Understanding the Construction of Accessibility and Mobility: Non-Car Transportation in St. Louis, Missouri

Authors: Hannah Shumway*, Macalester College
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: urban transportation infrastructure, transportation equity, accessibility, mobility
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Tyler, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper examines disadvantaged populations’ mobility and accessibility in the non-car transportation system in St. Louis. Though public transit, biking, and walking in St. Louis have been framed as alternatives that can help achieve urban transportation equity and social sustainability, this claim has not yet been thoroughly examined empirically. This paper therefore analyzes St Louis’s policy initiatives regarding non-car transportation over the last decade, assesses the impact of these policies on disadvantaged populations’ accessibility and mobility, and provides policy recommendations for creating a more equitable transportation system. By employing mixed methods, this paper interrogates how accessibility and mobility within non-car transportation systems are jointly constructed by physical proximity, personal experiences, and political processes. Findings have shown that lower-income and minority-majority neighborhoods in St. Louis are less accessible for biking and walking, with highly variable public transit accessibility. With the exception of some transit trips along major routes, this makes experiences of non-car mobility more negative and disjointed. Though a lack of bike system connectivity presents a barrier to mobility for people across the city, bike share has spurred many people to try biking as a mobility option who had previously lived in inaccessible areas. Walking mobility, however, remains an acute challenge within disadvantaged neighborhoods, as sidewalk infrastructure crumbles and safety issues persist. Finally, public transit accessibility and mobility are multi-layered and highly dependent on individuals’ patterns of life and desired destinations; for some people, the system works efficiently, while for others, trips can be inconvenient or unpleasant.

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