In an era where underserved and disadvantaged populations are demanding an end to inequities throughout American society, it should come as no surprise that a theme for the 3rd annual Multimodal and Transit Summit on Nov. 23 is “mobility justice.”
The summit, organized by the Transport Hartford Academy at the Center for Latino Progress, is being held virtually from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and the keynote panel is titled “Pathways to Mobility Justice: the Middle, the Margins, and Beyond.”
The event includes a pre-summit walking audit of the transportation-related issues on Park Street in Hartford from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., followed by a keynote panel and another 12 sessions on a wide variety of transportation topics.
But what is mobility justice? Anthony Cherolis, coordinator of the Transport Hartford Academy, offered that what much of Connecticut has now is not mobility justice.
He said a really good example of this is the state’s current bus system. He said it is time-consuming and inconvenient for many of its users – it sometimes takes two hours by bus – each way – for Hartford residents to almost get to their jobs, which can include a long walk because the closest bus routes don’t actually reach their jobs. And that’s when the buses are running, he said, because bus schedules are significantly reduced on evenings and weekends.
Cherolis also said that over 30% of Hartford households don’t have a vehicle, and the city lacks a safe network of bike routes or top-notch pedestrian facilities. Pedestrian fatalities have spiked in recent years, particularly in the state’s largest cities. New Haven has already had 12 fatalities among vulnerable users, those walking or biking, in 2020.
“For too long our transportation system has been focused on moving cars, even in communities where car ownership is low,” Cherolis said. “That is both unjust and it increases driving and air pollution in communities where motor vehicle traffic is the heaviest. In the Northeast, communities of color breathe 66% more air pollution from vehicles.”
The summit’s keynote panel is meant to highlight the perspectives of three women who are experts in their fields:
• Moderator Dr. Destiny Thomas is an anthropologist planner and change agent, founder and CEO of Thrivance Group, who was recently featured on Good Morning America for her leadership in the urban planning sector. At Thrivance Group, Thomas works to bring transformative justice into public policy, urban planning and community development. She believes race, place, and joy define individual and community outcomes.
• Dr. Adonia Lugo is a cultural anthropologist and chair of the Urban Sustainability Department at Antioch University Los Angeles. Lugo began investigating sustainable infrastructure during her graduate studies at UC Irvine, when she co-created CicLAvia in Los Angeles. After receiving her doctorate in 2013, she worked at the League of American Bicyclists in Washington as a national leader in building better “human infrastructure.” Today she is looking for ways to bring her racial justice expertise from the field of bicycle advocacy into equitable and sustainable mobility at large. In addition to her role as an educator, Lugo is involved in a number of projects to expand support for mobility justice as a core organizer of The Untokening and the manager of the Bike Equity Network email list.
• Angie Schmitt is one of the country’s best-known writers on the topic of sustainable transportation and was a longtime national editor at Streetsblog. Her writing and commentary have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and NPR. She is the founder of the new Cleveland-based firm 3MPH Planning and Consulting that is focused on pedestrian safety. Her book, “Right of Way: Race, Class and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America,” was published in August by Island Press.
The discussion will set the table for 12 more sessions over the course of the day on Monday, Nov. 23.
“We like to set up the keynote as the base of the pyramid. The keynote sets the tone for the rest of the summit sessions,” Cherolis said. “That’s not where transportation conferences usually start, but it’s how we’ve done it. It’s a more human-focused approach.” Sara Bronin, founder of Desegregate Connecticut and chair of Hartford’s Planning and Zoning Commission, said transportation is connected to housing, where disparities exist.
“As we work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical that we work together to ensure that our interconnected transportation systems and housing options are more sustainable, affordable, and accessible,” Bronin said in a news release.
Bronin is also taking part in this year’s summit as a moderator of a session titled, “Equitable Development is Sustainable Development: Desegregating Connecticut.”
Since early 2017, the Transport Hartford program has been working to build an informed and engaged community of multimodal advocates in and around Hartford.
11 a.m. webinar opens
11:30 a.m program begins
11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m.:
• Keynote – Pathways to Mobility Justice: the Middle, the Margins, and Beyond
1:30 p.m.-2:55 p.m. – Afternoon Session 1:
• Public Transit – Pandemic Response and Safe Practices – Track A
• New and Existing Greenways and the Benefits During COVID – Track B
• Build Back Better: Cap-and-Invest in Sustainable Transportation – Track C
• Equitable Development is Sustainable Development: Desegregating Connecticut – Track D
3:05 p.m.-4:30 p.m. – Afternoon Session 2:
• The Future of Bus Transit and BRT – Track A
• Complete Streets, Art in the Streets, and Vision Zero – Track B
• Responding to the Needs of the Post Covid Commuter – Track C
• Turning Vacant Lots and Crumbling Buildings into Transit Oriented Development – Track D
4:30 p.m.-6 p.m. (BYO Dinner / Round Table)
• Moving Through the Pandemic – Micromobility Solutions
6:05 p.m.-7:30 p.m. – Evening Session 3:
• Fighting for Transit in the COVID Era: Strategies and Lessons Learned
• Clean Transportation for Rural Communities
• The Road to Clean Air: A Nationwide Transition to Electric Vehicles
EDITOR’S NOTE: Coverage of the 2020 Multimodal and Transit Summit, as well as a follow-up series on related transportation issues, is being partially underwritten by the Transport Hartford Academy at the Center for Latino Progress.
Underwriting is funding for journalism that will be reported and produced independently, without prior review by the funder before publication.