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Making Seattle a More Equitable Community

We want all members of our community to have access to all the opportunities Seattle has to offer: schools, jobs, recreation, healthy food and more. 

To that end, the City is working to make a more equitable community and end race-based disparities in City government.

Gone are the days when groups of people were blatantly banned from certain schools, neighborhoods and even restrooms.  

But there are still structures in place that limit the opportunities of some groups of people.  It’s subtle.  It’s not necessarily on purpose.  It’s just the way our institutions have done things for a long time.

Take transportation in America.  For a long time, we built our communities as if everyone drives a car.  We prioritized our limited tax dollars to build roads exclusively for cars; required developers to build parking but not sidewalks; and often separated homes, stores, schools and jobs so far apart that we made the car the only practical way to get around. 

That might work if everyone could drive, but many of us can’t.  Lots of people can’t afford a car.  (AAA says it costs over $6,000 per year just to own the average car.  This doesn’t even count additional costs to drive it.)  Others can’t drive because of age, visual impairment or other physical reasons.  If you think about it, every single one of us is prohibited from driving a car for a big chunk of our lives: until we are over 16 years old.

SDOT has a more equitable vision: a transportation system which allows everyone to get where they need to go regardless of their income or physical limitations.  We envision a community with safe walking and biking routes; real transit options; and destinations conveniently located so walking, biking and transit are a natural way to get around.  Not only is it more fair, but providing transportation choices usually costs less and takes up less land – leaving more resources to invest in other priorities in the community. 

In addition, walking, biking and riding transit are more social than being isolated in your car.  These social forms of transportation give us opportunities to interact with other members of our community.  Exposure to other folks can be a powerful way to increase our understanding of each other and break down barriers.

Read more about transportation and social equity in this month’s Walk Bike Rider newsletter, which always has the latest on options, tools, inspiration and upcoming events to help you get around.