Social Justice Benefits

Perhaps the most important factor in walking and social justice is choice. When providing pedestrian facilities such as sidewalks and crosswalks, communities allow people to choose how they want to travel. One consequence of not installing these facilities is to force people to travel by personal vehicle or to engage in unsafe walking practices. For those who do not have the option to drive, such as adolescents, those unable to afford a car, and people with certain disabilities, this lack of choice in transportation creates an inconvenient and socially unjust barrier to mobility.

The high cost of car ownership means that low-income families will have to spend a greater portion their income on owning and operating a car or choose not have one. If automobile travel is the only feasible mode of transportation in a community, low-income families are placed at a large disadvantage with very limited mobility. By providing safe and convenient pedestrian facilities, the community can ensure that all citizens have access to a viable mode of transportation.

Social justice facts

  • Households with an annual income of less than $25,000 are nine times more likely to have no car than households with incomes of greater than $25,000 (NHTS 2001).
  • While only accounting for 12 percent of the population, African-Americans make up 20 percent of pedestrian fatalities (Pucher and Renne).
  • Only 0.7 percent of federal transportation funds are spent on improving pedestrian facilities (Pucher and Renne).