2020 Annual WASLA Conference

Seattle Airport Marriott, March 27, 2020

Ethics, Equity, and Empathy: Exploring A Values-Driven Approach to Active Transportation and Urban Design


In the last 100 years, streets have been built to favor automobile travel above all other uses. The result is streets that are unsafe and uncomfortable for people walking, biking, and taking transit; cities clogged with traffic; air pollution that contributes to climate change; lost opportunities for connection and conviviality. The conventional three E's approach of engineering, education, and enforcement doesn't provide the guidance or moral compass we need to plan and build the streets of tomorrow. It's time for a new approach to urban design centered on the values we want to see reflected in our communities: interconnection, sustainability, and resilience. We need to view the design of streets and the public realm as the vital means of attaining health, happiness and fulfillment, not as an end in itself. What if we embraced three NEW E's to inspire and guide the transportation profession: Ethics, Equity, and Empathy? This session will explore what it means to change the status quo and approach transportation work with these values in mind through case studies and discussion.

Speaker Bios:

Kristen Lohse, Senior Urban Designer/Associate, Toole Design

Kristen is a senior urban designer with two decades of experience in active transportation planning and design. She is passionate about creating safe, efficient, convenient transportation systems that result in vibrant public spaces that contribute to a community's sense of place. Her expertise in shared use trails, bicycle facility design, Complete Streets guidance, wayfinding, and universal design comes from work on a wide variety of projects in the public realm. Kristen is co-author of FHWA's Accessible Shared Streets: Notable Practices Notable Practices and Considerations for Accommodating Pedestrians with Vision Disabilities.

Learning Objectives

We will address:

  • How race and social justice are critical aspects of urban design, and the ways ethics, equity, and empathy can address the failings of our transportation system.
  • How can our work be better? What are the barriers to approaching our work this way? What are the consequences if we do not?
  • How the field of landscape architecture is uniquely poised to address interconnection, sustainability, and resilience through a values-driven approach