This Is­sue |

Ottawa Magazine - - THIS ISSUE - Dayanti Karunaratne, EDI­TOR feed­back­ot­tawa@stjoseph­me­dia.com By Dayanti Karunaratne

Eq­uity. We hear a lot about it these days, and we tend to use the words “eq­uity” and “equal­ity” in­ter– change­ably. But in fact-check­ing Isaac Würmann’s fea­ture on Ot­tawa’s bike lanes (“The Miss­ing Links,” p. 27), I found a vivid il­lus­tra­tion of how these two con­cepts dif­fer. The draw­ing in the Au­tumn 2016 is­sue of Mo­men­tum Magazine shows three peo­ple rid­ing to­gether, each on a sim­i­lar bike. But not ev­ery­one is suc­ceed­ing — the adult in the lead is hav­ing a fine time, but the prob­lem for the small chil­dren who strug­gle to keep up is ob­vi­ous: their tools just aren’t work­ing for them.

The pic­ture points to the dif­fer­ence be­tween equal­ity and eq­uity: equal­ity is about even dis­tri­bu­tion for all, while eq­uity as­sesses the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion — Who has re­ceived more in the past? Who faces more chal­lenges? — be­fore dol­ing out the goods. And the goods, in this case, are bike lanes and other re­sources that help get more peo­ple com­mut­ing on two wheels, adding up to de­creased traf­fic con­ges­tion, re­duced pol­lu­tion, im­proved phys­i­cal and emo­tional health, and the other so­cial goods as­so­ci­ated with bik­ing.

That said, the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion isn’t all about in­come lev­els. Würmann’s ar­ti­cle uses in­come lev­els as a way to re­veal how some neigh­bour­hoods are stranded by a sea of ar­te­rial roads, while oth­ers are con­nected by seg­re­gated bike lanes. But it would be wrong to as­sume that ev­ery­one views bike com­mut­ing through the same lens. To truly dig into the is­sue of eq­uity when it comes to bike in­fra­struc­ture means tack­ling some big­ger ques­tions. What keeps peo­ple back from bik­ing as a form of trans­porta­tion? Who speaks for bike com­muters, and why?

To an­swer these ques­tions means bring­ing more voices into the con­ver­sa­tion be­cause it’s dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand what peo­ple need — what, ex­actly, their cur­rent sit­u­a­tion calls for — if their voices aren’t heard. It’s in­ter­est­ing to note that this story is by a writer new to Ot­tawa Magazine. Würmann is a third-year jour­nal­ism stu­dent at Car­leton Univer­sity who first wrote the piece for a re­port­ing class and was en­cour­aged to pitch it to us by his pro­fes­sor. At Ot­tawa Magazine, we wel­come new writ­ers be­cause that is what will make our pub­li­ca­tion rel­e­vant in this fast-paced dig­i­tal me­dia en­vi­ron­ment. We want to give ideas, writ­ers, and dis­rupters of all stripes a space to de­bate in a world that is in­creas­ingly ac­cusatory and di­vi­sive. And even if that means agree­ing to dis­agree, as might be the case in Ron Cor­bett’s piece on Pa­panack Zoo and Sam Chilton’s look at the two sides of the GMO de­bate, at least we have of­fered a fair — and fact-checked — ex­am­i­na­tion.

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