Transportation: You get what you measure

New housing development showing narrow footpath and nature strip.
Street with footpath in a new development

It’s often said you get what you measure, so if you don’t measure, what to do you get? We talk about inclusion and inclusive cities but how will we know if they are inclusive if we don’t measure it? Transportation is an important part of a functioning city. So inclusive and accessible transport systems are a must. 

Bridget Burdett’s article in Linked In discusses the issue in plain language. She points out that transport professionals measure lots of things to do with road safety. That’s because they can measure the number of lives saved and accidents prevented. But “when it comes to accessibility though, we don’t measure any outcomes”. 

Cars on a two lane highway. You get what you measure.
Road accidents get measured

Burdett’ asked 175 transport planners and engineers what they thought would improve accessibility. As is often the case, the answers were about the responsibilities of others. Most often mentioned were political leadership and stronger legislation. Some thought that cost was preventing better accessibility, but overall, they couldn’t answer the question.

Time to measure exclusion – who is not using transportation systems. The title of the article is, How will we know we have inclusive cities if we don’t measure anything? It’s a short version of her journal article, Inclusive Access in Transport Policy and Views of New Zealand Transport Practitioners

Key points

    • Transport professionals (N = 175) in Aotearoa/NZ completed a web survey.
    • Analyses suggest that inclusive access is a complex issue for transport professionals.
    • Perspectives varied on why it is not more prominent in transport policy, or why outcomes are not better for older and disabled people using transport.
    • Inclusive access is vaguely defined and poorly measured in transport.
    • Transport policy needs measures that link policy and design choices to outcomes.