Although they make up over half the city’s population, women are drastically underserved by Los Angeles’ public transportation infrastructure. Recognizing this disparity, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) commissioned KDI to produce Changing Lanes: A Gender Equity Transportation Study. In addition to contributing much-needed data on women’s needs and experiences, this report is providing decision makers with a framework to make transportation in LA more inclusive and equitable.
What Los Angeles once posited as a 20th century vision of the future—a sprawling city connected by cars and highways—has become a 21st century liability, trapping the city in ever more intense effects of climate change, poor public health, and extreme inequity.
Campaigns to stem this cycle and expand public transportation ridership have, however, come up against an unexpected obstacle: gender inequity. Routes, fair structures, and design decisions have generally prioritized commuters (predominantly male) and penalized caregivers (predominantly female) who make shorter trips with multiple stops.
Gender-equitable reforms have long been hampered by the lack of data pertaining to the unique experiences and needs of women navigating Los Angeles’ transportation system. Changing Lanes addresses that shortcoming.
The report’s analysis focuses on three LA neighborhoods—Sun Valley in the Valley region, Watts in the Central City region, and Sawtelle in the Westside region—employing a variety of tactics, including analyzing existing studies, collecting survey data, conducting interviews on travel patterns, and convening local community stakeholder groups. Data collection methods were inspired by Community-Based Research (CBR), a participatory approach that pairs researchers with community members throughout all phases of the process.
BIPOC women face the greatest disparities across the city’s transportation system. In addition to gender inequities, they face racial barriers to safe and accessible transportation, maneuvering factors like historic under-investment, racist housing and zoning practices, and economic disenfranchisement.
Changing Lanes, therefore, centers the experiences of BIPOC women and urges the prioritization of their communities in future efforts to implement gender-equitable transportation policies. To this end, we offer an Equitable Citywide Implementation Roadmap, aimed at ensuring the report’s recommendations benefit the communities with the most need.
Published in July of 2021, Changing Lanes has had an immediate impact on the way that LADOT conducts business, equipping agency-wide decision makers with the data, tools, and strategies needed to advance gender equity.
Shortly after publishing the report, LADOT implemented one of Changing Lanes' core recommendations: a "point-to-point" pilot initiative, through which bus riders can travel directly to their destinations. The report will continue to be an invaluable resource as Los Angeles works to define a new culture of mobility, recasting its transportation system as a fully gender-inclusive network.
Los Angeles, California, USA
2019 - 2021
Research + Test
Los Angeles Department of Transportation
Toole Design Group
University of California Los Angeles Affiliated Researchers