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Elevated Chicago asking "Can You Walk There?" in TikTok series on access to public transit

Elevated Chicago "Walkability" series talks public transit inequity on TikTok
Elevated Chicago "Walkability" series talks public transit inequity on TikTok 03:18

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Conversations around access to public transportation in Chicago recently have gained popularity on TikTok.

Digital journalist Jamaica Ponder introduces us to the woman behind the viral video series on disparities in the city's public transit.

Elevated Chicago's TikTok series takes viewers across the city in an effort to demonstrate how easy or difficult it is to access various points of public transportation.

With over 11,000 views on her most popular video. Jannice Newson's "Can You Walk There?" series has brought accessible public transportation and its disparities to TikTok.

"When you're walking in one area versus another, there's a stark difference in between those neighborhoods. You could be on the North Side, walking past bars and gardens and apartments, and then you go back home and you're not walking past anything. There is an inequity there, and from that, that's why I started this channel, and I wanted to be able to highlight what's going on, and why we do need to be concerned about how people move around, specifically those that use transit," Newson  said.

While walking through North Lawndale to the Kedzie-Homan Blue Line stop, "there were vacant lots along the way that had litter within them, and there was a knocked-down bike rack too," Newson said.

Newson works for Elevated Chicago, a collaboration of community-based organizations, artists, financial institutions, and the like. Their goal is to help advance equitable transit-oriented development in the city.

"Developing near transit, specifically in areas where they are at risk of disinvestment or displacement due to gentrification, that creates a vibrant community for the people who are currently there, and makes it a way for them to be able to access the things that they need on a day-to-day basis.

Her "Walkability" series came from her own difficulty trying to reach a train station.

"Garbage on the sidewalk. There was construction pieces on the sidewalk, and I couldn't get around. I couldn't get through. I ended up having to walk like three blocks out of the way," she said.

The inaccessibility frustrated Newson, especially when she considered how impossible the trek might have been for someone with different abilities.

"As I'm someone who walks, I was able to get around, but if I were in a wheelchair, I might have just been stuck. So after that day, I decided to start recording when I walked places, and that's how this series is born," she said.

For her latest "Can You Walk There?" episode, she walked with Ponder from the BeeLove Café to the Kedzie-Homan Blue Line station, stopping at a few community enrichment sites along the way.

While it wasn't a horrible walk from the café to the train, it certainly wasn't an easy one either. And the Kedzie-Homan Blue Line stop is on a really busy part of Homan Avenue, along the Eisenhower Expressway, and it's thanks to organizations like Elevated Chicago and series like "Walkability" that we're able to see in real-time the disparities that exist for Chicagoans for trying to public transportation purely based on where they live in the city.

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