06-16-20 | Association News

Destiny Thomas Discusses Racism in Streetscape Design/Take Our Survey

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Questions of inequality have arisen in transportation planning according to an article shared by ALSA.

On June 9, ASLA released the latest version of their bi-weekly newsletter, The Landscape Report. The first article listed in the email was titled, "'Safe Streets' Are Not Safe for Black Lives" which was introduced by the association saying, "A transportation planner warns that building pedestrian-friendly streets without diverse public input may be putting black communities at risk." Earlier on June 1, Wendy Miller, ASLA president, made a statement on protests happening across the country. This statement was instantly met with negative feedback due to its ambiguity, prompting them to compose another, less neutral response. Likely feeling a desire to participate in the conversation, they then shared the aforementioned article -

The article asserts that there is a lack of communication in poorer communities as it pertains to city planning. The author, Destiny Thomas, poses the idea that there are racial issues impacting transportation planning. She says, "If we want to see streets filled with joy and true low-stress access to quality of life, we have to be willing to disrupt what has been the default mode in urban planning - one that centers whiteness and silences Black and Brown people and low-income communities." Her article concludes with a list of ideas that would "lean into the notion of a future where Black life is possible." This list included the divestment from police agencies, more significant funding in public transportation for low-income areas, the designing of low-stress street networks, and other similar concepts. Thomas was contacted, but she was not immediately available to provide further insight.

It should be understood that these conversations must start with the collection and examination of all facts, evidence, and available statistics with the intention of prioritizing law and order. Strong claims require strong evidence to support them. The stronger the claim, the more potent the evidence is required to be. To put forth the idea that there is racism in transportation planning is a very bold claim, but Thomas does not appear to sufficiently support that idea with facts.

We encourage our readers to examine Thomas's article thoroughly, formulate well-educated opinions, and share those opinions in the survey below:

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