In November 2022, The Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) hosted a series of workshops convening a Mobilizing Justice Community of Practice of community organizations working to support transport equity and increase modal choice. The goals of the workshops were to:
1. Improve our understanding of experiences of Canadians facing transport poverty and the current on–the–ground priorities, gaps, and community initiatives developed in response.
2. Build two–way communication between community organizations and Mobilizing Justice researchers and partners.
3. Provide value to participating community organizations and leaders.
Below are key takeaways identified through discussions with community organizations working on the ground to address transport poverty:
1. Co-create agendas and topics for investigation – Gaps in data are something community organizations grapple with on a daily basis. Researchers looking to engage community organizations can respect the knowledge and expertise that community groups bring to the table by providing them opportunities to shape agendas and directions of research investigation. In so doing, this increases the likelihood that academic research will be useful and applicable to folks working on the ground.
2. Listen and adapt – While most of the organizations we spoke with reported positive experiences working with researchers, some did describe projects where academics were not willing to change direction when faced with lived experiences from communities that did not align with the researcher’s existing priorities. Community groups felt the most successful collaborations with academics were ones where researchers value lived experiences, and adapt approaches based on feedback they are receiving. When faced with new information, it’s better to change course and adjust mid–project than to continue down the path of least resistance
3. Suburban transit equity data – Organizations working in suburban communities noted that suburban transit and bus routes are often the first on the chopping block when budget cuts strike. Data that focuses on suburban transit equity and highlights the negative impacts of cuts to suburban transit would be useful for advocates and organizations fighting against cutback.
4. Non–infrastructure barriers to safe mobility – The Community of Practice explored the non– infrastructure barriers that prevent people from accessing safe and welcoming mobility. Just because infrastructure (e.g. bike lanes) exist doesn’t mean everyone will feel safe or comfortable using it. What are the additional factors that need to be present, and what are the factors that need to be removed for everyone to feel welcome using different mobility systems?
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