Why Some Neighborhoods Do Not Want a ‘Slow Street’

Well-intentioned transportation projects during the COVID-19 pandemic to slow or remove traffic from city streets tended to serve mostly wealthy, white neighborhoods, said equity activists at the CoMotion LA conference.

Government Technology

BY SKIP DESCANT

NOVEMBER 20, 2020

Slowing down streets and giving the right of way to bikes and walkers during the COVID-19 pandemic has been praised by many in transportation and community development circles. It was seen as the sort of common sense step for government to take when traffic all but vanished across cities as residents suddenly began working from home while also scaling back family extracurriculars. These moves, however, were often hastily arranged in what some activists say were namely in more well-to-do white neighborhoods, and they may have — if not exacerbated inequality — most certainly exposed it. “I think a lot of people saw it as this opportunity… to polish off agendas that they had,” said Naomi Doerner, director of equity, diversity and inclusion at Nelson/Nygaard, a transportation planning consulting firm. Doerner was speaking on a panel at the CoMotion LA conference on Wednesday dedicated to “rethinking our urban spaces.”


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