Paget-Seekins, Laurel. “Atlanta: Unsafe at any Speed: Transit Fatality Raises Issues of Race, Poverty and Transportation Justice.” Race, Poverty & the Environment, no. 1, 2012, p. 22. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.gsu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.41762530&site=eds-live. Laurel Paget-Seekins, a woman who has lived in Atlanta without a car for seven years and holds a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, recounts the 2011 conviction of Raquel Nelson after her four-year-old son was killed by a hit-and-run driver in this 2012 scholarly research article. Paget-Seekins reveals that Nelson, an African American single mother with three young children and no car, was attempting to cross a busy Cobb County highway with her children to reach the first of two busses, that took them to and from the grocery store, when the drunk driver struck them. Before being granted a retrial, Nelson was sentenced to serve three years in prison. Once he was caught, the driver only received six-months jail time, although he confessed to being under the influence and had been convicted twice in the past for hit-and-runs. Paget-Seekins includes Raquel Nelson’s tragic story in this article to paint a picture of problems that exist in Atlanta such as inadequate public transportation available to the poor in suburban areas, underfunding of transit, scarce transportation infrastructure in car dominated areas, and a continuation of the long history of race and class divisions. Laurel Paget-Seekins’ status as a highly educated, prosperous member of the community, that relies solely on public transportation to get around, gives her the ability to see the community from the perspectives of the affluent and the impoverished simultaneously. In my opinion, her capacity to empathize with groups of people that are incognizant of each other’s lives, along with her expertise in civil engineering, substantiates her criticisms and suggestions because it supports the assumption that the peer reviewed article should be predominately unbiased. This source explains that Atlanta’s suburbs originated during the civil rights movement as a response to the desegregation of Atlanta. Racism was the foundation of these suburbs when they were born. As they grew, racial discrimination was a significant factor in the shaping of the built environment and continues to impact the built environment today. Most significantly, the suburbs of Cobb County declined the offer to be connected to Atlanta by the MARTA rail line because they did not want to give poor African Americans access to their white only communities. The prevalence of racial discrimination has decreased considerably. Cobb County was only 56% white in 2010 when Raquel Nelson’s son was killed, however public transportation remains scarce and unsafe to access without a car. It is apparent that racial discrimination still affects the built environment of the Cobb County suburbs to some degree. Cobb County and other metro Atlanta suburbs plan to expand their public transportation services, but the plans seem to be aimed at benefiting middle-class white collar workers by giving the option to take public transit into Atlanta for work instead of driving. The low-income residents of Cobb County without cars, like Raquel Nelson, will likely not benefit from the transit expansions as a result of insufficient pedestrian infrastructure and unreliable bus services. I selected this source to be part of my research because it is very closely related to my research’s overarching theme of analyzing the impact of Atlanta’s large economic gap on transportation and the shaping of the built environment.
Khoeini, Sara and Randall Guensler. “Using Vehicle Value as a Proxy for Income: A Case Study on Atlanta’s I-85 HOT Lane.” Research in Transportation Economics, vol. 44, no. Road Pricing in the United States, 01 June 2014, pp. 33-42. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.retrec.2014.04.003. High-occupancy toll lanes (HOTs) are commonly referred to as “Lexus Lanes,” to suggest that a Lexus owner would pay the fee to use the lane. In their article, Sara Khoeini and Randall Guensler record the Georgia Institute of Technology experiment, investigating the socioeconomic impact of Atlanta’s HOTs, explaining their methodology for collecting data and sharing their findings. This experiment on the I-85 HOT lanes differs from previous experiments on the socioeconomic impacts of HOT because vehicle value is used as a substitute for income. Using vehicle value to obtain results instead of income is less expensive and takes less time, therefore the researchers used the evaluation of the socioeconomic impact of HOT lanes to test the accuracy of using vehicle value for the calculations. The final results revealed that high-income commuters use the HOT lanes twice as much as the lowest-income commuters, but the lowest-income commuters are still using the HOT lane commonly, undermining the validity of the term “Lexus Lane”. The statement, “one of the reasons behind converting the HOV lane into an HOT lane was that the existing carpool lane was becoming congested like its general purpose lane counterparts,” suggests that congestion during commuting peak periods is increasing. The congestion caused by suburban commuters is influencing the shape of the built environment of Atlanta by demanding congestion relief projects, such as the implementation of HOT lanes. I chose this source because it provides evidence that suggests that the creation of HOT lanes is one of very few congestions relief options currently executable. The absence of many viable traffic relief solutions shines light on the possibility that public transportation will have an increased impact on the built environment by expanding to lighten commuting traffic. The article is written in such exceptional detail that the experiment could very likely be replicated using only the article. The meticulous, objective writing, present throughout most of the article, along with article’s status as peer reviewed gives me no reason to question the credibility of Khoeini and Guensler.
Ross, Catherine L., et al. “Health Impact Assessment of the Atlanta Beltline.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 42, no. 3, Mar. 2012, pp. 62-213. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2011.10.019. Catherine L. Ross’ in depth analysis of the Atlanta BeltLine is separated by theme into eleven sections, but I limited my research down to the fifth section titled “Access and Social Equity.” Ross begins by explaining the BeltLine as a redevelopment of underused land, through the creation of paved trails, increasing pedestrian accessibility and connecting people to destinations such as health clinics and public schools. She then evaluates data related to the parks, trails, transit, and redevelopment placing the results, in the form of calculated indicators of the project’s results in different areas, into tables. The products of her evaluations, displayed in the tables, revealed that improvements in accessibility and other benefits of the project are distributed unequally geographically and demographically. In all cases, the percentages of the populations from the Southeast, Southwest, and Westside planning areas that will have access to the benefits of the BeltLine are significantly less than the percentages of populations of the Northside and Northeast planning areas. It is extremely improbable that the Northside and Northeast planning areas, comprised almost entirely of people with the highest median income, will accidentally feature superior accessibility for a much higher percentage of residents than the other planning areas with majority low-income residents. A comparison of maps included in this study clearly illustrates unequal access to the readers, one map showing Beltline access to grocery stores and the other showing average median household income. In Laurel Paget-Seekins’ article cited above, it is shown that insufficient pedestrian infrastructure providing access to grocery stores is a huge problem for low-income families without cars. The issues discussed in this article are related to the findings of the study, “The Fading American Dream: Trends in Absolute Income Mobility Since 1940” because it demonstrates the impact of income inequality on the changes to the build environment as high-income areas are provided with higher quality infrastructure than low-income areas. In turn, the lack of quality infrastructure in low-income areas, where pedestrian infrastructure makes a greater impact, enforces the income inequality gap in Atlanta. Ross’ work is highly credible, seeing as she is an internationally recognized expert on the topics discussed in this study and has received high honors, including being selected to advise the Obama Administration in the subject of urban affairs.
Chetty, Raj and Nathaniel Hendren. “The Fading American Dream: Trends in Absolute Income Mobility Since 1940,” NBER Working Paper Series, Working Paper 23002, Apr. 2015, http://www.equality-of-opportunity.org/assets/documents/nbhds_exec_summary.pdf. Accessed 21 Mar. 2017. The version of this study referenced for my investigation is the executive summary of the full-length paper, written by the same authors, condensing the eighty-seven-page account into six pages. The summary familiarizes readers with the researchers’ methodologies and findings. In this study, Chetty and Hendren analyze the tax records of over five million children who, at some point, relocated to a different county to examine the impact that the neighborhood a child grows up in has on their income as an adult. The data, available for the public to download, is used to verify the claim that hometowns significantly affect children’s future chances for upward economic mobility and calculate the estimated effect of each county in America on a child’s probable economic mobility. Analysis of the findings of the study reveals that many of qualities found to decrease rates of upward economical mobility are present in Atlanta. Atlanta has a lot of segregation by class and race, the highest level of income inequality in the county, high rates of violent crime, and more African American residents than residents of any other race. Therefore, the information in this article helps explain what caused Atlanta’s income inequality ratio to rank the highest in the country. In connection to the article “Atlanta: Unsafe at any Speed: Transit Fatality Raises Issues of Race, Poverty and Transportation Justice,” public transportation’s shortcomings in Atlanta seem to have been caused by the presence of factors Chetty and Hendren show to hurt economic mobility. These shortcomings also appear to be perpetuating income inequality, by causing increases in factors such as segregation by race and class. The highly awarded authors both hold Ph.D.’s in economics from prestigious universities, Chetty from Harvard University and Hendren from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to this, the study receives credibility because it has been widely cited. The study seems to be primarily objective, due to its heavy involvement with numerical records. Their suggestions for improving rates of economic mobility are not necessarily without flaw, but the research their study is comprised of could help policymakers enact plans to improve the rates. This source is valuable to my research because it shows how aspects of the built environment can contribute to economic success.
Berube, Alan, “All Cities Are Not Created Unequal.” Brookings. Brookings Institution, 20 Feb. 2014. Web. Accessed 21 Mar. 2017. Alan Berube, senior fellow and deputy director at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, discusses the issue of income inequality throughout large United States cities in this article. The raw data complied from the U.S. Census Bureau, ranking the cities by an inequality ratio, is given in the attached appendix and is used by Berube as a basis for comparing inequality across the cities. Although this data is from 2012, it is the newest compilation of U.S. Census Bureau data ranking cities by inequality that I could find. It is not proof that Atlanta currently holds the title of number one in terms of income inequality, but it does show that Atlanta has a very large gap between the highest incomes and the lowest. The Brookings Institute is a non-profit organization formed over one-hundred years ago with a reputation for having a central to slightly left-leaning political stance. However, an academic study ranked Brookings at a fifty-three on a scale from one to one-hundred, with one begin most conservative and one-hundred most liberal, giving the impression that they try to prevent political bias. The article seems to take a somewhat liberal stance on the issue of income inequality, referencing the prominence of income inequality in Barrack Obama’s list of campaign issues. Therefore, I will reference the U.S. Census Bureau data complied by Berube, as opposed to referencing his analysis of the data. Statistical data proving Atlanta has a high income inequality ratio is useful as it relates to the academic study, “The Fading American Dream: Trends in Absolute Income Mobility Since 1940.” The data presented in this article allows me to accurately establish economic inequality a problem for the city of Atlanta and analyze the causes using evidence found in The Fading American Dream.