ITE Journal - May 2021 - 41

challenged with a safety crisis on their streets, the Hillsborough
MPO's plan considered equity indicators for prioritizing investment
on their High Injury Network corridors. These indicators include
consideration of the linear frontage of corridors that cut through
communities of concern; which corridors cut through a schools
two-mile walk shed; which corridors had transit services that create
higher pedestrian exposure rates; which corridors had excessive
posted/design speeds above national standards for the context;
and which corridors had excessive volumes for the context. These
indicators were in addition to the standard crash severity rates that
are often the only indicator. The simple inclusion of these additional
factors completely changed the priority of investment in the
corridors that had the highest exposure for non-motorized users that
could lead to continued serious and deadly crashes.

Transformative Vernacular
The call to evolve how we plan and design for equity in transportation
goes hand in hand with the need to evolve the words and language
we use in the transportation industry. When we develop practices
that prize efficiency or economic rationality more than effectiveness

Figure 2. Word cloud with terminology and ideas to move towards in
transportation.

for human needs, the vocabulary we use to describe those practices
perpetuates those ideas. If we do not update our vocabulary, we
will not be able to break from previous ways of thinking on how to
measure success in transportation planning and engineering. The
word cloud in Figure 2 provides examples of terminology and ideas to
move towards, while Figure 3 illustrates how we can move from some
current terms to a more equitable vernacular.
For example, as transportation professionals working on
corridor projects, we often follow design standards based on the
street's functional classification. These functional classifications
exist independent of the land-use/community context, and seldom
correspond to the modal priority of the street. Fortunately, many
cities are embracing a " Street Typology, " which brings together the
purpose of the street and the land use context for each street type.
Complete Streets manuals, such as Baltimore's new publication,
identify street types reflecting the purpose of the street and land
use context. The design standards also take into account the street's
modal priority and curbside needs.
Another critical change in practice involves community
engagement. The City of Baltimore's Equity in Planning Committee
states on its website that an equitable Baltimore " meaningfully
engages residents through inclusive and collaborative processes to
expand access to power and resources. " 3 As the committee suggests,
community engagement is not only about information sharing, but
about empowering communities and recognizing their input as
invaluable to the implementation of an effective and equitable project.
As we develop our new best practices in addressing equity at
all points within our transportation industry, it is important for
us to identify potentially offensive or exclusive language. This
terminology is likely not globally applicable, but tailored to the
communities in our regions. Ask the community outreach and
equity specialists in your city for advice, as they will know which

Figure 3. The equity lens and moving from current terms (left) toward a more equitable vernacular (right).
w w w .i t e.or g

May 2021

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ITE Journal - May 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ITE Journal - May 2021

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