Access to safe public transport and mobility is a basic need and is recognized as such by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 11.2. It’s essential for participation in economic, social and cultural activities. Vulnerable individuals — including women, children, residents of lower-income and communities of color, persons with disabilities and older persons — need special attention to ensure access. 

Accessibility is important to the success of decarbonization and is a goal in and of itself. 

It is important that the transition of the world’s energy systems to decarbonized travel modes is accomplished equitably in a way that provides opportunity for everyone. 

In many countries, transport systems have been built to favor automobiles and rapid personal travel. Often, planners have overlooked how these individualized transport investments benefit persons at every income level, especially poor, marginalized people. Research from cities in the U.S., Brazil, Kenya and Mexico shows high-income residents enjoy better access to jobs and other opportunities due to the location of housing and transit infrastructure. Countries and cities need to prioritize transport systems that provide equal access to opportunities.

Safety is just as important in a decarbonized world as it is in our current system. 

All road users — including cyclists and pedestrians — deserve access to safe mobility options. Although road fatalities have slowly declined in recent years, they are still a long way from zero. And the downward trend is not universal: Vehicles in some countries, like the U.S., are becoming larger on average, and therefore more dangerous to pedestrians, cyclists and smaller vehicles.

Data Insights

What targets are most important to reach in the future?

Systems Change Lab has identified 2 targets to track progress. Click a chart to explore the data.

What factors may enable and prevent change?

Systems Change Lab has identified 1 factor of change that may catalyze or impede progress. Click a chart to explore the data.

Progress toward targets

Systems Change Lab has identified 2 targets target to track progress. Explore the data below.

Access to green mobility for lower-income and disadvantaged communities

An equitable transition to a zero-carbon transport system requires that all segments of society benefit, so it is key to measure the level of access to sustainable mobility by lower-income and disadvantaged communities.

An equitable transition to a zero-carbon transport system requires that all segments of society benefit, including lower-income and disadvantaged communities. Although SDG 11.2 centers on providing access to sustainable transport systems for all, it is equally important to measure the level of access to sustainable mobility for lower-income and disadvantaged communities.

This could take the form of equitable access to public transport, accounting for factors such as ethnicity and socio-economic status. Although no global dataset has been identified, some regions provide illustrative examples. For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Disadvantaged Census estimates that over 22,000 neighborhoods are transportation disadvantaged.

Many communities, not only those in developing countries, rely on the informal transport sector, such as microbuses and motorcycles, for their mobility. Informal systems play an important role in serving residents’ mobility needs, and documenting access to these systems can help inform planning and interventions to improve safety and security and better address environmental challenges.

Access to green mobility may also relate to public charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs) used by renters, residents in multi-unit dwellings, or residents without dedicated parking in lower-income and disadvantaged communities. The access gap to public EV charging stations for black and Hispanic communities in the U.S. is well-documented in New York, California and Chicago.

Comprehensive, high-resolution modeling evaluating the environmental justice and energy equity of the nationwide EV charging infrastructure in the U.S. is being developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), but no aggregate indicators have been identified. As EV penetration increases in a growing number of countries, equity issues in access to EV infrastructure could grow if these discrepancies are not addressed.

Number of road fatalities

In 2021, a renewed effort began to reduce the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents. Annual global road fatalities were about 16.7 per 100,000 people in 2019.

Heavy reliance on road transport and interaction between vehicles and cyclists or pedestrians brings the danger of road fatalities.

Annual global road fatalities were about 19 per 100,000 people from 2000–2003 and declined to 16.7 per 100,000 people in 2019 (the most recent year of data). The number includes pedestrian, cyclist, motor vehicle and other road injuries, with pedestrian and cyclist fatalities accounting for nearly half of the total. It has been shown that communities of color and lower-income communities are disproportionately affected by pedestrian fatalities.

In 2015, SDG 3.6 called for halving the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents between 2010 and 2020, but this goal was not reached. The number of fatalities per 100,000 people only fell about 8 percent from 2010 to 2019. In 2021, a renewed effort began to halve deaths from road accidents from 2021 levels by 2030. Recent progress needs to accelerate by more than 10x to meet the 2030 goal.

Enablers and barriers

We monitor momentum by tracking a set of 1 factors factor that can enable or prevent progress. Explore the data and learn about key actions driving progress.

Population with safe and convenient access to public transport and infrastructure

Strong Institutions
The proportion of the global urban population with safe and convenient access to public transport has stagnated at about 50% since 2018, reaching 52% in 2020.

The proportion of the global urban population with safe and convenient access to public transport has stagnated at about 50% since 2018, reaching 52% in 2020. Access is lowest across Africa and west and central Asia, and highest in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America.

Low access to public transport means a higher reliance on lower-capacity, high-carbon modes of travel, including fossil fuel-powered cars or two- and three-wheelers. This means more air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, especially if stringent standards are not in place to control pollution.

Access to public transportation was impeded at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with lockdowns and labor shortages closing transit systems. While many public transport providers have seen ridership climb back, others are experiencing prolonged ridership reductions. At present, it’s unclear how changing mobility patterns and travel behaviors will continue to impact public transport, and what changes in system planning will be needed to adapt.