Access to Opportunities: Redefining Planning Methods and Measures for Disadvantaged Populations

Arlie Adkins, University of Arizona



This project will be made up of two separate studies that together will investigate areas where transportation planning and engineering can better serve disadvantaged and underserved communities. An interdisciplinary team of planning and public health researchers from UA will investigate how standard measures and conceptions of walkability hold up across socio-economic contexts. Pilot data from a CDC-funded project suggest that many standard measures of walkability may miss important elements of the built and social environment that can faciliate or deter walking in disadvantaged communtiies. The project team will collect data using on-street interview methodology developed in Tucson and a mail survey in a sample of cities nationwide. The aim of this study is to produce actionable recommendations about how concepts like walkability should be defined, measured, and applied in disadvantaged neighborhoods. In parallel to this work, UTA engineering, public policy, and social work faculty will work with nonprofits and other service providers to characterize transportation gaps that result from system deficiencies at a regional scale. We will measure these gaps’ impact on well-being in terms of health (physical and psycho-social), access to opportunities (work, personal, business, etc.), and community connectedness. This program will develop a roadmap for future research that can transform transportation planning practice to better account for disadvantaged communities.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
In Progress
End Date:
October 31,2022
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Initial Projects
UTC Funding:

Other Products

  • Adkins, A., Barillas-Longoria, G., Martinez, D. N., & Ingram, M. (2019). Differences in social and physical dimensions of perceived walkability in Mexican American and non-hispanic white walking environments in Tucson, Arizona. Journal of Transport & Health, 14. (PUBLICATION)
  • Techniques for assessing the transportation gaps of environmental justice populations (PRESENTATION)
  • Aiming for walkable, inclusive communities (PRESENTATION)
  • QPED: Qualitative Pedestrian Environments Data (WEBSITE)
  • Understanding walkability and barriers to walking and physical activity in different socioeconomic and sociocultural contexts (PRESENTATION)