[Excerpt] Another interesting point to make a note of is that the number of positions accessible by bicycle is greater than the number of positions accessible by public transportation. This indicates that it is also worthwhile to think about improving the current condition of bike routes and bike rack-equipped transit systems, so that both biking and public transit (or the two combined, as bikes can reduce workers’ time getting to or from bus stops) are more on par with private automobiles. Major barriers remain here: in DataHaven’s Greater New Haven Wellbeing Survey, only half of adults in the city center felt they had places to bicycle in their neighborhoods that were safe from traffic.
Aside from these three specific cases, the map also brings to life the implications of “spatial mismatch,” that is, the fact that employment opportunities for low-income people are increasingly located farther from the neighborhoods where they live. Poverty clusters in older urban centers and peripheral cities such as Waterbury and Meriden, but low-wage, low-skill job opportunities are becoming more concentrated in wealthier suburban districts. According to DataHaven, which is conducting a Jobs Access and Transit Study, the mismatch between where low-income residents work and where they live is clear in Greater New Haven, particularly for people of color:
There are 4,000 African-American and Hispanic workers earning less than $40,000/year who live in New Haven’s “Outer Ring suburbs,” a collection of 10 towns that surround our core municipalities of New Haven, East Haven, Hamden, and West Haven – that represents 4 percent of the total number of workers who live in those towns. At the same time, there are 16,000 African-American and Hispanic workers earning less than $40,000/year who hold jobs in those towns – that’s 15 percent of the total employment base in those towns.
As we showed in our Community Index, high-income workers living in our suburbs rely on New Haven for the majority of their high-paying jobs, but they also rely in large part on a substantially less well-paid, diverse workforce that commutes in from places like New Haven. If everyone had access to high-quality transportation whether or not they owned a vehicle, more of these suburban jobs – many of which fall within second shifts at retail centers – might be accessible to city residents.