How can we ensure that urban transport and development benefits women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities? How can we make cities, neighborhoods and transport systems safer for all? As more people migrate to urban centers and mega cities, can we ensure that slum dwellers benefit from economic growth and urban services? Over the next several months, ITDP and partners will attempt to answer these questions with The Access for All Series, a set of papers on inclusion, equity, and access in urban transport and Transit-Oriented Development (TOD).
In cities and regions throughout the developed and developing world, people are excluded from reaching their full potential depending on where they live and how they can access these services and opportunities. Since its invention a century ago, the car, and its dominating road network have contributed to a particular social division, those who have access to the services and opportunities of the city, and those who do not. The urban poor tend to live either further from urban centers or in areas that are poorly served by public transportation.
The first paper in the series, Access for All: Access and Gender, written in partnership with WEDO (Women’s Environment and Development Organization) explores how transportation systems have failed to account for diverse mobility patterns and needs among genders. It includes input from civil society, government officials, foundations, and transport experts, and offers a set of recommendations to improve access for women. The authors explore how transport systems historically have not taken into considerations the different mobility patterns and needs between genders and how this create dynamics that perpetuates gender gaps in society in both, developed and developing world cities.
A growing middle class with higher purchasing power is rapidly acquiring cars, and expecting to follow such models. This is adding millions of cars to already congested cities everywhere, with devastating effects, particularly in Indian and Chinese cities, where both population and economic growth are high. These cities should avoid the mistakes of earlier generations that bet everything on the automobile. After several decades of increasing inequality and sprawl, many are acknowledging these problems. A younger, more conscious generation is realizing the need to reclaim and redevelop urban centers, and that this means increased regulation of cars, and a greater focus on TOD. TOD can bring great environmental benefits and better quality of life to its inhabitants, but it is not a given that it will bring social inclusion and equity if left to market forces alone. On the contrary, TOD without a conscious focus on equity can become a force of exclusion and gentrification.
The goal is to ensure that urban centers with the highest concentrations of job opportunities, education, recreation, social and health services can benefit all, without decreasing access among vulnerable demographic groups. This paper series intends to explore together with constituencies that are often left behind or excluded from the benefits of TOD and recommend ways to improve current trends or situations. The series want to create a dialogue with these demographic communities and attempt to find common messages of inclusion, equity and access for all.