Suggested Practices for the Transportation Planning Community

Suggested Practices for the Transportation Planning Community

Doing Things Differently

Moving beyond traditional approaches to engaging hard to reach groups, can open pathways for meaningful understanding, input, involvement, and discussion. In December, 2019 we tested new learning tools for meaningful engagement with local transportation planners.

The new tools include our transportation planning self-study and instructor modules.  You will find this content here in draft form.

We would like to receive any feedback you may have about the self-study and instructor modules. You may email Dr. Andress at

We plan to analyze our focus group feedback, any ideas that we receive, interview our community experts again, then revise and present the modules in final form.

Purpose and Goals of Instructor and Self-Study Modules

West Virginia’s underrepresented citizens—including seniors, low-wealth, minority, disabled, and the homeless—suffer poor health, poverty, food insecurity and economic challenges that are aggravated by insufficient access to affordable, reliable transportation services. WV’s lack of roads, transit, and pedestrian infrastructure exacerbates the community’s rate of food insecurity, poor nutrition, obesity, diabetes, traffic injuries and death.

Engaging underrepresented groups in transportation decision making is critical to addressing these issues, and WV’s transportation planning agencies strive to meaningfully engage underrepresented citizens in planning efforts. However, these citizens can be hard-to-reach and may be navigating day-to-day struggles that make their participation in civic activities difficult. They may not realize that their input into transportation planning can help improve the quality of their lives and neighborhoods.

To help address these challenges, the Instructor and Self-Study training modules offer transportation planners (1) strategies for teaching underrepresented citizens how the transportation planning process works, (2) new outreach and advertising techniques for engaging underrepresented citizens in transportation planning, and (3) ideas for convening more effective public meetings.

Instructor Modules 1-2-3: Teaching the Transportation Planning Process to Underrepresented  Citizens can be used by any person who wants to teach the transportation planning process to underrepresented groups, including transportation agency staff members such as planners and engineers; local leaders, board and committee members; and social service agency personnel. The modules address how the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization (MMMPO) and local transportation planning processes work, the relevance of transportation planning to underrepresented citizens’ communities and lives, and why and how to get involved.

Self-Study Modules 1-2-3-4: Advertising and Convening Public Meetings with Underrepresented  Groups are designed for independent study by transportation agency personnel and others who want to learn strategies for improving outreach to underrepresented  populations to engage them in transportation planning. The modules address (1) developing relationships with underrepresented  groups, (2) developing effective advertising messaging, (3) identifying advertising/communication venues, and (4) conducting public meetings.

Links to the modules are provided below.

Next Steps in Developing Tools for Doing Things Differently

Additional modules will be developed to teach transportation planners how to use creative placemaking tools (photo narratives, video, role-playing, storytelling, writing, drawing/painting, etc.) that offer a much better chance of establishing a dialogue with underrepresented  groups, understanding their needs and including those needs in the planning process and subsequent long-range plans. These creative place-making strategies can help achieve transportation planning that is community driven, rooted in public participation, and embraces the community in its entirety.

Ultimately, this project seeks to assist transportation planners in their efforts to identify the full array of transportation problems and develop solutions to address those problems. When underrepresented citizens’ voices are missing from planning efforts, their transportation problems and needs often remain unidentified and unmet. As a result, transportation solutions can fail to serve the entire community by, for example, focusing on moving cars from point-to-point vs. considering multiple modes of transit such as buses, pedestrian or bicycle pathways that may meet the needs of the broader community. Doing things differently and using new communication, engagement, and creative placemaking approaches can help ensure all voices are represented in the transportation planning process.

Links to modules:

Instructor Modules

Instructor Module 1: Introduction to Teaching Transportation Planning to Underrepresented  Citizens provides an introduction to transportation planners or other trainers about using the accompanying Modules 2 and 3 to teach the transportation planning process to underrepresented citizens.

Instructor Module 2: How the Transportation Planning Process Works explains components of the transportation planning process; the local, state, and federal agencies involved, including the Morgantown Monongalia County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MMMPO); and the public’s role.

Instructor Module 3: How and Why Underrepresented Citizens Should Get Involved in Transportation Planning examines the importance of underrepresented citizens’ involvement in transportation planning, the laws requiring citizen input, and how underrepresented citizens can get involved.

Self-Study Modules

Self-Study Module 1: Advertising a MeetingWorking with Underrepresented  Groups’ Trusted Allies and Advocates discusses why a transportation planning agency’s current advertising efforts to engage underrepresented citizens may not be achieving the desired results and suggests ways to improve those efforts by working with underrepresented groups’ trusted allies and advocates.

Self-Study Module 2: Advertising a MeetingCrafting the Message identifies ways to craft effective advertising and outreach messages for underrepresented populations.

Self-Study Module 3: Advertising a MeetingPreferred Communication Channels/Venues presents suggestions for using new advertising and outreach venues (i.e. radio, newspaper, web, face-to-face, etc.) to engage underrepresented citizens.

Self-Study Module 4: Convening a Meeting offers strategies for planning and conducting public meetings so that they are more accessible, understandable, and welcoming to underrepresented citizens.