The most marginalized people and communities in our society are especially stretched thin and put at increased risk during this outbreak. As unemployment soars, people without a safety net are in a very precarious position. And those with essential jobs who typically rely on transit face serious challenges and difficult choices just to get around.
So as all levels of government are making emergency changes to the transportation system, it is vital that decision makers, agency staff and community leaders keep marginalized communities and vulnerable people at the forefront of each change. And The Untokening has some ideas for how to do just that.
The Untokening is a “a multiracial collective that centers the lived experiences of marginalized communities to address mobility justice and equity.” Their “Mobility Justice Responses to COVID-19” were developed based on a broader and powerful set of mobility justice principles the collecting developed together over the course of years. So as changes and responses are developed, people at every stage should hold these principles in their minds.
- Do not plan future projects at a time when equitable public participation is impossible.
- Redirect mobility planning staff to meet essential needs for vulnerable communities.
- Support the organizing efforts of exploited delivery and mobility workers.
- Provide safety supplies for frontline workers and/or contractors. This applies to all mobility and service delivery providers, public and private.
- Make public transit and para-transit free.
- Center those most in need in any transportation improvements and connect them with services such as food distribution and medical care. Access to mental health care is essential.
- Define street safety in a way that centers the most oppressed and vulnerable groups. Policing is not a tool for healing our divided communities, and official street closures usually involve police. These are not a solution for equitable street safety in communities of color.
- Stop police harassment of delivery workers doing vital work — and ticketing people surviving by living in vehicles or on the street.
- Support efforts to release those immobilized in jails and detention centers.
- Direct public funding to community bicycle shops that can distribute vehicles and provide repair at a neighborhood level.
- Support neighborhood-based mobility employment at locally owned companies.
- Join mutual aid networks to keep neighborhoods strong.