Moving to access

Each day around the world, millions of urban residents walk, bike, drive, bus, and metro to their destinations. This sets off an uncoordinated ballet of movement. Brookings’s Moving to Access Initiative looks at innovative policies, tools, and techniques that can help ensure that all people—regardless of income or demography—get where they need to go.

The goal of urban transportation policy is to reduce congestion and keep people and vehicles moving. But not everyone is getting where they want to go in a reasonable amount of time, at a reasonable cost. And not all destinations are equally accessible.

Accessibility means connecting people with their destinations. Improving access to jobs, shops, schools, or parks means understanding people’s needs—regardless of their address, age, or income.

Access demands vary widely. A businessperson needs to be at the office for a morning call, while a factory worker has to be at the plant for a midnight shift. A fruit vendor has to reach the local market by dawn, while a working parent has to get the kids to school before work.

Access means more than just mobility. Effective land use policy can create a “city of short distances,” where people have easy access to a range of destinations.

Cities, regions, states, and national governments need to consider accessibility in their decision-making. That can mean investing in construction projects, structuring capital finance, setting prices, or funding public services.

Local governments need to work better with one another, and with state and national authorities. The private and public sectors need to collaborate and coordinate their efforts.

The Moving to Access Initiative aims to elevate access through research and practical solutions. It’s also a means of assessing what’s currently working—and what isn’t.