploring how land-use policy has historically contributed to institutional racism, segregation, and social and economic inequality.

Barcelona street
Photo by Barcelona on Unsplash

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.

Photo by Kevin Nice on Unsplash

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. 

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.

man biking
Photo by Nazar Strutynsky on Unsplash

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.

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.

Photo by Ranurte on Unsplash
Photo by Ranurte on Unsplash

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.

Man standing with bike on sidewalk - Photo by Ving N on Unsplash
Photo by Ving N on Unsplash

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.

people in intersection
Photo by Jack Finnigan on Unsplash

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.

On this podcast, we’ll take you to the streets of Philly, the sidewalks of Seattle, and the neighborhoods of Kansas City. In each place, we’ll ask critical questions at the intersection of equity, social justice, and transportation.

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