ChalkTalk : a participatory design framework for designing resilient sustainable transportation infrastructures
American cities looking to reduce car congestion, improve air quality, and increase safety on the road are focused on shifting car commutes to sustainable “human-scaled” transportation modes like biking, and walking. As studies show though, 51% of car commuters cite safety concerns for their reluctance to bike on the road. This feeling of safety is either created or impeded by the quality of cycling infrastructure. Due to declining federal and state funding for municipal transportation improvements, more and more cities are looking towards local tax-based funding options like mobility bonds to build this type of infrastructure. These bond packages require significant public input, communication, and buy-in. However, emerging transportation technologies like ride-hailing and micromobility, in addition to fraught histories of grass-roots advocacy, have challenged the way cities communicate with their neighborhoods and residents about sustainable transportation. Contemporary practices of holding open houses, utilizing online commenting systems, and partnering with local advocacy groups help to disseminate information, but still fall short in encouraging active participation and engagement from the public, resulting in a failure to attract the 51% of commuters mentioned above. It is my hypothesis that public life studies, participatory democracy, and tactical urbanism are by nature methods of observation, ideation, and rapid prototyping and iterating respectively that can be used to adapt design thinking to the transportation sector. By using the ChalkTalk framework, designers, residents, and planning professionals alike can collaborate on an innovative way to capture evolving transportation patterns, and create a rich set of qualitative data that lays the groundwork for a better participatory design practice.