Transformative Talk: New Mobility & Mobility Justice

On October 3, the Transformative Talks series hosted a webinar focused on “new mobility and mobility justice.” Dr. Mimi Sheller (Drexel University) and Dr. Do Lee (Queens College, City University of New York) joined host Dr. Adonia Lugo. Our producer was Monique G. López.

Dr. Sheller is a professor of sociology and directs the Center for Mobilities Research and Policy at Drexel. Her research has been foundational to the creation of the interdisciplinary field of mobility studies. Dr. Lee received his environmental psychology Ph.D. from CUNY Graduate Center. His dissertation fieldwork took the form of participatory action research with immigrant delivery workers through Biking Public Project and the #DeliveringJustice coalition.

Tools for Untokening

Demand locally-owned mobility safety solutions rooted in transformative justice. Dr. Lee found that even though delivery workers were e-bike users, they didn’t fit into the vision for New York’s mobility future; who was riding mattered more than which vehicle they used. What is the vision for mobility safety that puts their security, living as immigrants, at the forefront? And, if regulation and enforcement are key to the success of tech-driven mobility systems, are they designed to keep us all safe? Decriminalizing mobility will take building community safety alternatives to prisons and policing. Furthermore, mobility safety investments should stay local. As Dr. Sheller’s research has found, there are global economic forces at play in this new mobility space. Our communities know best what keeps us safe; we should be investing in their solutions.

Advice for Accomplices

Question whose safety, convenience, and comfort are at the heart of mobility services. Dr. Sheller advised taking a longer historical view of urban settings to understand how mobility inequalities have always been related to gender, race, and class. Transportation systems have historically been designed around the individual commuter, with little room for diversity in who he might be. Look beyond transportation at different ways inequality happens as we move through the world; knowing this history and committing to invest in marginalized communities can move us toward equitable mobility futures.