ITE Journal - July 2020 - 18

| member to member

A Passion for Active Transportation
Active transportation has been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, with cities in the United
States and across the world closing down streets to traffic temporarily or permanently for residents
to bike, walk, and recreate. Two ITE members share their perspective on the importance of active
transportation, and emphasize the criticality of planning and shaping our communities around it.

Bill Schultheiss, P.E. (M)
Vice President and Director of
Sustainable Safety, Toole Design
Education
Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineering,
Northeastern University, 1998
Professional Appointments/Affiliations
15-year member of National
Committee on Uniform Traffic
Control Devices-Bicycle Subcommittee
Association of Pedestrian
and Bicycle Professionals
StrongTowns
Fun Fact
Bill recently started learning
to play the banjo.

ITE JOURNAL: What makes a community livable? What are some of the hallmarks of these
places and their streets?
SCHULTHEISS: A livable community is a place where people have access to the necessities
of life (food, housing, jobs, recreation, commerce, fellowship) and the ability to access them
in a sustainable and safe manner. They are truly multimodal, allowing people the freedom to
choose how they move. Street design doesn't degrade or endanger people outside of vehicles.
These places are often recognized as "walkable communities" such as parts of Ann Arbor,
MI, USA; Boston, MA, USA; Greenville, SC, USA; Seattle, WA, USA; or Victoria, British
Columbia, Canada. Their cozy main streets prioritize pedestrians, not through traffic. I am
heartened to see transportation and political leaders acknowledging that we cannot solve
our traffic (or societal) problems by continuing to prioritize expanding road capacity to serve
single-use, auto-dependent development. Walkable communities should not be expensive and
exclusive exceptions. They should be available to everyone.
ITEJ: COVID-19 has highlighted and exacerbated ethical disparities in our cities. What
opportunity does this present to transportation professionals who want to help close the
equity gap?
SCHULTHEISS: Engineering ethics are too narrowly applied and understood. Ethics trainings
focus on corrupt business practices and fail to discuss ethical decision making applied to
street design and the equitable allocation of resources. I often see a lack of empathy for those
who are poor, disabled, or do not drive a vehicle-a consequence of the fact our profession is
middle-class and more than 80 percent white and male. The empathy gap is revealed in the
built environment where tens of thousands of bus stops have unsafe crossings and missing
sidewalks. It is revealed in research showing poor communities have lower quality infrastructure and disproportionately higher
rates of pedestrian crashes than wealthier
communities. To address this reality, Toole
Design put out a call for our industry to
shift to a values-based decision-making
framework centered on Ethics, Empathy,
and Equity in the February ITE Journal.
Further, the Color of Law (Richard
Rothstein) and Dangerous By Design (Smart
Growth America) should be mandatory
reading for everyone in this profession and
incorporated into ethics courses.

Bill pictured with longtime friend and ITE member John LaPlante, who passed away in March of
this year, at the ITE Annual Meeting in Austin, TX, USA in 2019.
18

J u ly 2020

ite j o urn al

ITEJ: Active transportation has come to
the forefront during COVID-19. How can
we ensure these slow street trends will
continue after the pandemic?



ITE Journal - July 2020

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

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