Diversity: Is sustainable transport inclusive of our city’s diverse communities?

Seminar Report

Date – Thursday 30th April 2020 

Location – Online Webinar, Zoom

This event was the tenth event in our series and our first webinar. Speakers discussed cultural diversity in our sustainable transport systems in Greater Manchester. 

Hayley Al-Siaidi is a Transport Planner at Arup and spoke about Arup/Sustrans research around barriers and solutions to increase cycling among underrepresented groups. Key concerns included infrastructure, which was often considered to favour commuter journeys, putting certain demographics (such as retired people, children, or women; who typically have more trip chains) at a disadvantage. Governance systems must also be improved, as representation often relies on self-nominating, and being heard is difficult (and usually requires IT access). Looking to the future, reductions in speed limits and traffic volume may provide enablers, as well as dedicated infrastructure. It was also noted that better representation is needed within the transport sector itself, to better reflect the diversity of the populations we are serving. You can read more about this work here. Watch Hayley’s presentation below. 

Mohammed Dhalech is a Churchill Fellow and discussed his work engaging BAME communities with the outdoors. Many BAME communities often feel the outdoors is associated with one specific demographic: and that they do not see themselves as part of that environment. While in the US Mohammed discussed these issues with Ranger Shelton Johnson, one of the first black rangers in the US in Yosemite National Park, which underlined the importance of history when connecting the outdoors with communities of colour. He identified a systemic problem with racism and unconscious bias when it comes to the outdoors, and suggests we need a serious conversation to make people from BAME communities feel welcome in the outdoors. Watch Mohammed’s presentation for more information.

Patrick Steele talked about his work with Manchester Dragon Cycling Club, which is a group that aims to encourage cycling within the Chinese community. Cycling is often perceived as an activity dominated by MAMILs (middle-aged men in lycra), and barriers often include cultural sensitivity and feelings of fragility on the bike. Patrick was keen to set up this group to challenge these barriers to cultivate social inclusion across the community. Social media has also been a useful tool in engaging otherwise hard-to-reach groups. Watch Patrick’s presentation for more information. 

Q&A Session

It was deemed that while different groups often require different solutions, many barriers are often the same and may require less work than initially realised – but these challenges need to reviewed on a case-by-case basis. We are seeing changes in behaviour across intersectionality, especially with younger generations more inclined to engage with active travel modes and social media. If you want to find out more, listen to our Q&A session for more information.