Improving the quality and reliability of public transit and expanding access to nonmotorized modes of transportation, such as walking and cycling, are key to making progress on the Biden administration’s goals of advancing racial equity and tackling the climate crisis, both of which are outlined in executive orders issued by President Biden in his first month in office.
Federal agencies have since incorporated these priorities into many grant programs, including those funded by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act, which provides funding for a range of projects across transportation, energy, water, broadband, and more. Many competitive federal grant programs are now incorporating selection criteria requiring applicants to address the equity implications of their proposed projects and to demonstrate how proposed projects will benefit “disadvantaged” communities.
Yet many applicants struggle to quantify racial equity and environmental justice and face obstacles in accessing and analyzing the data necessary to do so. In response to this need, Urban researchers have assembled nearly 100 data sources and tools that can help applicants for federal funding make equity-driven decisions about which projects to pursue and help them develop successful, evidence-informed grant applications. Our transportation data guide categorizes these data sources and tools into six relevant categories and demonstrates how these data can be used to address key funding priorities across several competitive IIJA transportation grant programs. The data sources and tools are displayed in the embedded table below. For each entry, we collected key attributes including available indicators, geographic coverage, time span, periodicity, and accessibility. Definitions of these attributes can be viewed by hovering over the column headers in the table.
This guide is intended for local governments or organizations interested in advancing racial equity through the pursuit of federally funded public transit, bicycle, and pedestrian projects. It aims to give local leaders the tools to assess the equity motivations and impacts, both positive and negative, of potential projects. We hope it will empower localities to make evidence-informed decisions that simultaneously advance racial equity and climate action.