Reflections From an Engineer on Advocacy for Transportation Reform

Have you ever felt that communication between politicians, advocates, city planners and department leaders faces huge barriers just because of the very different background and aspects they have? Well, I did and since that I always try to keep in mind, that it’s always the receiver who perceives the message and we shall be aware using the proper language “encryption” to keep a nice and friendly atmosphere around us.

There was an urban and mobility design conference called Pro Walk/Pro Bike: Pro Place 2012 six weeks ago in the United States. Although I have not attended the conference, I think it could be nice for all planners, advocates and other stakeholders to read this feedback letter from Bryan D. Jones (Deputy Director of Transportation Department in City of Carlsbad, USA).

It was published by Gary Toth at the Project for Public Spaces’s blog. The letter partly refers to the venue but has a lot more between the lines.

I might suggest that we can focus on changing to a culture of Active Transportation by changing the language and conversations. We need to identify and LISTEN to what our allies’ and perceived enemies’ objectives are. We should not just be talking, but SHOWING how effective our alternatives are through implementation—even at a small scale—with consistency, which can build a lot of momentum. However this requires us to CONNECT PEOPLE. A title I might suggest for 2014–I heard this “connection” discussion in April Economides presentation about her team’s success in Long Beach with Bicycle Friendly Business Districts. She changed perceptions by changing the language and conversations with people that were against bikes. While her passion is green stuff, she understood the passion of many of the business owners was also “green” $tuff! She spoke with them about the pro$perity of welcoming bike riders into their business districts, and did a lot of listening to their concerns and objectives.

 

Get yourself a coffee and click to read the full letter from  Bryan D. Jones.

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