ITE Journal - February 2020 - 22

| member to member

Equity at Work
Kelly Rodgers (M), executive director of Streetsmart, has nearly 20 years of city planning
experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors working in sustainable transportation,
green infrastructure, and community design. She speaks to ITE Journal about Streetsmart, public
health, and how transportation professionals can incorporate equity into their everyday work to
make better communities for all.

Kelly Rodgers (M)
Executive Director, Streetsmart
Portland, OR, USA
Activities
WELL Movement Advisor
ITE Health and Transportation Task
Force and Working Group
ITE Health and Transportation
Call for Technical Resources
APHA Equity in Land Use and
Transportation Policy Statement (2019)
IPATH Transport & Health Performance
Metric Guidebook (2018-2019)
EcoDistrict Protocol Advisory
Committee (2014-2015)
Professional Affiliations
American Public Health Association (APHA)
International Professional Association
of Transport and Health (IPATH)
Women's Transportation Seminar (WTS)
Transportation Research Board (TRB)
Association of Pedestrian and
Bicycle Professionals (APBB)
American Planning Association (APA)
Education
Ph.D. (Expected 2021), Urban
Studies, Portland State University
Master of Landscape Architecture,
University of British Columbia
Bachelor of Arts in Urban and Regional
Planning, Miami University

22

Fe bruar y 2020

ite j ou rn al

ITE JOURNAL: You started Streetsmart in 2016 with the goal of integrating climate,
health, and equity into transportation projects. What are some of the specific ways that
the organization helps transportation professionals achieve that?
RODGERS: Initially, I founded Streetsmart as a way to bridge research and practice by
synthesizing research and making it actionable for practitioners. In particular, I wanted
to illustrate the co-benefits (or disbenefits) associated with transportation strategies to
understand the full impact of plans and projects on communities, many of which are not
considered in decision-making. However, the more I talked with potential users about
Streetsmart, the more I came to appreciate that practitioners felt ill-equipped to address
climate, health, and equity issues in transportation-despite the high interest in the topics
and sense of urgency around them. So, we've decided to focus on climate, health, and
equity as the primary set of goals in Streetsmart.
The beta version of Streetsmart will have 15 proven strategies that influence vehicle
miles traveled, greenhouse gas emissions, physical activity, walking, and bicycling.
Each strategy shows the evidence on their effectiveness, resources for implementation,
and guidance for integrating equity. We've realized equity cannot be a stand-alone goal
because equity is also about how everything gets done. Nearly every strategy can be an
opportunity to improve equity or, if done incorrectly, can exacerbate existing inequities.
We also emphasize collaboration with the public health field. Public health partners
can help create better health outcomes through transportation, of course, but they can
also help improve equity. Equity is a core value in public health. Generally, public health
professionals consider population-wide impacts from changes in the built environment
and are also sensitive to impacts across different population subgroups. Public health
tends to be mindful of "unintended consequences," which is something the transportation
industry should heed. A narrow focus on specific transportation objectives should not
come at the expense of other community goals. This awareness is what Streetsmart wants
to encourage.
ITEJ: There are many ways in which data is used to measure equity-how can data be
an effective tool in letting transportation professionals know when and where more
equitable options are necessary?
RODGERS: Public health professionals are good partners because they ask smart
questions and have access to other types of data that may be useful for understanding the
disparate impacts of transportation plans and projects on transportation-disadvantaged
populations. They also have tools like health impact assessments that can reveal inequities
in a process, plan, or project. Within the field of transportation, environmental justice
analysis can accomplish similar tasks. Both of these approaches call for disaggregating
data in order to understand impacts on specific populations of concern.
Because environmental justice work requires avoiding adverse impacts to low-income
and minority populations, it is important to understand the demographics of the area in



ITE Journal - February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ITE Journal - February 2020

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