Nov 6, 2020

This presentation is sponsored by ITS-Davis’ partnership with the Pacific Southwest Region University Transportation Center.


There is No “Green Book” for Walking: Transit Risks Patterned by Race and Place


1:40pm - 3:00pm


Remote instruction


The Green Book ( was originated and published by Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966 in an effort “to give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties”, such as being refused hotel or restaurant accommodations, expulsion from sundown towns, and threats of physical violence and death through beatings and lynchings. This well-known guide for African American travelers of the time provided information on lodging, restaurants, and fuel stations that would serve them during this highly segregated Jim Crow Laws era of U.S. history. After the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, legislation to outlaw racial discrimination, Green discontinued publication of the guidebook as he believed there would be no further need for it. In his 1949 edition, Green wrote:

        There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide may not have to be published.

        That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States.

Unfortunately, 70 years have passed and that day has not arrived.

“Driving While Black,” a double entendre borrowed from the U.S, criminal offense of “driving while intoxicated,” represents the racial profiling endured by many African American motorists by law enforcement. The expression rose to prominence in the 1990s, however, it has morphed to include the difficulties experienced with active transport, including “Walking While Black” or “Biking While Black.” While the original meaning of these expressions referred to discriminatory targeting, research has now shown that African American pedestrians and cyclists are also disproportionately affected by injurious and fatal traffic violence. In addition to these transit risks impacting safety, issues involving transportation infrastructure and access (e.g., transit deserts) have also been found to negatively affect the health and well-being of African American and low-income communities. As such, this presentation will discuss matters related to the transit-health link experienced in the U.S., including influences related to structural racism, residential segregation and transportation inequities.

Biographical Sketch

Jennifer D. Roberts is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology, School of Public Health at the University of Maryland College Park (UMD). Dr. Roberts is also the Founder and Director of the Public Health Outcomes and Effects of the Built Environment (PHOEBE) Laboratory as well as the Co-Founder and Co-Director of NatureRx@UMD, an initiative that emphasizes the natural environmental benefits interspersed throughout and around the UMD campus. Her scholarship focuses on the impact of built, social, and natural environments, including the institutional and structural inequities of these environments, on the public health outcomes of marginalized communities. More specifically, much of her research has explored the dynamic relationship between environmental, social, and cultural determinants of physical activity (e.g., active transport) and using empirical evidence of this relationship to infer complex health outcome patterns and disparities among adults and children.

Dr. Roberts’ was awarded a JPB Environmental Health Fellowship by Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This three-year fellowship will support her forthcoming research study, Gauging Effects of Neighborhood Trends and Sickness (GENTS) Study: Examining the Perceptions of Transit-Induced Gentrification in Prince George’s County. GENTS will examine the risk of transit-induced gentrification and associated health effects (e.g., anxiety) as related to the Purple Line, a new 16.1-mile light rail line intended for operation in 2022. While the introduction of light rail in communities often encourages physical activity by way of active transport, gentrification is sometime an unintended consequence and socioeconomic by-product of these types of transit-oriented developments.

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