In "War on Cars?", Dom Nozzi asks us to ponder whether the so-called war on cars is in fact a war on bicyclists and pedestrians.  Dom concludes:

It appears that there is NOT a “war on cars.” Seems much more reasonable to conclude that there has been a century of all out war against cyclists (and others).

Language shapes our policy in ways that can be subtle, but powerful, by framing the conversation and the range of options available to policymakers. Thought it may seem innocuous enough to refer to a road widening as an "improvement", when considered more closely, this language shows a clear bias. An improvement for whom? [Credit Ian Lockwood for these ideas and the cartoon below. I highly recommend everyone read his interview over on Streetsblog on Language Bias. ]

Credit: Ian Lockwood

Credit: Ian Lockwood

Demand honest language in our conversations. Don't let options be taken off the table before the conversation has even begun by allowing dishonest language to frame the debate and shrink the Overton Window. Examples of biased language, and/or just bad reporting:

  • Level of Service (for cars!)
  • Road improvement (for whom?)
  • War on cars
  • Describing crime as having been committed downtown that was not in fact located downtown
  • Describing crime as having been committed in the city that was in fact located outside the municipality
  • Alternative mode of transportation
  • Describing transit projects as "heavily subsidized", while giving road projects a free pass  

What biased language do you hear being used in your community, and how could it be changed to a more neutral description? Comment below.


Tip of the hat to Iowa transportation planner Brandon Whyte, who led a protected bike lane demonstration in Cedar Rapids. We need more city staff willing to get their hands dirty and do this kind of tactical work to accelerate the pace of change. Bravo, Brandon!

Cedar Rapids multimodal transportation planner Brandon G. Whyte led a demonstration Sunday afternoon of the protected cycle lane that will be part of the reconstruction of 3rd Avenue when it is completed in October. The lane will run from 6th Street SW to 3rd Street SE, at which point it will connect to the traditional-style bike lane that continues to 10th Street SE. [story: Holy Mountain blog]

Is no highway bill better than an ill-advised highway bill that is just more of the same broken approach? Bruce Nesmith of Holy Mountain blog writes about a recent Brookings Institution report and its implications.

Lastly, reposting this video from NextSTL as a conversation starter. Transcript: 

You dreamt of a condo with a view, but then I showed you a suburb school and the view of your daughter’s future made a house look really cool. Let a Remax agent guide you.

Remax, dream with your eyes open.


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