Sunday, 3 October 2010

Watch your language

If you are interested in transport and how it is planned around cities, one of the best websites I know of is Human Transit. It is the blog of Jarrett Walker who is an international consultant in public transit network design and policy. He is based in Sydney so totally gets the issues that you come across when designing transit systems in Australian cities.

I follow the blog because it highlights many of the difficulties with designing transit systems and also highlights many of the myths and false assumptions that intrude into the debate.

Two recent posts highlighted what you might perceive to be biased language about city transport. The first, avoiding car-centered language: a directive, links to a directive from the West Palm Beach City Administrator about the use of car-centric language. The directive is here. The amazing thing for me is that it was written in 1996. It's only 4 pages long. Print it and keep it.

The second post, if you mean "car," say "car", and talks about phrases in a transport debate that only make sense from behind a windscreen, such as "installing a pedestrian crossing will slow down traffic". A popular one we read all the time in Adelaide Now is along the lines of "a pedestrian/cyclist was injured today when he/she was hit by a car". The pedestrian has an identity but they are hit (using the passive voice) by an inanimate object - the car.

Both posts, and the whole site, are well worth a read during your coffee break.

No comments:

Post a Comment