Human rights to the street: Ethical frameworks to guide planning, design, and engineering decisions toward livability, equity, and justice




pedestrian, ethics, walkability, equity


Recently, there has been a renewed interest in statements about people’s rights to our streets. Drawing broadly from the literature and from an examination of a comprehensive collection of these rights, this article works toward establishing a comprehensive ethical framework that can be used to guide planning, design and engineering decisions to support pedestrian rights for street and urban livability. To identify and propose these ethical principles and help achieve optimal livability for individuals, groups and society, we: (a) comprehensively examine the literature to clarify the various concepts of street livability and human rights to the street (as related to a collection of various pedestrian rights statements); (b) explore what is being said in these rights to better understand people’s needs and wants; and (c) provide a roadmap for planners, urban designers, and engineers to address these needs in practice. Building on the previous steps and incorporating business practice literature of Functional Area Ethics, relevant functional areas are identified to help professionals act in support of these pedestrian rights.

Author Biography

William Riggs, University of San Francisco

William (Billy) Riggs, Ph.D., AICP, LEED AP is an assistant professor at University of San Francisco and researcher, strategist and thought leader in the areas of transportation, housing, economics, and emerging technology. He has over 50 publications in these areas, and has had his work featured in multiple national media outlets—including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and the Atlantic. Prior to coming to University of San Francisco, Dr. Riggs held additional academic appointments in city planning, policy and public administration from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, San Jose State University and the University of Louisville. In addition to this academic experience, he worked as a land use and transportation planner, asset manager and economist for over 15 years. Highlights include work as: Principal Planner and Parking and Transportation Program Manager for UC Berkeley; a Senior Planner for the consulting firm Arup where he worked on the environmental and land use planning of over 5,000 acres of former military land in Concord, CA and completed certification of two pilot LEED Neighborhood Design projects; a planner for the US Coast Guard conducting award winning physical design and mobility planning for Coast Guard bases domestically and abroad. Dr. Riggs holds his PhD from UC Berkeley’ s College of Environmental Design, where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow and a University of California, Transportation Center Fellow. He is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), is LEED certified by the US Green Building Council (LEED AP). From 2013-2017 he served on the City of San Luis Obispo, Planning Commission. In addition to his teaching and research role at University of San Francisco, he currently sits on the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Standing Committee on Transportation Economics, provides contributions and strategy to and and consults with Sustinere Consulting.


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How to Cite

Appleyard, B., & Riggs, W. (2021). Human rights to the street: Ethical frameworks to guide planning, design, and engineering decisions toward livability, equity, and justice. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 14(1), 911–931.