At TransForm, we often talk about how access to safe, reliable, and affordable transportation helps communities thrive. But one thing we don’t talk about enough, is how discrimination impacts safety and access. For LGBTQI+ people throughout California who face hate-based violence and discrimination, access to safe, reliable, and affordable modes of travel means something different. This Pride month, we want to acknowledge the recent increase in threats against the LGBTQI+ communities, and lift up some of the efforts aimed at reducing harassment on transit to make it safe for LGBTQI+ people to navigate the built environment.
As we work to ensure that public transit in the Bay Area thrives and continues to restore ridership to pre-pandemic levels, there’s broad agreement that we need to create a safer experience for all bus and train riders. This work absolutely includes LGBTQI+ people, who across all races and ethnicities are lower-income, less likely to own a car, and more likely to rely on transit. While we’ve known for years that women and people of color are at a much higher risk for harassment and violence, we’re encouraged to finally see some recent progress that addresses the safety concerns of LGBTQI+ transit riders, including:
The Public Transit For All: Improving Safety & Increasing Ridership Bill (SB 434) will require the largest transit operators in California to gather and publish ridership data on street harassment on vehicles and at transit stops. TransForm and more than 100 advocacy organizations support this legislation, which is headed to the Assembly Transportation Committee after a successful Senate vote. Annie Lee of Chinese for Affirmative Action, one of the groups spearheading the bill says, “[Transit agencies are] trying to bring riders back, and the way to bring riders back is to make the experience safer and better for all of us.”
BART’s Not One More Girl public safety campaign addresses gender-based sexual harassment of girls and gender-expansive youth by engaging local youth to talk about their experiences on BART, providing bystander intervention information, and tracking instances of gender-based sexual harassment in their ridership data.
TransForm has a long history of educating marginalized communities about alternatives to driving and connecting them to incentives that help expand the ways in which people access jobs and opportunities. Our Know How To Go pedestrian and public transit training program engages current and potential riders, bridging gaps in information and resources in low-income, senior, immigrant, and non-English-speaking communities. We have successfully enrolled riders in discount fare programs like Clipper Start and the Alameda County Student Pass, while our Safe Routes to Schools program encourages families and educators to take up active and shared transportation.
Local initiatives like the Oakland Bicycle Plan will also benefit LGBTQI+ Californians even though they aren’t specifically named in the supporting demographic data. Strategies that reduce over-policing of Black bicyclists and address pedestrian and bicyclist safety improve the built environment, making it easier and more comfortable for everyone to get around. Access to mobility is access to opportunity—to the ability to move freely and connect with community wherever you find it.
Everyone deserves a safe and dignified transportation experience. As LGBTQI+ Pride Month comes to a close, we’re inspired by the efforts of organizations throughout the state working to make that experience a reality.