Arrested Mobility: Barriers To Walking, Biking, And E-Scooter Use In Black Communities In The United States

Inequitable infrastructure investment has created mobility obstacles and racially discriminatory policing in transportation for Black Americans and people of color. Although more than half of the nation’s most dangerous streets for pedestrians are found in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods, investments in walking and bicycling infrastructure are mainly made in whiter, wealthier neighborhoods. In addition, many municipalities use violations to issue fines and fees as a revenue generation tool, causing disproportionate harm to Black and Latino residents. In Chicago, riding on sidewalks was the cause of 90 percent of bicycle violations, of which 93 percent were issued on streets without bikeways. This study reviewed laws concerning walking, cycling, and e-scooters from each state and its two largest cities to identify a subset of policies that are being enforced or have a strong potential to be enforced in a racially discriminatory manner. Although many laws serve a legitimate safety purpose, police enforcement disproportionately targets the mobility of Black people and people of color. 

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The study used five criteria to identify the criminalization of Black mobility:

  • Discriminatory or inequitable enforcement.
  • Ongoing advocacy efforts.
  • Highly subjective laws and policies.
  • Laws that are impossible to enforce equitably.
  • Inconclusive or absence of evidence that proves policies improve safety outcomes.


  • Reduce or eliminate fines and fees associated with pedestrian, bicycle, and e-scooter policies. 
  • Decriminalize violations that have minimal impact on safety and are enforced in a racially discriminatory manner.
Charles T. Brown, J’Lin Rose, and Samuel Kling
Equitable Cities