Racial and Socioeconomic Inequities in Active Transportation Safety

Historic transportation policy and investments have favored motor vehicle users at the expense of those who walk or bike. Further, historical disinvestment and disenfranchisement of historically marginalized communities has been attributed to reports of the over-representation of people of color among pedestrian and bicyclist victims of  traffic crashes, serious injuries, and fatalities. Additional impacts to users from embedded racial and economic systemic biases can include increased exposure to dangerous or unhealthy conditions such as proximity to high-speed, high-volume roadways; exposure to harmful air, noise, and heat pollution; and over-policing that discourage walking, biking, and rolling while negatively influencing health, life expectancy, and access to community resources. Existing research has sought to document racial and socioeconomic inequities in safety and health outcomes in active transportation. This research has been hampered by limitations in the available data and analytical methods. There is need for further research to identify and address specific racial and socioeconomic inequities in transportation outcomes, the distribution of investments, and practices applied during planning, project development, design, operations, and maintenance. Research is needed to strengthen the knowledge base on the extent and root causes of safety and health inequities experienced by people walking, bicycling, and rolling as well as the practices that can create those inequities. Furthermore, research should assess and address the data and methods available to practitioners to identify and mitigate inequities in active transportation already in place.  This research efforts should build upon the foundation provided by previous research, including but not limited to NCHRP Research Report 893: Systemic Pedestrian Safety Analysis and NCHRP Research Report 803: Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation Along Existing Roads – ActiveTrans Priority Tool Guidebook and closely coordinate with and contribute to research currently underway for NCHRP 08-150, “Tools to Integrate Equity into Active Transportation and Safety Investments,” NCHRP 07-31, “State DOT and Tribal Use of Active Transportation Data: Practices, Sources, Needs, and Gaps,” and NCHRP 08-165, “Use of Active Transportation Data in Decision-Making.” The objective of this research is to develop a guide that (1) identifies and documents the inequities in the systemic, operational, and safety conditions and outcomes for racially and socioeconomically marginalized people; (2) identifies and evaluates the limitations, gaps, and biases of data sources and applications that might illuminate inequitable differences in exposure to unsafe conditions, such as high-speed arterials and highways, and air, noise, or heat pollution; (3) proposes improvements to data collection practices; and (4) introduces and provides technical instruction on analytical methods and applications that integrate racial and socioeconomic considerations into decision-making by state departments of transportation (DOT) to avoid or mitigate active transportation inequities in practice. The research should build upon concepts and strategies that:   (1) Evaluate differences in access to safe active transportation infrastructure, networks, and systems based upon race, ethnicity, land use, and income; (2) Consider differences in how bicyclists and pedestrians are perceived and treated by motorists and the enforcement community based upon race, ethnicity, land use, and income;  (3) Evaluate differences in overall safety outcomes for racially and socioeconomically diverse populations of active transportation users with the understanding that safety is a broader concept than simply protection from carelessly or negligently driven motor vehicles;   (4) Consider the policies and practices that result in inequitable outcomes in enforcement, land use, and transportation investment decision-making. Identify how existing or additional data would support project decisions that avoid vehicular trauma to active transportation users from historically marginalized populations and offer redress for historic underinvestment.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $750000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 08-166

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Weeks, Jennifer

  • Start Date: 20230927
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01847359
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 08-166
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 26 2022 4:50PM