Transportation Matters for Main Streets


Streets for Everyone

"Transportation determines how we get to the places where we live, work, and play. It is imperative we advance an equity agenda that is people-centered, protects our health, encourages sustainable communities, and gives everyone a voice in stimulating a vibrant economy."
– Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

For decades, Americans have been infatuated with the perception of freedom that the car can offer. After World War II, this infatuation, paired with concerns about city congestion and desires for “urban renewal,” inspired the creation of laws and policies that left lasting, sometimes devastating, marks on the physical and social landscapes of the nation. In many cases, highway construction drove development away from downtowns; “white flight” to the suburban periphery encouraged employers to move jobs from city centers; public transit lost significant investment; and many streets became lasting barriers that divided communities instead of connecting them.

Since streets both reflect and shape the communities they serve, they have become incredibly meaningful places for people working to create more equitable cities and communities. All members of the community should be visibly engaging and participating in the activities on Main Street, regardless of age, gender identity, sexual orientation, income, race, ability, national origin, family composition, or mode of transportation. Main Street leaders have an important role to play in ensuring their communities are inclusive, in fostering a culture of equal opportunity, and in protecting their most vulnerable community members.

Car-oriented streets unevenly impact specific groups and demographic categories:
  • People who do not have access to cars
  • Children and older adults
  • Women
  • The LGBTQ community
  • Lower-income people
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • People of color
  • People with disabilities
  • People who do not speak English
  • Families with children
  • Pedestrians and cyclists

People-oriented streets provide benefits such as:

  • Autonomy
  • Social mobility
  • Sense of Belonging
  • Sense of ownership and stewardship
  • Equal access to all the benefits of Main Street


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