As technologies change, agencies must routinely evaluate how communities access transportation within their region and remain aware of barriers that exist. How and where can mobility gaps be filled? The most successful transportation programs are supported by and convenient for those who live there. With that in mind, we know there is a clear difference between a standalone suitability assessment and one that considers equity. Equity mapping helps agencies strategically focus time, energy, and budget on the areas of the region with the greatest needs. This reinforces a commitment to serving all residents and furthers the goals of promoting equity regionally.
In a recent partnership with Portland Metro as part of their Metro Emerging Technology Implementation Plan, we had the following three objectives:
Identify candidate neighborhoods and communities within the Metro region with a relatively high need of equitable access to transportation
Determine where specific technology-enabled mobility solutions could be leveraged to fill mobility gaps at a regional and local level
Determine how these equity and suitability assessments could work together to more practically apply new technologies in a way that serves all
We Wanted To Know
Where are the clusters of Historically Marginalized Communities (HMCs) and other vulnerable populations in the Metro region?
Where are there gaps in mobility services?
Where are hotspots with a high concentration of HMCs and vulnerable populations with the highest need for mobility options and services other than a personal automobile?
To begin answering these questions we started by mapping Metro’s Equity Focus Areas (EFAs), census tracts identifying low-income, non-white, and limited English proficiency populations. For the Portland Metro Region, these EFAs are defined by Metro as block groups that are above the Metro regional rate and twice the population density of the regional average. The map below identifies areas that met one, two, and all three EFAs, providing a necessary perspective on vulnerable populations when recommending effective candidate areas for emerging technology deployment opportunities. Other populations such as those over age 65, households with no vehicles, etc. were also identified as part of this analysis in order for solutions to be tailored to their specific needs as well.
We Wanted To Know
What areas are likely to be considered suitable for emerging technology deployment based on the land use, key destinations, and current network connectivity?
What areas are most likely to benefit from deployment of technology enabled mobility services?
We began by identifying areas within the region which represented the greatest potential to support the following five mobility options:
Electric Bikeshare & Scooters
Microtransit & Vanpool
After compiling, mapping, and analyzing multiple sources of spatial data including land-use data, availability of transportation options, density, physical barriers, and opportunities/constraints with existing infrastructure; we developed a list of five to eight factors that were most significant in influencing the need to fill each of the five mobility gaps. Individual weighting was assigned to each factor. We then identified several neighborhoods and communities within the Metro region that score relatively high on one or more of the five mobility gaps and could be suitable for an emerging technology deployment.
Lastly, we overlaid the EFA equity map data on top of the newly identified neighborhoods suitable for emerging technology deployment. When equity mapping is considered with a suitability assessment, areas of both high suitability and high equity needs are discovered.
More about suitability Methodology
The region’s market suitability was assessed for each block group in three ways:
- Origin/destination land uses such as:
- Key destinations including but not limited to hospitals, schools, libraries, parks, community centers, and park-and-rides.
- Land Use/Zoning
- Areas with slope >4%
- Average trip lengths as determined by travel model data
- Population and employment density
- Network characteristics that would support the new service such as:
- Percentage of streets with sidewalks on one or both sides
- Connectivity for each block group as a percentage of a perfect grid
- Bike Facilities
- Miles of the planned bicycle network completed
- Bike connectivity
- The proximity of each block group to a frequent transit stop
- Bike share
- Percentage of the block group in the current Biketown service area
Blended Analysis: Prioritizing Next Steps
In this study, Metro analyzed widespread suitability and then focused in on specific areas based on equity. Suitability in combination with equity needs result in focused energy and focused resources for your client. With this in mind, we developed a chart to help prioritize needs after a blended assessment is conducted.
High Suitability + High Equity
Priority locations for which new transportation choices could be economically viable and serve people needing them most
Low Suitability + High Equity
Not likely to be market-driven requiring subsidies or other mechanisms to provide mobility solutions
Low Equity + High Suitability
Likely attractive to providers and the focus will be on managing these providers and services
Low Equity + Low Suitability
Lower priority for emerging technology programs, but could be monitored for future changes
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