Georgia Tech

Getting there is Half the Problem

Nov 26, 2012 | Atlanta, GA

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When one segment of the population is disproportionately impacted by a lack of transportation options, the ability of that population to participate fully in society suffers. In the 2012 Georgia Tech thesis “Incorporating accessibility into environmental justice assessments: applications in the Atlanta metropolitan region,” Stefanie Brodie (MCRP/ MS-CE ‘12) argues access to public facilities such as libraries, schools, and parks present opportunities for social inclusion. When these opportunities are unduly denied to minority populations, she writes, it "becomes an environmental justice concern."

To evaluate the accessibility of public facilities in the Atlanta metropolitan region, Brodie identifies potentially affected population clusters and analyzes disproportionality and disparity of access to public facilities among the population groups. Her results show that while many of the groups historically impacted by environmental justice issues enjoy access to schools, libraries, and transit, comparatively minority populations have disproportionately limited access to city parks.

Brodie’s method for identifying potential environmental justice issues not only pinpoints areas in need of improvement in Atlanta but can also serve as a model for further study of access to private facilities such as grocery stores and shopping. By discovering deficiencies in accessibility, municipalities are better able to understand the regional impacts of transportation improvements as well as more easily comply with the spirit of environmental justice regulations.

Stefanie Brodie is a 2012 graduate of Georgia Tech's School of City & Regional Planning and School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and is currently pursuing a PhD in Civil Engineering at Georgia Tech. Professors Adjo Amekudzi, Catherine Ross, and Michael Meyer served on Brodie’s thesis advisory committee.

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