Gender inclusivity in streetscapes

In 2010 the Los Angeles Department of Transport published a report on gender inclusivity in streetscapes and transportation planning. The findings showed women and girls, especially those on low incomes, were at a disadvantage in this car-centric city. So what to do about it? The Department of Transport devised infrastructure design strategies that also included amenities in streetscapes.

While there is discussion about gender differences in transportation needs, little improvement has been made to solve the issues. And this is not just in Los Angeles. The first transportation report, Changing Lanes, provided the baseline information. The follow up is a report, using case studies, provides design strategies.

Case studies

Five case studies from different cities informed the recommendations.

  • Street Lighting: Seattle
  • Public Seating: New York
  • Bus Stop Amenities: Portland, Oregon
  • Pedestrian Infrastructure: Minneapolis
  • Bicycle Infrastructure: Austin

Photo credit Steve Morgan for TriMet, Portland Oregon.

Three different bus stops in Portland, Oregon. One is a pole with a perch seat attached, one at night and one in the daytime.

Note the small seat or shelf on the the bus stop pole. Perhaps a perch seat higher up the pole is better for people who cannot rise from a seat placed so low. The bottom right photo indicates a cycle lane between the bus shelter and the boarding platform. However, there is space for prams and wheelchairs under the shelter. Backrests on the seats would add extra comfort.

Planning recommendations

Six recommendations for improvements are based on the case studies.

  • Take a proactive approach to identifying deficiencies in infrastructure
  • Use geospatial data to prioritise
  • Set quantitative goals with success criteria
  • Establish goals between city agencies for partnerships and cooperation
  • Collect self-disclosed information on the gender of participants during public outreach
  • Include a gender equity component in project prioritisation methods
Front cover of the report  Designing Streetscapes for Gender Equity.

This is an easy to read report which supports other research on inclusive and accessible infrastructure. For example, wide level footpaths, kerb extensions and pedestrian safety islands.

The title of the report is Designing Streetscapes for Gender Inclusivity, published by UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies. There are some good examples applicable to many other jurisdictions.

From the abstract

Within the US, Los Angeles has been at the forefront of making efforts to factor gender inclusivity into transportation planning. In 2021, LADOT released Changing Lanes: A Gender Equity Transportation Study. This study found that LA’s current transportation system is not adequately serving low-income people of colour, women, girls, and gender diverse groups.

To address these inequities, LADOT is taking the next steps to implement gender-inclusive transportation infrastructure design strategies. This paper presents case studies that support walking, biking, rolling, and waiting.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with planners from five transportation agencies. Transportation guidelines and plans produced by these agencies were also reviewed. From the information gathered, five case studies were developed.

Each case study focused on a different strategy for improving gender inclusivity in streetscape design. That is, pedestrian street lighting, public seating, bus stop amenities, pedestrian infrastructure, and bike infrastructure. The implementation of these design strategies can ensure the needs of women, girls, and gender diverse groups who rely on active transportation and public transit are met.

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