Community Engagement

RELATED TOPICS: Plan Development, Complete Streets, Vision Zero, Equity, Health, Bike Share

Community engagement is integral to the success of transportation planning and should be considered at every stage of the planning process, from collecting baseline data to conducting post-implementation evaluation. Community stakeholders in the planning review process can help identify safety concerns and secure support for proposed projects. Traditional public participation often takes the form of information sharing, with meetings and presentations. More inclusive community engagement seeks the intended audience where it is already convened (e.g., community events, schools, the internet) and offers various opportunities to engage, ideally providing services like translation and childcare when relevant.

Balancing a practitioner's technical expertise and the unique knowledge of community members can be a challenge. For the practitioner, it is important to ask for information and insights that residents can reasonably provide and incorporate into next steps. Whenever possible, practitioners should focus on building relationships and create a feedback loop to demonstrate how engagement has informed the plan and process.

Finding the time and venue for expressing ideas and concerns may be a challenge for community members. It can be intimidating to call an elected official, speak at a public meeting, or understand a complicated project schedule or funding program. A Resident's Guide for Creating Safer Communities for Walk and Biking includes facts, ideas, resources, and case studies to help residents learn about traffic safety problems and act to address their concerns. It may also be helpful to build capacity within the community with other residents, colleagues, or community organizations before contacting local agencies.

Resources

Incorporating Qualitative Data in the Planning Process highlights tools, techniques, and resources that practitioners could use to gather input at different states of the planning or project delivery process.

Strategies for Engaging Community: Developing Better Relationships Through Bike Share provides guidance for building meaningful and effective relationships with constituents and historically underserved communities.

Participating in the Planning Process includes toolkits, fact sheets, and reports on creating partnerships around comprehensive plans, zoning, redevelopment, and more.

Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program Public Engagement Focus Area provides resources about public engagement and equity in transportation planning.

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Examples

Massachusetts Department of Transportation Public Participation Plan guides agency public participation efforts to include those populations that have been underserved by the transportation system and/or have lacked access to the decision-making process.

Publicly-Supported Road Diet Reduces Speeds in Alexandria shares community engagement efforts for countermeasure implementation.

Citizen Planning Institute serves as the education and outreach extension of the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Planning Commission and provides a seven-week course of ideas and tools for improving neighborhoods.

Engaging Underserved Communities to Focus on Building More Complete Streets examines an outreach effort for a regional agency in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The City of Chicago, Illinois Vision Zero West Side focuses on deployment of traffic safety improvements in communities of concern and outreach processes with community organizers to develop community-supported solutions.

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