In response to a study released last year by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation on mobility challenges faced by women, L.A. City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez introduced a motion Wednesday aimed at addressing gender inequities in the city’s transportation system.
LADOT’s study “Changing Lanes: A Gender Equity Transportation Study,” which was released on July 30, found that women are less likely to have a driver’s license and access to a vehicle than men. At the same time, they’re more likely to take trips that require multiple stops because they are often responsible for a larger share of household and childcare-related duties. They’re also more likely to be carrying strollers and shopping bags, as well as be accompanied by children.
According to the study, even transit infrastructure is designed using men’s bodies instead of women’s, making grab bars, handles, ramps, curbs and seats less effective for women.
Rodriguez’s office said Wednesday that the study suggests that transportation systems have largely failed to incorporate women’s unique interests and experiences.
“The motion introduced builds on my work since taking office to provide safe, accessible and affordable transit options for all riders in my district, especially women,” Rodriguez said.
“Women, particularly Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) women, must navigate a system that is unresponsive to their needs. It is crucial for public safety and public transit equity that we invest in programs that address their needs and bring equitable transit to the communities who need it most.”
Rodriguez’s motion — which was seconded by Council President Nury Martinez, Councilwoman Nithya Raman and Councilman Joe Buscaino — requests a report from the Department of Transportation on addressing four goals:
— providing new options to support how women travel;
— supporting trip chaining and multi-modal travel;
— improve safety; and
— prioritize the experiences, perspectives and needs of low-income Indigenous and people of color, particularly women, while developing solutions.
“Public transit is unsafe for women and it’s not a new issue — it’s something I have been working on for years,” Martinez said. “Last year I worked with LADOT to launch a first-of-its-kind pilot program in my district that focused on making our transit systems safer and more accessible for women. I’m glad that our city is continuing to build on this work and making the safety of LA’s women a priority.”
The study focused on women in Sun Valley, Watts and Sawtelle, which were chosen to represent different demographics in Los Angeles. It found that before the pandemic, women took more transit trips than men in Sun Valley, but men took more trips than women in Watts and Sawtelle.
The study and the motion introduced Wednesday comes as Los Angeles’ transportation agencies are all led by women: LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds, Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins and Metro Board of Directors Chair and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis.
“When women in Los Angeles do not have access to transportation that meets their needs, they suffer; the ones who depend on them suffer; and we suffer as a city,” Reynolds said Wednesday. “Our gender equity report is a foundation for intentional action to provide safe, affordable and dignified travel options to support women, which supports everyone.”