For-profit

Equitable Cities

Website:

equitablecities.com/%20

Location:

Somerset, New Jersey

Type:

For-Profit Urban Planning Consultancy

President:

Charles T. Brown

Founded:

2014

Equitable Cities is a consulting firm that advocates for increased spending on pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure in cities to combat racial discrimination. It uses an critical race theory-aligned framework to support its research and advocacy. [1]

Background

Founded in 2014, Equitable Cities is a left-of-center public policy consulting firm. It works with government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels to advocate for transportation policy that addresses race issues. [2]

Equitable Cities works with and receives funding from federal, state, and local governments as well as from nonprofit organizations to advocate for transportation policy. It argues that a lack of transportation infrastructure discriminates against Black Americans and that transportation policy should address racial issues. [3] It asserts that Black Americans face transportation “disinvestment” — including existing cycling laws and pedestrian law — that results in higher death and arrest rates for Black people. [4]

Activities

In support of Smart Growth America‘s National Complete Streets Coalition project, Equitable Cities hosted a workshop series on working with the Department of Transportation to effectively advocate for increased funding for pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure. The workshop was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Community Resilience in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). [5] The Coalition was created by Smart Growth America in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, associating the pandemic with transportation issues. [6]

Using funding from the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC, Equitable Cities worked with officials from Virginia’s more highly populated areas to assess the “walkability” of their communities. Equitable Cities was paid to produce films, provide development courses and workshops, and evaluate the communities to advocate for racially centered transportation policy in Virginia. [7]

As part of research from Morgan State University and the University of Delaware, Equitable Cities was paid to host focus groups with residents from Baltimore, Maryland for the Baltimore Bike Share Equity project. The group studied why residents were not utilizing Baltimore’s bikeshare program and recommended strategies and incentives that would increase use of the program. [8]

Leadership

Charles T. Brown is the founder and CEO of Equitable Cities. Since 2013, Brown has been an adjunct professor at Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. From 2016 to 2021, he was a senior researcher at the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers. [9]

In an article for The Guardian in April 2021, Brown argued that minorities, particularly Black Americans, are given tickets and citations at higher rates due to a lack of infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. He stated that before ticketing pedestrians and cyclists, including for violations of bicycle helmet laws, local governments should be required to invest in transportation infrastructure first. Brown also argued that such laws were designed to allow police to racially profile, arrest, and harm Black Americans. [10]

References

  1. “About.” Equitable Cities. July 20, 2021. https://equitablecities.com/about/#section-services. ^
  2. “Charles Brown.” LinkedIn. Accessed January 17, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlesbrownmpa/. ^
  3. Solomon, Adina. “How US Helmet Laws Are Used against Cyclists of Colour and Homeless People.” The Guardian. April 20, 2021. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/apr/20/us-helmet-laws-police-citations-cyclists-of-colour-homeless. ^
  4. “About.” Equitable Cities. July 20, 2021. https://equitablecities.com/about/#section-services. ^
  5. “The Complete Streets Consortium Series.” Equitable Cities. September 30, 2020. https://equitablecities.com/portfolio-item/the-complete-streets-consortium-series/. ^
  6. “Complete Streets + Covid-19.” Smart Growth America. January 4, 2021. https://smartgrowthamerica.org/program/national-complete-streets-coalition/covid-19-how-is-your-community-responding/. ^
  7. “Virginia Walkability Action Institute.” Equitable Cities. September 30, 2020. https://equitablecities.com/portfolio-item/virginia-walkability-action-institute/. ^
  8. “Baltimore Bike Share Equity Focus Groups.” Equitable Cities. September 30, 2020. https://equitablecities.com/portfolio-item/baltimore-bike-share-equity-focus-groups/. ^
  9. “Charles Brown.” LinkedIn. Accessed January 17, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlesbrownmpa/. ^
  10. Solomon, Adina. “How US Helmet Laws Are Used against Cyclists of Colour and Homeless People.” The Guardian. April 20, 2021. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/apr/20/us-helmet-laws-police-citations-cyclists-of-colour-homeless. ^
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