Greater Greater Washington

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Shocking rhetoric from John Townsend and AAA

This week's Washington City Paper cover story quoted AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend calling Greater Greater Washington editor David Alpert "retarded" and a "ninny," and comparing Greater Greater Washington to the Ku Klux Klan.

Many other reporters, people on Twitter, and residents generally have clearly stated in response what should of course go without saying, that such personal attacks are beyond the pale.

Some may get the sense that there is personal animosity between Townsend and the team here at Greater Greater Washington. At least on our end, nothing could be further from the truth. We simply disagree with many of his policy positions and his incendiary rhetoric.

Spirited argument is important in public policy, but it should not cross into insults. When it does, that has a chilling effect on open discourse. Fostering an inclusive conversation about the shape of our region is the purpose of this site, but discourse must be civil to be truly open. That's why our comment policy here on Greater Greater Washington prohibits invective like this. In our articles, we try hard to avoid crossing this line, and are disappointed when we or others do, intentionally or inadvertently.

The "war on cars" frame unnecessarily pits drivers against cyclists and pedestrians instead of working together for positive solutions. The City Paper article, by Aaron Wiener, does a good job of debunking that, and is worth reading for much more than the insults it quotes.

When pressed, Townsend told Wiener he wants to back away from the "war on cars."

"I regret the rhetoric sometimes," he says. "Because I think that when you use that type of language, it shuts down communication with people who disagree."
We hope Townsend, his colleagues, and their superiors also regret the things he said about David and Greater Greater Washington. We look forward to the day when AAA ceases using antagonistic language and begins working toward safety, mobility, and harmony among all road users.

In the meantime, residents do have a choice when purchasing towing, insurance, and travel discounts. Better World Club is one company that offers many of the same benefits as AAA, but without the disdain.

Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for the Arlington County Department of Transportation. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives a car-free lifestyle in Northwest Washington. His posts are his own opinions and do not represent the views of his employer in any way. He runs the blog BeyondDC and also contributes to the Washington Post Local Opinions blog. 
Ken Archer is CTO of a software firm in Tysons Corner. He commutes to Tysons by bus from his home in Georgetown, where he lives with his wife and son. Ken completed a Masters degree in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America. 
David Edmondson is a transportation and urban affairs enthusiast living in Mount Vernon Square. He blogs about Marin County, California, at The Greater Marin
Ben Ross was president of the Action Committee for Transit for 15 years. His new book about the politics of urbanism and transit, Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism, is published by Oxford University Press. 
Aimee Custis is the Communications Manager at the Coalition for Smarter Growth. A policy wonk by training and a transit advocate by profession, she moved to DC in 2008 to learn everything she could about walkable communities and public policy. Also a photographer, she photoblogs at aimeecustis.com
A planner and architect by training, Dan Reed also writes his own blog, Just Up the Pike, and serves as the Land Use Chair for the Action Committee for Transit. He lives in downtown Silver Spring. 
Geoff Hatchard lived in DC's Trinidad neighborhood. The opinions and views expressed in Geoff's writing on this blog are his, and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer. 
Rahul Mereand-Sinha was born in DC and grew up nearby in Bethesda. He now lives in Kalorama Triangle with his wife Katherine. He has a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Maryland and moonlights as a macroeconomist. 
Jaime Fearer worked in the book industry for over 10 years before pursuing a graduate planning degree, and she is a community planner in Greenbelt, MD. When she first moved to NE DC, she ran stop, blog, and roll. Jaime now lives in Trinidad DC, where she serves on the neighborhood associationís board. 
Topher Mathews has lived in the DC area since 1999. He created the Georgetown Metropolitan in 2008 to report on news and events for the neighborhood and to advocate for changes that will enhance its urban form and function. A native of Wilton, CT, he lives with his wife and new daughter in Georgetown.  
Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master's in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. Heís a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Planning Department. His views are his own and do not represent the opinion of his employer. 
Michael Perkins blogs about Metro operations and fares, performance parking, and any other government and economics information he finds on the Web. He lives with his wife and two children in Arlington, Virginia. 
Martin Moulton is an education advocate who lives in the Shaw neighborhood. He is originally from California where he attended public, private and parochial schools. He works in the tech sector. A life long cyclist/non-driver, he serves on the board of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Moulton has served as a consultant to KIPP DC in its community outreach. 
Steven Glazerman is an economist who studies education policy and specializes in teacher labor markets. He has lived in the DC area off and on since 1987 and settled in the U Street neighborhood in 2001. He is a co-founder of Washington Yu Ying public charter school and is a Senior Fellow at Mathematica Policy Research, but any of his views expressed here are his own and do not represent Yu Ying or Mathematica. 
Tracey Johnstone is a recovering political pollster who is completing a dissertation on Russian economic reform. She is also secretary of the Action Committee for Transit. She has lived in downtown Bethesda since 1996, and previously lived in Toronto, Moscow, and Alexandria (before the Metro).  
Among his many non-paying gigs, Tim Krepp is a a tour guide, conducting tours mainly in DC and New York. He also runs his own blog, DC Like a Local, which attempts to make some sense of the DC trip for our wayward visitors, and as a Capitol Hill resident contributes regularly to The Hill is Home. All of these are mere distractions to his main job as a stay at home dad. 
Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.  
Sandra Moscoso runs the World Bank Finances Program by day and works on community efforts around education, active transportation, and open government by night. Sandra lives in small, quaint, Washington, DC, where she tries to get a little biking in with her husband and two children. 
Nick Casey is a Project Manager at the Center for American Progress. He and his wife live in Takoma DC. Nick is originally from the west side of Cleveland and attended Denison University. His posts do not necessarily reflect the views of his employer.  
Joe Weedon is an advocate for educational excellence in DC and has brought together District residents to improve access to and the quality of child care, early education and public schools in the District. Joe lives in Ward 6 with his wife and two children who attend their neighborhood DCPS school. 
Canaan Merchant was born and raised in Powhatan, Virginia and attended George Mason University where he studied English. He became interested in urban design and transportation issues when listening to a presentation by Jeff Speck while attending GMU. He lives in Falls Church.  
Bradley Heard is an attorney and citizen activist who resides in the Capitol Heights area of Prince George's County. A native of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Brad spent most of his adult life in Atlanta, Georgia before moving to Prince George's County in 2007. Brad hopes to encourage high-quality, walkable and bikeable development in the inner Beltway region of Prince George's County. 
Jereme Altendorf is your typical political junkie and addicted to issues related to public transportation, inter-city rail and urbanism. Professionally, he is a US Coast Guard Reserve Officer and an environmental emergency response expert who consults with federal agencies to develop environmental emergency response and regulatory programs.  
Originally from Rhode Island, Jacques Arsenault holds a masters in public policy from Georgetown and has lived in the DC area for the past 15 years. He works as a policy analyst for the federal government by day and grows mustaches for kids by night. He also blogs at Jacques of All Trades. The views expressed here are his own, and do not reflect those of his employer. 
Brent Bolin is a local environmental and community activist with a background in environmental law, science, and policy. He is passionate about social justice, livable cities, and sustainable urbanism. Brent lives in the Gateway Arts District (on the border of Ward 5) in Mount Rainier, MD where he serves on city council and blogs about local issues
Abigail Zenner is a member of the Ward 3 Vision Steering Committee and often described as a professional parking nerd. A former higher education policy advocate, she changed gears to the smart growth world to pursue her passion for working to create a more livable DC. When she's not nerding out about smart growth, you may find her teaching a fitness class. 
John Muller is an associate librarian, journalist and historian. He has written two books, Frederick Douglass in Washington, DC, Mark Twain in Washington, DC, and also writes at Death and Life of Old Anacostia
Brian McEntee writes the blog Tales From the Sharrows, where he talks about his daily bicycle commute from Capitol Hill to American University or many other subjects. 
Ben Harris lives in Rockville, where he writes the North Bethesda-focused blog NorthFlintVille. Prior to moving to Montgomery County in 2011, he lived for 5 years in DC's Logan Circle neighborhood, where he served on the ANC 2F Community Development Committee and Arts Overlay Review Committee. From 2007 to 2011, he and his wife maintained the Logan Circle and Shaw-focused blog 14th&You. 
Sarah Lewis is an architect by training urban designer by choice. She works for Fuss & O'Neill and contributes to the American Society of Landscape Architects blog, The Dirt
Sally Hobaugh runs the blog Life on the Edgewood about the Edgewood neighborhood in Northeast DC, where she lives, works and plays. She is on the board of the Edgewood Civic Association and The Friends of Edgewood Recreation Center. She also runs the Edgewood Neighborhood Monthly Cleanup, which she started in 2008.  
Ryan Sigworth is an urban planner at the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission. He bikes or takes public transit to work from his house in Adams Morgan, where he has lived car-free with his wife and cat since 2009. He is a cyclist, urbanist, and smart growth advocate who blogs on his personal blog, The DCyclist. 
Darren Buck is a graduate of the Virginia Tech Urban Affairs and Planning program and the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. He blogs at bikepedantic and works at the US Department of Transportation. All content and opinions expressed are his own, and in no way reflect the views of USDOT. 
Mark Jordan is a Capitol Hill resident and public sector management consultant. From 2000 to 2004, Mark worked on public safety issues for DC Mayor Anthony Williams. 
Miles Grant grew up in Boston riding the Green Line, and has lived in Northern Virginia riding the Orange Line since 2002. Also blogging at The Green Miles, he believes enhancing smart growth makes the DC area not just more environmentally sustainable, but a healthier and more vibrant place to live, work and play. 
Jessica Christy has two children learning Chinese at Washington Yu Ying, where she is also the president of the Parent Association. For work, she does industrial hygiene consulting and stays at home with her two-year-old. In her free time (ha!), Jessica enjoys needlepoint and DIY home improvement. All opinions stated here are her own. 
Laura McSorley is a former DC teacher who taught Head Start in two DCPS schools and pre-K at Bridges Public Charter School. She lives in Southeast Capitol Hill with her husband, Tom, and is learning to be a runner. Laura works with Teach For America's early childhood education initiative around the country. All opinions, views, and mistakes are solely hers alone. 
Nolan Treadway is Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for district 5C-07, covering parts of Woodridge and Langdon neighborhoods in Northeast DC. By day Nolan works at Netroots Nation and by night he hangs out with his wife, Joan, their daughter. 
Stewart Schwartz is Executive Director and a founder of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, which he built into the leading smart growth organization in the Washington, DC region, addressing the interconnected issues of land use, transportation, urban design, housing, and energy. A retired Navy Captain with 24 years of active and reserve service, he earned a BA and JD from the University of Virginia and an MA from Georgetown University. 

Comments

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As I noted in an email to David earlier today, if you can't win on substance, use names. That is what AAA where has resorted. I am glad I ditched them for the BWC a couple of years ago.

If the AAA and others want to engage in a constructive dialogue around transportation, pollution and land use, then let's do it based on facts.

by Andrew on Apr 18, 2013 3:08 pm • linkreport

Better World Club membership count += 1
And worth noting that they waive their signup fee if you provide them with your soon-to-be-cancelled AAA number.

by Paul on Apr 18, 2013 3:15 pm • linkreport

AAA Sounds a bit over the top'ish but this shouldn't be surprising.

If the articles don't, the comments usually are extremely disparaging of AAA. So no one should be surprised by this at all. What? We expect people to say, "oh this is fair criticism of us...let's not strike back?"

This is one of the challenges of online accountability. The authors might not write w/the intention of inflaming wars...but the comments most certainly do.

And this ends up being the response..seen through the eyes of the offended.

by HogWash on Apr 18, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

Imagine if the NRA or the NAACP had said such things.

I have no idea what sort of organization would fail to at least issue a public reprimand as a response to having one of its chief public voices use such invective. There's no imaginable excuse, and to let it pass without even apology is close to an endorsement.

by DaveS on Apr 18, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

Others have pointed this out in AAA discussions in the past, but you can also probably just get towing and roadside assistance coverage through your insurance company for less than AAA or BWC.

I think I only pay a buck or two a month for that through my insurance company, USAA. I switched when I first read about the ridiculous campaigns AAA was running years ago, but I'm also glad to be saving money. And I've used USAA's roadside services multiple times and never had a problem.

by Gray on Apr 18, 2013 3:23 pm • linkreport

I was just shocked that this is how adults talk about other adults that they personally know. And not even any sort of personal grudge, this is all "business" over something that by and large a lot of people really don't care about.

by drumz on Apr 18, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

I switched to Better World Club two years ago because I was fed up with having Townsend and Anderson out there speaking against my interests. I own two cars, but I also walk and bike, and I will not pay AAA to lobby against me when I'm not in a car.

by Wayne Phyillaier on Apr 18, 2013 3:29 pm • linkreport

I found Mr Townsend's comments shockingly unprofessional, even for him. Gotta love how he claims to want to be above the fray and bad language and then gets right into it when talking about David. Congrats, David, for getting under Mr. Townsend's skin!

by MLD on Apr 18, 2013 3:30 pm • linkreport

Thank you, GGW. Your blog is my go-to place for substantive, well-reasoned, well-informed discussion of these issues. The contrast between your informational advocacy and AAA's atrocious and embarassing name-calling couldn't be more striking. Keep up your great work.

by Nicolle on Apr 18, 2013 3:32 pm • linkreport

Well, I think you should bump this up to the National AAA level. They claim a much different agenda than that espoused by the Mid Atlantic chapter. They tout the Pacific NW AAA's provision of bike related services. The Can. AA is a major funder of the Ontario Share the Road org's advertising campaign and the national AAA has adopted the same ads.

http://newsroom.aaa.com/

http://newsroom.aaa.com/contact-us/

Yolanda Cates, the Nat. AAA director of PR was a featured speaker at the Nat. Bike Summit and did a nice job. But there wasn't an opportunity for questions, or I would have asked her about this particular issue.

This is one of their stated org. values:

Commitment to Community and Country

We will be good corporate neighbors, engaging in public service consistent with our mission, the needs of members, the communities we serve, and the national interest. In pursuing public policy positions, AAA will remain objective and responsible, relying on our credibility, expertise, and research in public policy formulation.

Then again, their values include commitment to the org., members and maybe they think nonautomobile users are pretty heinous.

by Richard Layman on Apr 18, 2013 3:33 pm • linkreport

I FINALLY ditched AAA last week for BWC! The operator who "helped" me cancel my membership was rude and antagonistic as soon as I mentioned that I was cancelling precisely b/c of Mr. Townsend's "War on Cars" rhetoric and AAA lobbying that opposes safer streets for all users.

by thump on Apr 18, 2013 3:38 pm • linkreport

I'm not a member but I'm encouraging my family to discontinue their membership.

by Alan B. on Apr 18, 2013 3:42 pm • linkreport

I was just shocked that this is how adults talk about other adults that they personally know.

Really? You must not have been paying attention to any political discourse of the past several, several years. I mean seriously. What Townsend said, while bad, is more the norm than not nowadays. Whether we think our intentions are good or not, even the smallest number of disparaging remarks will always be remembered.

Aaron did a great job w/the article though. Very middle of the road'ish. I didn't know about DAl's twitter attack though. Was surprised to hear him even refer to somebody/thing as bile.

by HogWash on Apr 18, 2013 3:42 pm • linkreport

What did AAA national have to say about it? Did you contact them?

by Justin on Apr 18, 2013 3:45 pm • linkreport

What's really shocking here is that the media ask AAA for its comments on policy in the first place. Not a well-informed or intelligent source. Any idiot can spew childlike insults or nonsense. That doesn't make it newsworthy.

by Greenbelt on Apr 18, 2013 3:46 pm • linkreport

Late to the party here but will gladly cosign as a GGW contributor, local elected official, and human being.

Rhetoric like this is why we can't have nice things.

by Brent Bolin on Apr 18, 2013 3:46 pm • linkreport

This seems like an excessive response. Townsend does not come off well, esp. when you toss in the reporters comments about his driving! Indeed, the reporter's tone seems like the best way to deal with someone whose approach to these issues is so anachronistic. Unmentioned in the article is that AAA has long taken these kinds of stands and not just in this region.

by Rich on Apr 18, 2013 3:47 pm • linkreport

In an effort to take the conversation back to the issues, I hopped in Townsend’s white Ford Five Hundred for a spin around town and a tour of where, exactly, the city has been declaring war. For a man whose job is all about cars, and who drives downtown from Mitchellville, Md., every day, Townsend is a surprisingly bad driver.

This guy doesn't actually exist, does he? Surely he's a straw-man created by urbanists to discredit the AAA. A Maryland commuter from PG County who drives downtown from PG county every day?

Ok, I'll play. Let's say he does exist. In that case, I'm not surprised he's angry at changes in District transpo policy. Up until 5-6 years ago, DDOT's focus was on serving out-of-town commuters. People got used to that, and now things have changed. Good for District residents; not so good for car commuters in PG County.

Though that doesn't explain his ridiculous unprofessionalism.

by oboe on Apr 18, 2013 3:50 pm • linkreport

Thank you for standing up to Townsend's ad hominem attacks and bullying.

by Cavan on Apr 18, 2013 3:50 pm • linkreport

GGW gains absolutely nothing by addressing the comments especially if "GGW" does not address the rest of the substance of the article.

by selxic on Apr 18, 2013 3:51 pm • linkreport

Hah! Even better:

For a man whose job is all about cars, and who drives downtown from Mitchellville, Md., every day, Townsend is a surprisingly bad driver. He runs a red light in front of Union Station—he claims he just missed the yellow, but it really wasn’t close—and nearly gets in an accident. He gets turned around on Capitol Hill and drives in a big circle while trying to find I-295. And he seems a little paranoid of the speed cameras he regularly assails, sometimes driving more than 10 miles an hour under the speed limit and annoying nearby drivers.

I look forward to being hit by this clown when he performs an illegal u-turn on PA Ave.

by oboe on Apr 18, 2013 3:52 pm • linkreport

GGW gains absolutely nothing by addressing the comments especially if "GGW" does not address the rest of the substance of the article.

You mean the substance that there is no War on Cars, and that the changes in traffic policy are basically just a local government responding to the needs of its citizens? How should GGW address that exactly?

by oboe on Apr 18, 2013 3:54 pm • linkreport

I ditched AAA 12 years ago after they took 4 hours to respond to a lock-out call.

I keep a spare car key in my wallet, adopted a strict procedure for leaving behind my jacket or changing clothes in a remote location, and I also carry jumper cables all the time. I haven't needed to call anyone since.

by Frank IBC on Apr 18, 2013 3:56 pm • linkreport

His comments on what "could" happen on Metro are hardly productive discussion. So I take he doesn't go anywhere in public as a result of what "could" happen there?

by Adam P. on Apr 18, 2013 3:59 pm • linkreport

Mr. Townsend seems to be fighting a war on youth, good sex, fine wine, movies, enjoyment in general maybe? Maybe he just needs a hug?

Townsend agrees that a generational change is responsible for the evolving approach to transportation, but he sees it as the product of “arrogance” inherent to young people who think they can reinvent the world. “It’s not changing the world; it’s reinventing it because you’re experiencing it for the first time,” he says, waxing a bit poetic. “Nothing wrong with that. So: ‘We’re having the best sex ever. We’re drinking the best wine ever. We’re watching the best movies ever.’ Because none of this mattered that came before. None of it matters, until you wake up one day and discover there’s a gray speck in your beard and you’ve lost a step.”

Actually, while I'd love to change the world, I mostly just want to be able to get home safely without being run over by a self-entitled Maryland commuter in a 3,000 pound death machine.

by Greenbelt on Apr 18, 2013 3:59 pm • linkreport

GGW gains absolutely nothing by addressing the comments especially if "GGW" does not address the rest of the substance of the article.

I think the Washington City Paper speaks for itself.

by 7r3y3r on Apr 18, 2013 4:00 pm • linkreport

I meant *Washington City Paper article*

by 7r3y3r on Apr 18, 2013 4:00 pm • linkreport

Well, it does make "myopic little twits" sound good by comparison.

by Sally on Apr 18, 2013 4:02 pm • linkreport

I am outright appalled by Mr. Townsend's remarks. The notion that David Alpert is "developmentally retarded" is so completely absurd that I question Mr. Townsend's capacity to hold a position where he is expected to engage in serious public dialogue about anything.

Berating this website with a comparison to the Ku Klux Klan is an outrageous remark. As if David and the contributors showed extremist vitriol towards anyone who disagrees with their fiery leftist agenda. For shame.

In 2008 I was recently separated from the military and I had a growing interest in urban planning. David Alpert eagerly welcomed me to write for him despite the fact that he probably had little in common with a Prince George's County war veteran with an associates degree who moonlights as a bouncer. I was encouraged to express ideas which were often not neccessarily in keeping with the popular sentiments of contributors or readers. In fact, on several occasions, David curtailed incindiary comments on articles I had posted, part of what I have always seen as a commitment to keeping the dialog on this website intellectual. In my experience, David Alpert has done nothing with this website that would merit a comparison to a hate group. Quite the opposite. Thank you, David, for allowing me to participate in Greater Greater Washington, and for all the good that it has done for the place I have called home my entire life.

I have not been a member of AAA since 2006. I will certainly never be going back now.

by Dave Murphy on Apr 18, 2013 4:09 pm • linkreport

GGW gains absolutely nothing by addressing the comments especially if "GGW" does not address the rest of the substance of the article.

I respectfully submit that GGW addresses issues raised in the WCP nearly every single day. There's no need to rehash them here, at least not in the context of a relatively brief piece meant specifically as a response to Townsend's crass vitriol

by Ben on Apr 18, 2013 4:10 pm • linkreport

C'mon people...if you look past the hyperbole, is this really that much of a surprise? John Townsend is paid to represent the interests of suburban commuters.

by Brooklander on Apr 18, 2013 4:21 pm • linkreport

Well, what do you expect?

David has used GGW to badmouth AAA every chance he gets. He's really stepped it up since last fall when once appointed to the DC Council's Pedestrian Safety Committee, David objected to AAA's being included, dismissing it as a "regional towing company".

Since then, David has repeatedly taken snipes at AAA - on GGW and in the Washington Post Local Opinions section - speaking of AAA in a derisive and dismissive tone, and exhorting readers to cancel their AAA memberships. Since the beginning of this year, it is rare that a week goes by without someone on GGW – either a poster or a commenter - taking a swipe at AAA.

Most egregiously, David has taken to misquoting AAA's positions and even falsely accusing it of taking positions that it fact it has not. For example, recently stating AAA was "against speed limits" and "against fines for red light runners" when AAA in fact only objected to the unreasonably reduced speed limits on 295 and 395 (after the speed cameras were installed) and the excessive traffic camera fines - both of which the Mayor eventually changed.

To be frank, David has brought Townsend's invective upon himself. That doesn’t excuse Townsend who acted boorishly. But there is a limit to the amount of belittling, ridicule, and provocation that one can take. Townsend has apparently reached his limit with GGW.

by ceefer66 on Apr 18, 2013 4:24 pm • linkreport

If the articles don't, the comments usually are extremely disparaging of AAA. So no one should be surprised by this at all. What? We expect people to say, "oh this is fair criticism of us...let's not strike back?"

I agree that it's perfectly normal for the head of a regional non-profit to get into a public, spittle-flecked screaming match with the anonymous commenters on an urbanism forum. Should be great for his future job prospects.

:)

by oboe on Apr 18, 2013 4:26 pm • linkreport

But there is a limit to the amount of belittling, ridicule, and provocation that one can take. Townsend has apparently reached his limit with GGW.

Hopefully his resume is up to date.

by oboe on Apr 18, 2013 4:27 pm • linkreport

@Dave Murphy +1

by John Muller on Apr 18, 2013 4:28 pm • linkreport

@ceefer: well, when regional AAA has the likes of John Townsend and Lon Anderson speaking the way they do, even (and especially) when it's a complete 180 from what National AAA is saying, it's kinda hard NOT to badmouth them...

by Froggie on Apr 18, 2013 4:28 pm • linkreport

ceefer, so you're argument is that we can't fault AAA's spokesperson for being extraordinarily unprofessional? That seems like a pretty low bar to me. If anything it just serves to cement how completely clueless they are.

by Alan B. on Apr 18, 2013 4:29 pm • linkreport

"Since the beginning of this year, it is rare that a week goes by without someone on GGW – either a poster or a commenter - taking a swipe at AAA."

It is rare that a week goes by without a commenter on GGW taking a swipe at GGW, at DA, or at urbanism in general. In fact I daresay its rare that a day goes by without such swipes. GGW has a pretty open comment board, one thats open to people who are diametrically opposed to the opinions of DA and other posters. It can hardly censor those who attack AAA in stronger terms than DA does. Though it does censor personal language.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 18, 2013 4:29 pm • linkreport

Really? You must not have been paying attention to any political discourse of the past several, several years. I mean seriously. What Townsend said, while bad, is more the norm than not nowadays. Whether we think our intentions are good or not, even the smallest number of disparaging remarks will always be remembered.
I expect better than offensive remarks like "retarded" and comparisons to the KKK from someone who is the spokesperson for a major regional chapter of an influential national organization. John Townsend's job is talking to the press - he should know better.

by MLD on Apr 18, 2013 4:30 pm • linkreport

I think Better World is a nice idea but, having been a member in the past, their network of service providers does not even approach AAA's. It is one thing to get services in a city - just about every roadside assistance company is good at that. However, my experience with Better World when I was outside a metropolitan area was abysmal.

So, my $$ goes to AAA but I donate to other causes to offset what AAA is spending and I will make my voice heard as a customer.

No one deserves to be called names for engaging in public discourse the way David does.

by gooch on Apr 18, 2013 4:32 pm • linkreport

AAA's statements say more about them then they do about GGW. It's outrageous to talk that way, but they must sense the tide is turning.

by Thayer-D on Apr 18, 2013 4:37 pm • linkreport

as others have said, the real problem is that a lot of "mainstream" local media take the war on cars rhetoric seriously. WCP putting this on the front page is not so much about AAA, as shaming the other media outlets that lazily accept the war on cars meme.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 18, 2013 4:38 pm • linkreport

This is one of the challenges of online accountability. The authors might not write w/the intention of inflaming wars...but the comments most certainly do.

And this ends up being the response..seen through the eyes of the offended.

AAA has Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts that commenters are free to make contributions to. What those commenters say does not really matter or even reflect the values or policies of the AAA. But words from its Manager of Public Affairs for Washington DC do matter. If he is loose with his words in a public forum such as a newspaper, imagine what he says when no one is recording him, and imagine how this informs his professional policies.

by Scoot on Apr 18, 2013 4:38 pm • linkreport

Note: I am not defending Townsend. I think he's making AAA look bad.

But let's be honest and admit that David isn't blameless, either.

by ceefer66 on Apr 18, 2013 4:39 pm • linkreport

Alpert certainly is not blameless of using rhetoric, hyperbole, melodrama, etc to advance an agenda. But when has Alpert ever resorted to name-calling and character attacks?

by Scoot on Apr 18, 2013 4:46 pm • linkreport

But let's be honest and admit that David isn't blameless, either.

False equivalence - articles published on this blog don't make comparisons to hate groups or call opponents "developmentally retarded."

by MLD on Apr 18, 2013 4:47 pm • linkreport

But let's be honest and admit that David isn't blameless, either.

Seems to me that's the fundamental difference between a GGW contributor and an anonymous commenter? One provides links and quotes; the other just makes assertions and never backs them up. Perhaps you'd care to show your work.

by oboe on Apr 18, 2013 4:56 pm • linkreport

ceefer, you're making up false equivalence where there is none. You will find no such ad-hominem attacks in five years of GGW posts.

You've made it abundantly clear that you disagree with the content the the GGW contributors put forth. Fair enough. But do not let your disagreement with our content blind you into thinking that David or anyone else has ever said anything close to the drivel that Townsend put out in that City Paper interview.

by Cavan on Apr 18, 2013 4:58 pm • linkreport

But let's be honest and admit that David isn't blameless, either.

How so? From my perspective, David actually goes out of his way to avoid precisely the kinds of comments Townsend makes in that article. Of course David approaches this and other issues from a certain point of view--this is, after all, an opinion-based blog. But it would be greatly out of character for him to resort to the kinds of imflammatory and personal attacks that Townsend leveled at him.

by Ben on Apr 18, 2013 5:06 pm • linkreport

The KKK bit went too far.

OTOH there have been a number of GGW articles that recommend people cancel their AAA membership, pointing to cheaper towing alternatives, etc. This cuts into AAA's "air supply," which directly leads to an all out fight. This very article is a part of that; the actual "war" is between Mr. Alpert and Mr. Townsend.

by goldfish on Apr 18, 2013 5:08 pm • linkreport

Of course there's a War On Cars. I can't tell you how many people snarled at me last winter when I wished them "Merry Christmas".

...Oh, wait... wrong fake conservative "war".

by Frank IBC on Apr 18, 2013 5:09 pm • linkreport

...there have been a number of GGW articles that recommend people cancel their AAA membership, pointing to cheaper towing alternatives, etc...

This is like a textbook example of false equivalence. Townsend calls Alpert a "retarded" KKK member. Not exactly the equivalent of Alpert arguing that people shouldn't contribute to the AAA's coffers if they disagree with the AAA's goals.

by oboe on Apr 18, 2013 5:15 pm • linkreport

"OTOH there have been a number of GGW articles that recommend people cancel their AAA membership, pointing to cheaper towing alternatives, etc. This cuts into AAA's "air supply," '

Let X be the number of GGW readers. Let Y be the proportion who own cars. Let Z be the proportion who feel strongly enough to switch road services. Is X times Y times Z really large? I doubt it. And yeah, thats the chance you take when you both run a business and take political stands - whether you are Dominos, ChickFilA, or Google. Sometimes of course its a chance you take even when you DON'T take political stands - see Starbucks.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 18, 2013 5:15 pm • linkreport

DA: "every time a story about bike lanes or speed limit enforcement comes up an arm of AAA says that it's just mor in the war on cars. Maybe our money spent on their services is better spent somewhere else."

T: "DA is retarded and ran away when I got up in his face, what a ninny"

Yeah both positions are totally equivalent.

by Drumz on Apr 18, 2013 5:21 pm • linkreport

@oboe: This is like a textbook example of false equivalence.

I did not claim they were equivalent. They are not.

We are all guests of Mr Alpert's largess here. Remember that. If his fortune were to be undermined, this nice blog, one which I waste way too much time, disappears. Anything that undermines this subsidy is taboo and not discussed.

But why is it acceptable to try to do that to AAA? I think it is underhanded and wrong.

by goldfish on Apr 18, 2013 5:28 pm • linkreport

@goldfish,

Sorry, generally when someone says "OTOH" that's an equivalence. If there's no equivalence, then there's really no point to the original comment. Everyone understands why Townsend is irrationally angry and acting unprofessionally. There's really no need to "explain" it.

by oboe on Apr 18, 2013 5:36 pm • linkreport

But why is it acceptable to try to do that to AAA? I think it is underhanded and wrong.

Again, not equivalent.

GGW is not operating on membership fees. If it were, how on Earth would it not be aboveboard and perfectly correct for someone like Townsend to come on this board and argue that people who are deeply against an urbanist agenda *not* make contributions to the site? That seems to me the most transparent and appropriate thing in the world.

by oboe on Apr 18, 2013 5:41 pm • linkreport

@oboe: There's really no need to "explain" it.

I think people underestimate how threatening Mr Alpert is, in his quiet way, how much an enemy he can be.

by goldfish on Apr 18, 2013 5:42 pm • linkreport

We're moving into odd territory here. The idea that Alpert is "threatening" because he calls out the regional branch of a massive national non-profit for their stated policies--and the head of that organization for his official statements in his official capacity as head of that organization--is frankly a bit bizarre.

Can't wait for the CEO of WalMart to file a restraining order against him for his posts suggesting their DC stores should respect the urban fabric. Silly.

by oboe on Apr 18, 2013 5:46 pm • linkreport

@goldfish - We are all guests of Mr Alpert's largess here. Remember that. If his fortune were to be undermined, this nice blog, one which I waste way too much time, disappears. Anything that undermines this subsidy is taboo and not discussed.

But why is it acceptable to try to do that to AAA? I think it is underhanded and wrong.

Hmm? This is an urbanism policy blog. Its administrator generally wouldn't want people to contribute money to an organization that works against GGW's causes. Extending your argument out, it's not appropriate for an animal rights activist to advocate against Kentucky Fried Chicken if they don't approve of their weird and not exactly animal-friendly practices of shoving thousands of beakless chickens in dirty cages before processing them into honey barbecue wings. If someone believes, say, the NRA is a reckless and damaging institution, are they also acting "underhanded and wrong" if they encourage people to donate money elsewhere? This is a little too hugs-for-all for me.

I thought the City Paper piece was excellent, except for the black and yellow background. Clever, but hard to read!

by worthing on Apr 18, 2013 5:47 pm • linkreport

@oboe: If it were, how on Earth would it not be aboveboard and perfectly correct for someone like Townsend to come on this board

Up against the commenters here, that would probably require more time, and more skill in off-the-cuff arguing than he has. He would just get shouted down, and he knows it.

(I am often in that position, btw, and I sympathize with people that are similarly slow-witted that need to pay a mortgage.)

by goldfish on Apr 18, 2013 5:47 pm • linkreport

I second the comment about the white-on-black text of the City Paper article. Yuck!

by Frank IBC on Apr 18, 2013 5:56 pm • linkreport

Goldfish, it sounds like you resent Alpert because of the wealth that you imagine that he has.

by Frank IBC on Apr 18, 2013 6:01 pm • linkreport

To anyone else who is having trouble reading the City Paper article, open it in print preview. It will show in black-on-white.

by Frank IBC on Apr 18, 2013 6:06 pm • linkreport

I think I was rather clear in my initial comment. That is, regardless of how "tactful" DAL and others are w/their written pieces, the COMMENTS often make disparaging comments about AAA, including Townsend. Yes, we did have a recent post where people advocated (if not the article itself) drop their membership in favor of someone else's favorite.

This is actually an old conversation..one of which I've had here before. We all are perfectly fine castigating (and in some cases wishing death upon CM's) to advance whatever our issue is at the moment. Yes, DAL is quite careful in weeding out the bad actors, the comments usually disparaging those most disagree w/are often ignored. So unfortunately, DAL has to be the fall guy for the nastiness those of us here often employ.

I don't get what's difficult about this concept. But I do know that whenever we (GGW) have been called out publicly, the denials and sense of shock and awe are always there...and according to most of us..ALWAYS unfair. See myopic twits and Tommy Wells.

by HogWash on Apr 18, 2013 6:17 pm • linkreport

I read the entire WCP article, and frankly, neither Anderson nor Alpert come off as particuarly attractive or mature. The former shouldn't used terms like "retarded" or "Klan," and the latter's (later deleted) tweets against the Examiner are also incendiary. Why is so hard to have policy disputes without name-calling? If you were both 13-year-olds, I'd lock you in a room until you made up.

by Socket on Apr 18, 2013 6:20 pm • linkreport

It also doesn't matter that we might feel as if the things we say here are different than the statements made by Townsend. We aren't the offended party and as I've often said here, we're never offended until...well...we're actually offended.

In fact, the entire heat against Anita Bonds is another such example. Has she said anything negative about this group or any other? Of course not. Yet, we painted her guilty by association and make remarks similar to those most here made against Gray..or anybody who's most of their lives here in DC.

by HogWash on Apr 18, 2013 6:20 pm • linkreport

As an example of how we all can go off the reservation, in response to The Examiner closing shop, DAL tweeted calling it, "a bile-spewing, hateful rag that waged war against us."

He deleted the tweet but the invective was already out there. If your response/defense of that is, "well it's true" then you should easily understand the logic of those who might agree w/some of the things Townsend said.

by HogWash on Apr 18, 2013 6:26 pm • linkreport

"Up against the commenters here"

I'm glad that we require a bit more thought than calling each retarded in order to have a conversation here.

by Drumz on Apr 18, 2013 6:53 pm • linkreport

"ceefer, you're making up false equivalence where there is none"
-----

Not so at all.

I'm merely pointing out that David isn't blameless.

No, he hasn't indulged in name-calling like Townsend, but he has made a crusade of bad-mouthing and belittling AAA, he has exaggerated and misstated AAA's position on the issues, and he has asked readers to cancel their AAA memberships.

Those are the facts. And shooting the messenger with a barrage of "false equivalency" canards won't make them any less so.

by ceefer66 on Apr 18, 2013 6:55 pm • linkreport

People call out businesses & groups for their policies/positions all the time. They're entitled to their opinion, expressed publicly or privately. Of course, the target of that opinion has the right to respond. How they choose to do that, though, HAS to be thought through, PARTICULARLY if you're a paid spokesperson. Commentors and individuals can't be "fired" for holding a personal opinion, afterall. Sure, businesses that I express a negative opinion about are *entitled* to call me names, but that's likely to do more harm thaan good. I'm just one little person, David and the GGW community are just one group...the AAA is an organization with a nation-wide - and even international - membership and money riding on not alienating their customers. If my absolute favorite business in the world used language like this against a ditractor, I'd have to think long and hard about giving them any more of my business, particularly if they embraced or at least didn't promptly distance themselves from the rhetoric. People are only calling for Townsend's head because what he said was an inappropriate overreaction to criticism. If AAA chooses to keep him on, that's their choice. But they might want to consider how a neutral party would view this ad hominem attack. Personally, I'll be forwarding these comments to my family, who are lifelong AAA members, but have a loved one they know bikes, walks, and would like to be safe doing so.

by Ms. D on Apr 18, 2013 7:05 pm • linkreport

Ceefer,

You're comment basically just explained what a false equivalency is.

One person says one thing and one guy says something way worse yet we must treat both the same.

by Drumz on Apr 18, 2013 7:14 pm • linkreport

"That is, regardless of how "tactful" DAL and others are w/their written pieces, the COMMENTS often make disparaging comments about AAA, including Townsend"

comments here are often disparaging about GGW, about "urbanists" and about DAL. So. They no more represent him then do over the top comments in the other direction.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 18, 2013 7:25 pm • linkreport

I mean all he had to say was "I think Mr. Alpert consistently misrepresents what AAA stands for and the ways we advocate for all users if the roads in the Washington area"

I still would have disagreed with him but at least then we could talk about whether its fair to criticize or not.

by Drumz on Apr 18, 2013 7:31 pm • linkreport

Don't blame the victim here.

AAA's representative made statements that are wholly inappropriate for public discourse. They should apologize.

by Gavin on Apr 18, 2013 7:36 pm • linkreport

AAA is the NRA of mobility. With money and influence, too.

Transit advocates - be vigilant.

by Ralph Bennett on Apr 18, 2013 8:03 pm • linkreport

This is the dirty reality of hardball politicking and as we all know, it ain't fair. We always think we are the appropriate judge for what somebody else think is fair. I don't know the guy but knowing the negative reaction (sometimes quite unfair) to this community of folk, I can imagine his comments about DAL were also influenced by the personally disparaging things often said here...which we now know he reads.

Anita Bonds? Did anyone know who she was before being appointed to her seat? Does she not have a reason to believe this blog is extremely hostile to her...considering the very negative things said about her? Of course she does. Do you all care? Yes but only kinda sorta roundabout way...to the point where you don't want anyone to believe you could possibly be unjust.

FWIW, I really did laugh at DAL's tweet though and don't think he's some evil cult leader for saying it. It made me think he was more Tom Branson than Mr. Carson. Get 'em D.

*fist bump*

by HogWash on Apr 18, 2013 9:18 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Patrick on Apr 18, 2013 9:31 pm • linkreport

If you don't buy a product from a company whose goals you disagree with, you are WORSE THAN HITLER.

I concur with Townsend's comment

Honestly, Townsend likes to dish it out, but he can't take it, as evidenced by the fact that even mild criticism of his organization turns him into a foul-mouthed ranter, rather than the professional spokesperson he claims to be.

by Tyro on Apr 18, 2013 9:55 pm • linkreport

Does she not have a reason to believe this blog is extremely hostile to her...considering the very negative things said about her?

I have no idea what things you're talking about.

by David C on Apr 18, 2013 10:00 pm • linkreport

HogWash, plenty of people, myself include, knew who Anita Bonds was prior to her appointment to the Council. We knew about her long involvement in DC politics working for campaigns and in mayoral administrations. We knew about her poor, undemocratic stewardship of the DCDSC.

by Birdie on Apr 18, 2013 10:55 pm • linkreport

I think people underestimate how threatening Mr Alpert is, in his quiet way, how much an enemy he can be.

I've got an mental image that's going to make me snicker all day of David saying to Michael Perkins:

"No, no, no, not this time, Consigliari. No more meetin's, no more discussions, no more tricks. You give them a message - I want Townsend - if not it's all out war we go to the mattresses."

by dcd on Apr 19, 2013 5:14 am • linkreport

What I found cheap and amateurish about the article was pretending that this Townsend dude speaks for all DC drivers.

Or that concerns about driving in DC were limited to half a dozen wealthy upper NW residents.

Townsend is clearly over the top and unnecessarily abrasive and insulting. It's surprising that AAA keeps him on board.

But the article can't really be taken seriously if the author is pretending that concerns of DC drivers are limited to Townsend and half a dozen busybodies in upper NW.

When I first read GGW's response to this I thought it was a parody.

It did little to blunt criticism that GGW is seen as being thin-skinned when someone criticizes the GGW mindset.

If attacked unprofessionally by someone using Townsend's rhetoric you put out a generic statement saying that it's unfortunate and that you hope to in the future have a more substantive dialog.

The adults in the room see that as damning enough.

You don't double down by going on and on about your hurt feelings, then add fuel to the fire by posting a link to AAA's competition.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 8:09 am • linkreport

Birdie:

Could you tell me a little about Bonds? I know almost nothing about her other than her unfortunate views on how a little racism in voting is cool.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 8:16 am • linkreport

I stopped using AAA when they fought against higher mileage requirements years ago. As others have noted here, you can get the same service from Better World Club.

They pretend to represent drivers' interests, but they sure weren't representing mine.

by DE on Apr 19, 2013 8:37 am • linkreport

" then add fuel to the fire by posting a link to AAA's competition."

Really? If this were a site about gay politics, and someone said, but er, their chicken sandwiches are so good, it would be wrong to point out where else you can get good chicken sandwiches?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 8:41 am • linkreport

"But the article can't really be taken seriously if the author is pretending that concerns of DC drivers are limited to Townsend and half a dozen busybodies in upper NW."

If everyone on this site, or at least everyone who sympathizes with DAL's positions, is hostile to DC drivers, why exactly is posting a link to a AAA competitor a threat? Do all those carfree hipsters join towing services, in case they need their bikes towed? Who do you imagine is interested in Better World Club, here, if not people in this region who drive?

Guess what. Im a driver. I sometimes drive into DC. Im not at all threatened by DAL or GGW.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 8:44 am • linkreport

@Hillman

"What I found cheap and amateurish about the article was pretending that this Townsend dude speaks for all DC drivers. ...If attacked unprofessionally by someone using Townsend's rhetoric you put out a generic statement saying that it's unfortunate and that you hope to in the future have a more substantive dialog.

The adults in the room see that as damning enough.

You don't double down by going on and on about your hurt feelings, then add fuel to the fire by posting a link to AAA's competition."
-------

Amen!

by ceefer66 on Apr 19, 2013 8:49 am • linkreport

Walker:

I'm just saying that the GGW official response does nothing to dispel the increasingly commonly-held view that GGW and the transit community in general can be thin-skinned.

It may make the faithful feel good, but it does little to reach out to anyone beyond the faithful, and it is going to alienate a good many people.

It's sortof the 'I know you are, but what am I' playground response, but drug into the adult arena, with more serious consequences.

It's sortof like the GGW contributer listed below the article who describes himself as "A life long cyclist/non-driver".

Really? Is that 'non-driver' thing really necessary?

Just adds fuel to the fire.

Appearances matter.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 8:57 am • linkreport

Goldfish, it sounds like you resent Alpert because of the wealth that you imagine that he has.

Somewhat off-topic, but last night I dreamt I attended the annual GGW Meetup which was held at Alpert's house. It made the Hearst Castle look like a McMansion. Got to lay off the green olive and anchovy pizza before bed.

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 9:03 am • linkreport

Do people understand what "doubling down" means?

What exactly are GGW writers "doubling down" on here? Criticizing policy they don't agree with? Scary!

by MLD on Apr 19, 2013 9:05 am • linkreport

I come back from vacation to real bombs in Boston, verbal bomb throwing in DC, and exploding fertilizer in Texas. So, nothing happened while I was gone

by SJE on Apr 19, 2013 9:10 am • linkreport

I don't get what's difficult about this concept. But I do know that whenever we (GGW) have been called out publicly, the denials and sense of shock and awe are always there...and according to most of us..ALWAYS unfair. See myopic twits and Tommy Wells.

It's funny, but this misguided line of argument has parallels in the debate about cyclist behavior. "Hey anonymous commenters on a public Internet forum! You need to all behave up to the standards of a paid spokesman for a nationally known non-profit! Otherwise any personal attacks by such a spokesman on David Alpert are perfectly kosher."

Same foolish argument that says the head of WABA should cease all activism until he reins in every last member of the scofflaw hordes he so clearly controls.

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 9:10 am • linkreport

"It's sortof like the GGW contributer listed below the article who describes himself as "A life long cyclist/non-driver"."

I dont think DAL is writing people's bios. I dont see why pointing out ones own being a non-driver needs be threatening to drivers. We are a coalition - a few of us are non drivers - some of us are drivers but not car owners - and many of us are car owners who believe in the goals of urbanism. Again, if someone said they are a non-cyclist, or non transit users, or non city dweller, thats not in the same class as calling people ninnies, or calling this like the KKK - esp in a city divided by race, in which some people have suggested things like bike lanes are "stuff white people like"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 9:10 am • linkreport

the increasingly commonly-held view that GGW and the transit community in general can be thin-skinned

All people have to do is stop calling each other retarded, or twits, or make arguments that boil down to "No you!"

You know, act like adults.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 9:18 am • linkreport

It's sortof like the GGW contributer listed below the article who describes himself as "A life long cyclist/non-driver".

Really? Is that 'non-driver' thing really necessary?

Just adds fuel to the fire.

Seems like you are just searching for reasons to be offended. Asking that people suppress any mention of "out of the norm" behavior only serves to solidify the status quo as the norm - in this case the idea that "everyone drives."

by MLD on Apr 19, 2013 9:19 am • linkreport

Personally, I would look at this as a badge of honor. Congratulations David and everyone at GGW.

by Geof Gee on Apr 19, 2013 9:21 am • linkreport

Walker:

I'll never forget attending a City Council subcommittee hearing years ago, to hear about more restrictive residential parking requirements, back when debates about ball park area parking were going on.

The term 'non-driver' was the term of the day, and the derision and contempt that it implied was palpable.

The take-away? Anyone that needs a car is inherently a selfish and horrible person, and transit users are morally superior to drivers.

In fact, several speakers actually said that.

Shockingly Jim Graham actually corrected several people after they said that, but the sentiment kept coming up.

I'm not suggesting all GGW commenters believe that. But that sort of feeling certainly does creep through from time to time.

And the cause of better transit in the future suffers because of it.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 9:21 am • linkreport

@Hillman, Bonds has been active in DC politics for decades now, going back to when she helped Marion Barry win his first elected position, DC Scool Board, in 2971. She served int he Barry, Pratt Kelly, and Williams administrations in various roles. She was Harold Brazil's mayoral campaign manager, but I'm under the impression that resulted in some fractured relationships on both sides. She's worked with various DC pols in lots of different positions in the past 35 years.

Bonds was elected chair of the DC Democratic State Committee in 2006. And that's where my serious misgivings with her begin. The DCDSC has been exceptionally mismanaged under Bonds' leadership, imo. Elections to select new leadership have not been held and the DCDSC has not been forthcoming as to why these elections have been repeatedly delayed. Under Bonds' leadership, the DCDSC changed how delegates are elected to the national convention, going to an all day caucus format. Folks on the DCDSC say Bonds makes decisions and the rest of the DCDSC are expected to fall into line. And the optics of the head of the DCDSC deciding to run for the council at-large vancany appointment, an appointment made by the DCDSC, isn't good. (Tied into the failure to hold elections for new leadership, and it looks really bad)

by Birdie on Apr 19, 2013 9:24 am • linkreport

And the cause of better transit in the future suffers because of it.

If the city is really being held back from having better transit because people's feelings are hurt then I feel we have more work to do than I thought.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 9:31 am • linkreport

Birdie:

Thank you. Much appreciated.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 9:33 am • linkreport

Drumz:

Never underestimate the power of people feeling dissed.

As witnessed, sadly, by GGW's response to this Thompson dude.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 9:38 am • linkreport

What exactly are GGW writers "doubling down" on here? Criticizing policy they don't agree with? Scary!

I think the takeaway here is that advocates who want to change the way the existing powerful interests do business should always sacrifice that advocacy in the interests of comity. There's no point in protecting the environment, fighting 3rd world AIDS, or reversing decades-long pro-sprawl policies if someone somewhere gets their feelings hurt. Is that really the kind of world you want to live in?

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 9:38 am • linkreport

Hillman,

If you're trying to find some sort of first offense of "who" offended "who" first then we can be here all day trying to figure that out.

Or, we can point out when someone obviously takes it way to far and use that as a sign that maybe people should stop giving credence to those who profit off of the "war on cars" meme.

This is transportation we're talking about. It's a boring subject. Let's keep it that way.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 9:41 am • linkreport

Seems like you are just searching for reasons to be offended. Asking that people suppress any mention of "out of the norm" behavior only serves to solidify the status quo as the norm - in this case the idea that "everyone drives."

Gay people! Back in the closet! Stop rubbing our faces in your sexuality, let us assume everyone is straight, and maybe you'll get your equal rights!

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 9:44 am • linkreport

Really? Is that 'non-driver' thing really necessary?

Just adds fuel to the fire.

As others have said, if lack of progress on infrastructure issues comes because people are offended when someone posting on traffic and transit issues says they're a "cyclist and non-driver", what that points to is a spiritually broken and corrupt local culture that has a lot more problems in it than a young blogger and activist like David Alpert.

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 9:44 am • linkreport

Hillman, having contributed to this post (but not being able to sign on because of timing issue) I'm curious as to which parts you found to show that GGW was "thin skinned"? And where do you feel the post is talking about "hurt feelings"? Where do we fall into "I know you are, but what am I" style responses? Which lines in particular do you disagree with? Constructive criticism could help us to write better in the future.

One place where you've been specific is about posting a link to AAA's competitor. How exactly does that add fuel to the fire? There's nothing inflammatory about noting - and supporting - a competitor that holds values more in line with ours is there? If people disagree with AAA isn't the place to hit them in their pocket book, instead of with personal insults?

by David C on Apr 19, 2013 9:47 am • linkreport

hilman

you can I suppose, hold DAL responsible for everything ever muttered by any advocate for changes in transportation, etc. DAL, I suppose, could have held AAA responsible for everything ever muttered by anyone on the other side - including Wendell Cox, the Tea parties who rant about "agenda 21" etc. However I note that he did not. He held Mr Thompson responsible only for those things actually said by Mr Thompson. Not by commenters on AAA's sites, not by Mr Thompsons supporters or allies, or whatever.

That is the context here. That is what is being discussed.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 9:48 am • linkreport

Also the non-driver thing comes about because people still insist that everyone in DC drives (or if they don't its because they live in some other neighborhood). So it helps to point out sometimes that yes, it's not crazy to assume that someone on your block doesn't own a car.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 9:50 am • linkreport

also Im confused by the implication that every transit user is a non-driver. I am a daily transit user, AND a car owner. Of course here in the suburbs many regular transit users drive to the metro (which in fact owns large garages), though I usually do not. I'm told this happens in DC as well, and is one of the concerns in the RPP program.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 9:52 am • linkreport

Please COMPLAIN to AAA. Mr. Townsend's comments are reprehensible. As a person-of-color, I have notified AAA that I will NOT maintain my relationship with AAA until Mr. Townsend apologizes and is fired.

by Supporter on Apr 19, 2013 9:52 am • linkreport

You don't double down by going on and on about your hurt feelings, then add fuel to the fire by posting a link to AAA's competition."

And Amen again.

@Birdie, thanks and I offer that you just might be one of the few of us with such an understanding about Bonds. I only know what people have said..whether they were true, exaggerated truths or not. What you've posted about her DCDSC time in office seems out of sync with the vitriol against her.

Same foolish argument that says the head of WABA should cease all activism until he reins in every last member of the scofflaw hordes he so clearly controls.

You call it foolish, the rest of us realize it's reality. The comment section of any blog is always a reflection of the person who owns it...fair or not. The issue is that since we are anonymous, we (well you all) feel as if it's entirely unfair and ridiculous to assign blame to DAL because of the many negative, disparaging things we here often say and are never offended by it at all. See mopic twit urban legend.

Face it, this is no different than the effort to "let your CM's know how pissed you are" when Tommy Wells ran to this site, complained, then essentially encouraged people here to do just that. When the meme began to develop that GGW stans for Wells at any cost, we began to reject that and considered it unfair.

Getting all contributors to sign on to an effort to speak out against AAA while these same people cosigned all the negativity about AAA oozing from the same site...even to the point of urging people to switch to another company.

Maybe DAL will get his apology. But I think he should chalk it up to living the reality of playing hardball. Some people aren't as turn-the-other-cheek'ish as we think they should be.

by HogWash on Apr 19, 2013 9:52 am • linkreport

"The comment section of any blog is always a reflection of the person who owns it...fair or not. "

so your comments are a reflection of DAL? He is responsible for everything YOU have said here?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 9:54 am • linkreport

As a person-of-color.<

And this what to do w/the cost of Tea at Walgreens?

by HogWash on Apr 19, 2013 9:54 am • linkreport

"So it helps to point out sometimes that yes, it's not crazy to assume that someone on your block doesn't own a car."

IOW "we here, we're carfree, deal with it"

or something like that?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 9:56 am • linkreport

"we're here"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 9:56 am • linkreport

"we here, we're carfree, yes we really do exist, no that doesn't mean we are trying to 'ban' cars, no I don't really care if you think I'm destroying the city, yes I have a job, no I probably won't move to the suburbs once I have a kid, deal with it"

That's more like it.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 9:58 am • linkreport

You call it foolish, the rest of us realize it's reality. The comment section of any blog is always a reflection of the person who owns it...fair or not.

Utter nonsense.

There's a tiny sliver of people out there who believe this is the case, and almost all of the "believe" it in the sense that they're trying to score political points.

Ever looked at the Washington Post comments section? Nutjobs on the far-right, and on the far-left. Which of these groups is "always a reflection of" Katharine Weymouth?

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 10:00 am • linkreport

Note, I'm not actually car-free. Well, I am personally, but my wife needs (hopefully for only a little longer) to drive to her work. Though buying only one car meant that I could afford a nicer one rather buying two.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 10:00 am • linkreport

Not to mention that the comments here are actively moderated (and the rules are clearly explained and updated from time to time) to weed out outright attacks.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 10:03 am • linkreport

Lots of responses.

First, Oboe.

Giving gay people equal rights doesn't take away rights from straights.

If anything, it gives us all a country we can be more proud of.

Others, Generally.....

I don't hold GGW responsible for their blog commenters. I encourage a free and open discourse.

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

It was the tone of the actual formal GGW article or posting or whatever you want to call it.

The one we are all responding to.

The entire tone of that was damn near parody.

I think the youts these days call it butt-hurt.

Sortof reminded me of the Seinfeld episodes featuring lawyer Jackie Chiles

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpcEietIoxk

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 10:08 am • linkreport

Giving gay people equal rights doesn't take away rights from straights.

Not the point. Just as identifying oneself as "car-free" is an unnecessary provocation towards AAA spokespersons, identifying oneself as gay is an unnecessary provocation towards mainstream America. No point in waving a red flag at the bull--back in the closet if you want rights.

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 10:13 am • linkreport

"Giving gay people equal rights doesn't take away rights from straights."

You believe that. I believe that. Clearly some people do not believe it.

I don't believe that the policies advocated by GGW take away rights from drivers. And yes, I'm a driver. I own a car. I buy gasoline. I park in DC.

Letting a developer build apts near a metro stop without a garage, does not violate my rights as a driver. Striping a bike lanes does not violate my rights as a driver.

Deal with it.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 10:16 am • linkreport

Oboe:

Not a good analogy.

The better analogy would be self identifying as straight in a condescending and critical way that is done so often and in such ways that a reasonable person could assume that you felt being straight was morally superior to being gay.

It's the contempt that the term 'non driver' is often (but admittedly not always) used with that makes it part of the problem.

And it's totally unnecessary. "Lifelong cyclist" gets the point across just fine.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 10:19 am • linkreport

"I think the youts these days call it butt-hurt."

The more obnoxious of them. I reread the posting, and its calm and reasoned.

There are people, in every issue, and every forum, who make it a point of saying things that are crude and insulting. Then when someone calls them on their behavior, they say that those who do so are "butt hurt" crybabies.

The youths today, call such people "trolls". When this happens in real life, such people are generally called "bullies".

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 10:20 am • linkreport

"The better analogy would be self identifying as straight in a condescending and critical way that is done so often and in such ways that a reasonable person could assume that you felt being straight was morally superior to being gay."

Yes, because clearly being a non-driver is the norm in our society, and drivers are a small and persecuted minority. WTF?

"And it's totally unnecessary. "Lifelong cyclist" gets the point across just fine."

There are lifelong cyclists who never use their bikes for transportation, who put their bikes on the rack of their SUV to take them out to a trail where they can practice for a race. So I don't think it really gets across the point.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 10:23 am • linkreport

And it's totally unnecessary. "Lifelong cyclist" gets the point across just fine.

Except, lots of cyclists have cars. And its apparently necessary when people drone on in columns and blogs about how driving is a necessity in DC and they can't believe that there are people in the city who live without a car, what nerve.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 10:25 am • linkreport

It was the tone of the actual formal GGW article or posting or whatever you want to call it.

Ah, the bedeviling "general tone." Not the words or the sentences, but the tone. I don't mean this to sound critical, but perhaps you should read it rather than sing it?

If I were less persuaded by the "tone" being the problem, I might think you didn't have an actual reason for saying the post was "thin skinned" and that you were just projecting.

by David C on Apr 19, 2013 10:29 am • linkreport

"I don't believe that the policies advocated by GGW take away rights from drivers."

Depends on which policies.

The unexamined and uncritical use of red light and speed cameras do in fact take a lot from drivers, particularly when they do things like shorten yellow lights, artificially set the limits lower only in the speedcam area, are put in idiotic locations like 295, etc.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 10:38 am • linkreport

"I don't mean this to sound critical, but perhaps you should read it rather than sing it?"

I have no idea what that means.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 10:40 am • linkreport

"And its apparently necessary when people drone on in columns and blogs about how driving is a necessity in DC and they can't believe that there are people in the city who live without a car, what nerve."

I have rarely seen such a sentiment expressed, particularly without caveat.

More often I see the idea that it's great that some can get by without a car, but that not everyone can, and those that can't are getting tired of being belittled and talked down to by those that can.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 10:43 am • linkreport

The unexamined and uncritical use of red light and speed cameras

Of course, the huge number of articles and comments that examine and discuss traffic cameras would probably dispute this claim.

Meanwhile driving isn't a right. That's where the analogy falls off.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 10:43 am • linkreport

"Of course, the huge number of articles and comments that examine and discuss traffic cameras would probably dispute this claim."

Quite the contrary.

The legitimate concerns drivers expressed about poor placement and implementation of speed cameras, etc., were by and large dismissed by GGW and transit advocates.

And still are.

Of course, it's worth noting that some on the other side had equally stupid postings on this topic, with some claiming that any use of camera technology was somehow bad.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 10:46 am • linkreport

"Meanwhile driving isn't a right. That's where the analogy falls off."

Is cycling a right? Is walking? Is mass transit?

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 10:47 am • linkreport

so your comments are a reflection of DAL? He is responsible for everything YOU have said here?

Sure they are. Surprised you don't think people will look at what I said and assign some sort of negative label to what goes on in here. Wasn't there a recent article by some media outlet specifically naming a couple of folks +me as evidence for whatever point the author intended to make? Confirming whatever motivation he/she had in writing it? Or did I dream that? Even in that instance, the criticism of me was actually incorrect.

There are people, in every issue, and every forum, who make it a point of saying things that are crude and insulting.

Sure, most often against me. And even I know how to take it to the chin and keep it moving.

by HogWash on Apr 19, 2013 10:50 am • linkreport

I'd argue the freedom of movement is. So I'd say that walking and transit (closely followed by cycling since it's low impact and not nearly as dangerous as a car) should be protected.

But anyway, the whole "driving is not a right" is to counter when people argue that ensuring that drivers take a little more responsibility or that our streets are designed so that they are safer for everyone is an assault on a right to drive isn't true.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 10:50 am • linkreport

The legitimate concerns drivers expressed about poor placement and implementation of speed cameras, etc., were by and large dismissed by GGW and transit advocates.

And it usually boils down to, those people from PGC shouldn't be speeding in the first place.

by HogWash on Apr 19, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

The unexamined and uncritical use of red light and speed cameras do in fact take a lot from drivers, particularly when they do things like shorten yellow lights, artificially set the limits lower only in the speedcam area, are put in idiotic locations like 295, etc.

Now we're entering the realm of paranoid conspiracies. There's no evidence whatsoever that "they" do things like shorten yellow lights, or artificially lower speed limits. Though it's a common enough refrain among the anti-enforcement crowd.

As far as "idiotic locations" that's really a judgement call, isn't it. I've head people make the same argument about speed cameras on the SE/SW freeway. The posted limit of 40 mph is absolutely appropriate there, given the number of naked merges, accidents etc...

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

To follow up:

So it gets deliberately confused between a right to drive and the expectation that government has the ability and obligation to regulate the behavior of driving to ensure safety on the public right of way.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 10:53 am • linkreport

"There are people, in every issue, and every forum, who make it a point of saying things that are crude and insulting."

Sure, most often against me. And even I know how to take it to the chin and keep it moving.

Is this not an example of topping from the bottom?

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 10:54 am • linkreport

or that our streets are designed so that they are safer for everyone is an assault on a right to drive isn't true.

Which is usually expressed with disdain similar to, those people driving those things which don't belong on our streets.

by HogWash on Apr 19, 2013 10:55 am • linkreport

And it usually boils down to, those people from PGC shouldn't be speeding in the first place.

But really that's just because those people from PGC shouldn't be speeding in the first place.

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 10:56 am • linkreport

Hillman wrote,
"And its apparently necessary when people drone on in columns and blogs about how driving is a necessity in DC and they can't believe that there are people in the city who live without a car, what nerve."

I have rarely seen such a sentiment expressed, particularly without caveat.

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/16569/harriet-tregoning-is-pro-choice-on-transportation/
"35% of DC households have no vehicle," Tregoning said. "Who are these people?" one woman shouted out.

by David Alpert on Apr 19, 2013 10:58 am • linkreport

@HogWash, I'm guessing it means that @Supporter, being a person of color, is worried that casually comparing people to the Ku Klux Klan for having strong opinions creates a risk of misleading people into thinking the KKK isn't a dangerous, violent, terrorist organization that's inimical to American values. Sort of like how "socialism" has actually improved in public opinion surveys since Obama took office -- a lot of young people for whom the Soviet Union is ancient history look at what Obama is doing, find it reasonable, hear it called socialism, and so decide that socialism must be reasonable.

by cminus on Apr 19, 2013 11:04 am • linkreport

Which is usually expressed with disdain similar to, those people driving those things which don't belong on our streets.

No, my disdain comes from the fact that even in the face of overwhelming evidence that we have a public safety crisis on our hands because of the way people drive, the way our streets are designed, and the apathy to outright denial for many local governments/police departments to actually do anything about it that its still treated as an assault on American values and basic decency to suggest that maybe people should slow down and take some responsibility if they hit someone.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

I know many people in DC without cars. It strikes me as funny that people find it so unbelievable. Assuming your commute is not impossible on transit what do you actually truly need it for? I can carry 10 lbs of a groceries for 5 blocks. Just about anywhere in the city you can get to by walking/biking/transit. There are zipcars/car2go/uhaul if you need a one off trip. Obviously its a choice. I can't easily get to most parts of Fairfax or anything but honestly I've never found it to be an issue that I really needed to get out there.

by Alan B. on Apr 19, 2013 11:06 am • linkreport

Motor vehicle incident deaths are the largest accidental cause of death of American between the ages of 5-24 and the largest overall for Americans of all ages. Almost 2% of Americans die from traffic accidents. It is the most common non-health cause of death. I find it interesting that people brush that off so casually. Does anyone not know multiple people that have died in car crashes of some kind?

by Alan B. on Apr 19, 2013 11:12 am • linkreport

its still treated as an assault on American values and basic decency to suggest that maybe people should slow down and take some responsibility if they hit someone.

But that's not how it's often framed. Rather like this, "we should eliminate as much of those things (cars) as we can so that people can use the other modes we prefer..and for those who do (see Heritage article) heaven help them."

"35% of DC households have no vehicle," Tregoning said. "Who are these people?" one woman shouted out.

This is response to Hill's assertion that he's rarely seen such a sentiment? He did say rare instead of, "not at all." So I'm not sure how this one example disproves anything he said.

It strikes me as funny that people find it so unbelievable

I agree because I've never owned one. But I guess the logic is applicable to the way in which people (many w/in this community) seem to not believe that there are those who want to drive and not use transit...just because they don't want to. It's similar logic.

by HogWash on Apr 19, 2013 11:16 am • linkreport

Almost 2% of Americans die from traffic accidents.

Of that %, how many involved driver hits pedestrian/cyclist? Just wondering....

Does anyone not know multiple people that have died in car crashes of some kind?

*raises hand* I don't know of one.

by HogWash on Apr 19, 2013 11:18 am • linkreport

This is only semi-related: I'm curious, does anyone have a word/phrase for the phenomenon where a privileged/dominant class develops an acute victim mentality. Surely this has been studied before.

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport

Of that %, how many involved driver hits pedestrian/cyclist? Just wondering...

I'm not sure it matters so much. It shows that driving is intrinsically dangerous and most don't really consider the risks.

But that's not how it's often framed. Rather like this, "we should eliminate as much of those things (cars) as we can so that people can use the other modes we prefer..and for those who do (see Heritage article) heaven help them."

That's how it's framed by people who want to paint people pushing for various improvements as anti-car. So its still wrong.

And Hillman was wondering why people feel like they need to label themself as car-free. The reason why is because people try to say that car-free people don't exist and therefore we should do X.

And if one is intent on driving somewhere and not using transit that's fine. No one has ever suggested banning cars wholesale (as opposed to closing a street or two). The argument is over how much should be subsidized for the driver vs. other modes. So drive to your meeting downtown if you want but don't act as if having to pay for parking/drive slowly/yield to bikes and pedestrians/get out the way of buses and streetcars is an assault on your rights.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 11:25 am • linkreport

All I know is that, when this is done, I want someone to make a bar graph showing number of comments/words posted here per commenter.

Also, if someone can develop an algorithm that quantifies circular arguments, that would be boffo as well.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Apr 19, 2013 11:25 am • linkreport

You make a fair point with...

"35% of DC households have no vehicle," Tregoning said. "Who are these people?" one woman shouted out.

This is response to Hill's assertion that he's rarely seen such a sentiment? He did say rare instead of, "not at all." So I'm not sure how this one example disproves anything he said.

...but seconds earlier you wrote...

"its still treated as an assault on American values and basic decency to suggest that maybe people should slow down and take some responsibility if they hit someone."

But that's not how it's often framed. Rather like this, "we should eliminate as much of those things (cars) as we can so that people can use the other modes we prefer..and for those who do (see Heritage article) heaven help them."

Sheesh, at least David included a real quote with his single anecdote. You had to make yours up.

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 11:29 am • linkreport

No one cares if people own cars I think. Or very few. What they care about is the fact that cars are the cause of most congestion that makes bus transit less viable during rush hour for example. They care about people getting hurt or killed by self-entitled drivers who dont think it's their responsbility not to hit someone. They care about 50 years of urban planning that has priveleged new highways over all other forms of transit despite the fact that many people are looking for alternatives or just can't even afford to own and maintain a car or don't want to. I don't care that someone people want to drive but being a driver doesn't mean that all your needs should be catered to first over everyone elses especially when there is a clear lack of efficiency of doing so in places like a major city. If you want to live out in the country somewhere thats fine, but preference to drive does not rise to the level of a right to drive wherever and however people want.

by Alan B. on Apr 19, 2013 11:36 am • linkreport

"The unexamined and uncritical use of red light and speed cameras do in fact take a lot from drivers, particularly when they do things like shorten yellow lights, artificially set the limits lower only in the speedcam area, are put in idiotic locations like 295, etc."

We can dispute the benefits and costs of particular policies, but it seems odd to say that a misplaced speedcam is a "violation of rights"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 11:51 am • linkreport

"There are people, in every issue, and every forum, who make it a point of saying things that are crude and insulting.

Sure, most often against me. And even I know how to take it to the chin and keep it moving.

There are people insulting you on EVERY forum. Wow.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 11:53 am • linkreport

Is cycling a right? Is walking? Is mass transit?

Walking is a right. Its a natural physiological function. We have skeletons and muscles whose only purpose is this: to move the body. A human develops the ability to walk around the same time as the ability of speech is developed. Yes, walking is a right, in the same way breathing, drinking water, eating and eliminating waste are rights. Walking is a basic physiological function born into us for the purpose of mobility. Human health and development depend on walking.

by Tina on Apr 19, 2013 11:54 am • linkreport

"More often I see the idea that it's great that some can get by without a car, but that not everyone can, and those that can't are getting tired of being belittled and talked down to by those that can."

I have a car. I do not think I can recall being belittled or talked down to for that.

Of course it may be different among residents of the hill - I think people may think car free living is easier there than in Fairfax. I would like to point out - while much of the current discussion is about DC policy, this blog is about the whole region, and many commenters here live in the suburbs. You may want to take that into account in considering how odd your complaint about drivers feeling persecuted sounds.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 11:57 am • linkreport

" If you want to live out in the country somewhere thats fine, but preference to drive does not rise to the level of a right to drive wherever and however people want."

I don't know of anyone making that argument.

But worth noting for many it's not a preference to drive.

It's a fundamental fact of their life.

Like it or not our transit in DC ain't what it could be.

I'm not going to be the one to tell the mother of three in Anacostia that she should walk home with her family groceries, a mile through often dangerous neighborhoods.

That's not a casual preference for driving.

Transit simply does not meet everyone's needs.

I wish it would.

And I fully support a ton more subsidy of transit to make it so (or at least as close as we can reasonably expect).

But until that happens the solution isn't to say that driving is some sort of casual preference all of the time.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 11:59 am • linkreport

Walker, you raise a valid point about suburb vs city, in terms of comments people make about the terribleness of people owning cars.

But it all depends on neighborhood, and individual personal needs.

Sure, some people choose to drive out of convenience.

But your example is good.

The Hill has pretty good transit.

But you can still live on the Hill and be uncomfortably far from a metro stop.

Or in an area where that ten block walk is dangerous.

And your trek to the grocery store isn't really transit friendly. And too far to walk if you are shopping for a family.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 12:03 pm • linkreport

David, that's one example at a public hearing, which in DC is often more entertaining that going to the circus.

Not really a tidal wave of people doubting that living car-free is a viable option for some.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 12:05 pm • linkreport

The unexamined and uncritical use of red light and speed cameras

If you've ever read GGW, you see that there is a very vibrant and active discussion and criticism of red light and speed cameras and their appropriate use and placement.

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

Flippant observation: we've somehow gotten to 159 comments without any reference to perhaps the greatest quote ever uttered about riding the Metro. "A guy can pull his johnson out and set it on a woman's booty." Mr. Townsend is the best spokesman in the history of spokes.

by worthing on Apr 19, 2013 12:07 pm • linkreport

Of course it may be different among residents of the hill - I think people may think car free living is easier there than in Fairfax.

I can assure you no one on the Hill is talked down to or belittled because they own a car. I don't think I know anyone on the Hill who doesn't own at least one car (though obviously they exist).

Strike that, one of the more radical urbanists might gently rib you if you drove four blocks to a bar rather than walking, but that's about it.

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 12:07 pm • linkreport

"I'm not going to be the one to tell the mother of three in Anacostia that she should walk home with her family groceries, a mile through often dangerous neighborhoods."

I'm trying to think of one policy that has been suggested on GGW that would make it harder for someone living in Anacostia to use a car to drive to the grocery store. I can't think of any. In fact many "anticar" policies, like discouraging commuting from the suburbs by car, would probably make it easier for this hypothetical mother of three to use her car.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

driving [isn't] some sort of casual preference all of the time.

The fact that this situation exists in places that are highly developed, densely populated and have massive transportation infrastructure (roads) is the problem. In places such as there (densely populated with massive investments in transportation infrastructure) no should be in a position that driving is the only reasonable choice for getting somewhere, especially for destinations <5 miles, but even for getting from DC to Baltimore on the weekend, to use a local example of how the transportation infrastructure has, in an imbalanced way, prioritized driving over all else.

by Tina on Apr 19, 2013 12:10 pm • linkreport

Assuming your commute is not impossible on transit what do you actually truly need it for?

Even if I didn't need my car for my commute, I would still need it to get to other places that aren't not metro-accessible. DC's problem is not that it's hostile to cars, it's that its transit system is designed and built for people arriving in downtown at 8AM on a weekday and leaving by 7PM.

And that is what GGW puts its energy into changing: creating an environment where transit isn't just about the daily commuter from the suburbs but about the person who lives in Brookland and wants to go to Glover Park or H Street.

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 12:12 pm • linkreport

"Strike that, one of the more radical urbanists might gently rib you if you drove four blocks to a bar rather than walking, but that's about it."

:) My wife who is usually a tad less "urbanist" than me, sometimes want to walk to our closest restaurant, whereas I prefer to drive, at least at night. In my defense, to get there you have to cross a road at a location that would be an excellent illustration of how suburban road design and crosswalk treatment is designed to speed auto traffic at the expense of ped safety.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 12:12 pm • linkreport

I'm not going to be the one to tell the mother of three in Anacostia that she should walk home with her family groceries, a mile through often dangerous neighborhoods.

I'm pretty sure that GGW would advocate having more (ANY) grocery stores in Anacostia so that this wouldn't be a problem. Not to mention the fact that GGW doesn't even advocate anything that would make that a problem NOW.

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 12:14 pm • linkreport

Alan B wrote:

They care about 50 years of urban planning that has priveleged new highways over all other forms of transit despite the fact that many people are looking for alternatives or just can't even afford to own and maintain a car or don't want to.

Leading to the situation that @Hillman observes:

...for many it's not a preference to drive...It's a fundamental fact of their life.

Yep. That's why generating alternatives is so important. Also why there's such fear and pushback.

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 12:17 pm • linkreport

I have no idea what that means.

It was a joke about tone. It can refer to writing or to music. Nice dodge though.

particularly when they do things like shorten yellow lights, artificially set the limits lower only in the speedcam are

Has this ever happened in DC?

the legitimate concerns drivers expressed about poor placement and implementation of speed cameras, etc., were by and large dismissed by GGW

DAL wrote an article criticizing some camera placement choices. That would the opposite of dismissing them.

Is cycling a right? Is walking? Is mass transit?

Yes to all three. Unless you think someone can be banned from one of those activities?

by David C on Apr 19, 2013 12:24 pm • linkreport

I'm trying to think of one policy that has been suggested on GGW that would make it harder for someone living in Anacostia to use a car to drive to the grocery store. I can't think of any. In fact many "anticar" policies, like discouraging commuting from the suburbs by car, would probably make it easier for this hypothetical mother of three to use her car.

Verily, that which you do unto the super-commuter from Hagerstown, you do unto the mother of three from Anacostia. After all, a driver is a driver is a driver.

This similar to the odd argument you hear when proposing some minor addition of bike infrastructure: say, a cross-town cycletrack. "Oh, yeah? If you ban private cars, how are you going to get FOOD delivered?!? You know beer is shipped on trucks that drive on roads right???"

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 12:26 pm • linkreport

I'm not going to be the one to tell the mother of three in Anacostia that she should walk home with her family groceries, a mile through often dangerous neighborhoods.

Actually, even the most dangerous neighborhood in DC is rarely dangerous. On most days, in every neighborhoods you could stand on the corner, talk on your cell phone for hours and nothing bad will happen to you. It's a fact.

by David C on Apr 19, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

Has [shortening the yellow light timing] ever happened in DC?

There's little evidence it's ever happened anywhere. Never mind the facts though, it's plausible enough that it *must* be true.

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 12:35 pm • linkreport

Walking is a right. The others are just some of the many transportation modes which should be balanced through well thought out public policy.

by Alan B. on Apr 19, 2013 12:35 pm • linkreport

Anyway I said it's not a right to "drive wherever and whenever". Obviously anyone who meets the legal requirements and shows that they have the ability to do so safely should be given the same access as anyone else on public roads.

by Alan B. on Apr 19, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

.for many it's not a preference to drive...It's a fundamental fact of their life.

And one reaction to this is, "Wow. Maybe we should change things so that it doesn't have to be a fundamental fact of life." While another reaction is, "IT'S A FUNDAMENTAL FACT OF LIFE AND ALL TRANSPORTATION RESOURCES SHOULD GO TO PEOPLE LIKE ME AND NOT ANYONE ELSE WITH OTHER PREFERENCES!"

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 12:47 pm • linkreport

In sum, people are feeling some type of way because Townsend made disparaging remarks about DAL. Great! Feel that type of way. But lets not sit here and act as if people have to like or not strike back against the things hurled their way. They don't and won't.

There's a perception about GGW that is promotes multi-modal transit to the exclusion of cars. Is it 100% accurate, of course not. But people aren't simply "imagining" this in the way people are imagining that the gov't will come to take their guns. A few bad apples can spoil the entire bunch. You know, like one representative of an organization causing people to urge their family/friends to cancel their membership. Doesn't matter if it's not an official policy they're objecting to...it's the person.

People aren't simply "making up" this notion that GGW encourages the driver/pedestrian/cyclist divide no more than GGW makes up this idea that AAA seems to be pro-car to the exclusion of everything else.

by HogWash on Apr 19, 2013 12:53 pm • linkreport

Oboe mocks: "Oh, yeah? If you ban private cars, how are you going to get FOOD delivered?!? You know beer is shipped on trucks that drive on roads right???"

Actually, the PG dude’s anger- and jealousy-rich rant usually invokes “your" "tofu.”

To which I reply, not about his fried chicken, but that if aimless suburban drivers were off the roads, and out of the way of our tofu delivery trucks, the price and quality of healthy urban food would improve. Oops.

Logic and reason, though, have nothing against older Americans’ inbred 1950s car entitlement mentality. Thank goodness that temporary abmomination is dying out with the sad folks who recite it.

by Sydney P on Apr 19, 2013 12:54 pm • linkreport

I don't understand how something that was invented ~100 years ago could be a fundamental fact of life? I guess having cable TV is a fundamental fact of life since it's so ubiquitous? I mean I suppose if are you some kind of half man/half car that can't physically move without driving that would make it a fundamental fact of life.

by Alan B. on Apr 19, 2013 12:54 pm • linkreport

There's a perception about GGW that is promotes multi-modal transit to the exclusion of cars.

Multi-modal is, by definition, something that includes cars.

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 12:59 pm • linkreport

And now AAA has apologized...which is what you all wanted right? Which is why 50-11 people cosigned the article criticizing AAA for criticizing Alpert?

Will the attacks on AAA continue? Of course they will. Why? Because you think you're justified.

Some people are thin-skinned...others like me aren't.

by HogWash on Apr 19, 2013 1:00 pm • linkreport

You call that an apology? They more or less claimed that they were misquoted. That's the kind of apology you get out of a child that won't admit that they were wrong.

For someone who is so thick skinned HogWash, you seem to be taking this all incredibly personally.

by Alan B. on Apr 19, 2013 1:02 pm • linkreport

Will the attacks on AAA continue?

Because disagreeing with the policy prefernces of AAA is an INAPPROPRIATE ATTACK!

You ARE thin-skinned because you flip out and get angry because SOMEONE DISAGREES WITH AAA, and you rant and rave about how GGW shouldn't be doing that.

This is sort of this really odd DC affectation where no one is supposed to publicly disagree with the consensus of the small-town mindset that grips this city, because that is considered to be some kind of inappropriate outrage.

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 1:02 pm • linkreport

Oh, come off it, HogWash.

"others like me aren't"

Good for you. You want a cookie?

That whole comment was dripping with self-assured smugness.

For the record, the guy said his quotes were taken out of context.

In what context would it be okay to compare someone to the KU KLUX KLAN when you're a communications professional?

C'mon, defend it. I know you'll find a way to justify it.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Apr 19, 2013 1:03 pm • linkreport

I don't understand how something that was invented ~100 years ago could be a fundamental fact of life?

Travel outside of areas w/mass transit and it will make that much more sense. I don't understand how you think transportation isn't a fundamental fact of life.

by HogWash on Apr 19, 2013 1:05 pm • linkreport

Ceefer yesterday in the comment section of the Washington City Paper:

Is there a war on cars?

Definitely yes!

The insulting tone of this piece of "journalism" is a case in point.

by watcher on Apr 19, 2013 1:05 pm • linkreport

Will the attacks on AAA continue? Of course they will. Why? Because you think you're justified.

Well if AAA keeps advocating for positions that go against having streets that encourage mulitple uses or rail against speed cameras for enforcing the law I'd naturally expect people to counter that.

So they said sorry for calling someone retarded and thus we can no longer criticize the things they lobby for? Ok.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 1:07 pm • linkreport

Travel outside of areas w/mass transit and it will make that much more sense.

So would it be a good idea to put more mass transit in those places or design those areas such that driving isn't a fact of life for every activity?

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 1:07 pm • linkreport

They more or less claimed that they were misquoted.

Which could be true.

You ARE thin-skinned because you flip out and get angry because SOMEONE DISAGREES WITH AAA, and you rant and rave about how GGW shouldn't be doing that.

This is an interesting point. So because I disagree w/the manner in which some her attack AAA and Townsend personally, then I'm the one who ends up thin-skinned, angry, flips out, rants and raves. But of course none of this is true in the reverse..which is usually how it works.

In what context would it be okay to compare someone to the KU KLUX KLAN when you're a communications professional?

Is someone else posting under my handle and I'm unaware of it? They must be since I'm quite sure I never cosigned the use of such invective. Now the other insults is par for the course.

BTW, isn't DAL a professional? A professional who called the Examiner, "bile" and "hateful." Things happen...either accept the apology or not.

by HogWash on Apr 19, 2013 1:11 pm • linkreport

HogWash,

No one is arguing about whether or not you should be driving around areas with no transit access. That's completely unrelated to the topic at hand which is how the city should be able to a develop a multimodal transportaiton policy to fit its needs. (I have to admit your doggedness at changing the subject anytime you don't have an argument is impressive though.) The fact that you seem to think that a desire to accomodate any other form of transportation other than a car anywhere seems to cut down your argument that you are trying to defend the right to access to transportation when we are precisely concerned with increased mobility options.

by Alan B. on Apr 19, 2013 1:11 pm • linkreport

The refrain I usually hear is "it'd be great if we could transit to most things but that isn't the reality so therefore we must not do anything that increases the viability of transit until we can increase the viability of transit."

You can replace transit with walking or biking as well.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 1:12 pm • linkreport

And you clearly need to look up the meaning of the word professional.

by Alan B. on Apr 19, 2013 1:13 pm • linkreport

My comment was just deleted, so I will summarize.

Go over the Washington City Paper website and see comment #37 of the "War on Cars" article. You will find a very interesting comment from one of the posters above.

by watcher on Apr 19, 2013 1:14 pm • linkreport

Sorry, it was still there.

by watcher on Apr 19, 2013 1:15 pm • linkreport

"For instance, Dave Alpert's blog is extremely quick to block any post they disagree with or is in any way critical of their line of thinking. Their blog comment policies are legendary."

I wish I had a dollar for every comment on this blog that disagrees with DAL. I could get me one of those high end condos in Logan Circle, and get me some high end carbon fiber "fred" bike to cycle to work.

Down those bike lanes that like to ride on the sidewalks. Or something.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 1:23 pm • linkreport

(I have to admit your doggedness at changing the subject anytime you don't have an argument is impressive though.)

I have to admit you said you don't understand how cars can be a fundamental fact of life for people. I responded that it is for people outside of areas w/mass transit. Not sure what's so impressive about pointing that out.

by HogWash on Apr 19, 2013 1:32 pm • linkreport

duh.

A. Cars have become a fundamental fact of life in many places. They werent before they were invented - some of those were rural places where it was very difficult to get around (despite horses) before. Some are places designed a way that didnt exist before autos
B. most of the areas implicated in GGW posts are not like those areas. Some are a little like them - some not at all like them
C. All of which is a red herring and distaction, since GGW does not call for eliminating autos. Period. The implication that it does is a straw man. Its as if DAL suggested that AAA wanted to ban bikes, or shut metro.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 1:36 pm • linkreport

"Actually, even the most dangerous neighborhood in DC is rarely dangerous. On most days, in every neighborhoods you could stand on the corner, talk on your cell phone for hours and nothing bad will happen to you. It's a fact."

That 'fact' was little comfort to me when I was mugged at gunpoint walking home.

On one of those 'rarely dangerous' DC streets.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 2:19 pm • linkreport

That 'fact' was little comfort to me when I was mugged at gunpoint walking home.

Carjacking also occurs in DC.

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 2:24 pm • linkreport

"I can assure you no one on the Hill is talked down to or belittled because they own a car. I don't think I know anyone on the Hill who doesn't own at least one car (though obviously they exist)."

Well, if you count being spit at by bar patrons on H Street after being told I was 'murdering the planet' because I drove my car to H Street, then I beg to differ.

Is that every day? Of course not.

But frequently in conversation on the Hill you hear twee youth going on and on about how they just can't believe anyone in DC drives a car, how being car-free is so obviously morally superior, etc.

And I'd say about half the residents on my block don't own vehicles.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 2:25 pm • linkreport

@Hillman, I would venture to say I'm younger than you, have lived on two locations on the hill, and I have NEVER HEARD A SINGLE PERSON SAY anything like that. Ever. Or people (of any age) who live elsewhere in the metro area.

by H St LL on Apr 19, 2013 2:28 pm • linkreport

Well, if you count being spit at by bar patrons on H Street after being told I was 'murdering the planet' because I drove my car to H Street, then I beg to differ.

I can only remember 1 time in the past 6 years in which I used transit to get to H Street, and no one has ever given me crap for it.

And you're just going to have to get used to people being proud of not having a car, rather than slathering all over you regarding how awesome your car is. I realize that you approached car ownership as the pinnacle of personal and professional accomplishment in your life and are now rather frustrated that either (a) no one cares or (b) considers it tacky and unseemly, but the world does not exist to make up for your social insecurities.

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 2:29 pm • linkreport

Well, if you count being spit at by bar patrons on H Street after being told I was 'murdering the planet' because I drove my car to H Street, then I beg to differ.

Wow Hillman, all the incredibly exciting stuff happens to you, doesn't it. So dramatic. Are you sure it was the car?

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 2:29 pm • linkreport

"nd one reaction to this is, "Wow. Maybe we should change things so that it doesn't have to be a fundamental fact of life." While another reaction is, "IT'S A FUNDAMENTAL FACT OF LIFE AND ALL TRANSPORTATION RESOURCES SHOULD GO TO PEOPLE LIKE ME AND NOT ANYONE ELSE WITH OTHER PREFERENCES!""

No one is saying that.

I can't think of anyone out there saying we shouldn't invest in transit.

And in particular one of the biggest problems is we don't care as much about making our streets safe as we do about having a bike lane on that street.

Safety, or lack thereof, is an integral part of the decent transit options strategy.

Or at least is should be.

In DC, though, we pretend that crime is not a factor.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 2:29 pm • linkreport

No one has ever given me crap for driving to H Street, which I almost always do, that is.

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 2:29 pm • linkreport

ANECDOTES = DATA!

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Apr 19, 2013 2:30 pm • linkreport

We've driven to H Street, with no problem. Though we've only gone into a bar once. I'm not sure if it would have been considered "twee".

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 2:31 pm • linkreport

No one is saying that.

I can't think of anyone out there saying we shouldn't invest in transit.

AAA and "Arlingtonians for more sensibler transit" are saying that.

Safety, or lack thereof, is an integral part of the decent transit options strategy.

Possibly by improving public safety! You can always get carjacked, after all. Being in a car is not much additional protection. Not to mention the fact that in denser, transit-oriented areas, it turns out that safety is improved. How dense and transit oriented is anacostia?

this might be relevant to this thread.

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 2:32 pm • linkreport

"And you're just going to have to get used to people being proud of not having a car, rather than slathering all over you regarding how awesome your car is. I realize that you approached car ownership as the pinnacle of personal and professional accomplishment in your life and are now rather frustrated that either (a) no one cares or (b) considers it tacky and unseemly, but the world does not exist to make up for your social insecurities."

How is this helpful?

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 2:33 pm • linkreport

Yes, Oboe, I lead a rich, exciting life.

As you can tell by the fact that I seldom feel the need to resort to ALL CAPS in online postings.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 2:34 pm • linkreport

I realize that you approached car ownership as the pinnacle of personal and professional accomplishment in your life and are now rather frustrated that either (a) no one cares or (b) considers it tacky and unseemly, but the world does not exist to make up for your social insecurities.

But of course people don't demonize car ownership. Not here. How ridiculous.

by HogWash on Apr 19, 2013 2:34 pm • linkreport

Aren't you like 70 or something? What are you doing hanging out with kids in bars on H st?

by Alan B. on Apr 19, 2013 2:35 pm • linkreport

Well, if you count being spit at by bar patrons on H Street after being told I was 'murdering the planet' because I drove my car to H Street, then I beg to differ.

I think we can safely assume this never happened.

(Or if it did, it was the culmination of a 40 minute drunken argument about "entitled cyclists", white-on-black racism, and "young whipper-snappers" who "think they own this place...").

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 2:37 pm • linkreport

HogWash, I actually have a car, which is very nice and wonderful. But my personal identity is not wrapped up in it, and I don't need people to lick my butt because I own one. In fact, I appreciate my friends who don't have a car, and don't mind when they mention such a fact. Some people feel personally attacked when the public isn't jealous of their car and in fact probably don't give a crap.

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 2:39 pm • linkreport

"I think we can safely assume this never happened."

How is this helpful?

I've never called you a liar.

I'd prefer the same courtesy from you.

And to give more context.... no, it was nothing to do with being drunk. At least not for me.

I pulled up in a parking space close to Popeyes, and patrons of one of the bars there (I forget which, but it was the one that had the cop car as mascot) berated me. And spit at me.

I never said a word to them. Either before the incident or after.

Fortunately their spitting skills were pretty terrible.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

I actually got berated and spit at by H Street bar patrons the other day, too. It was right after I got off the streetcar.

by worthing on Apr 19, 2013 2:42 pm • linkreport

How is this helpful?

I'm trying to teach you how to act like a grownup rather than whining about how you have to deal with people who aren't like you, aren't jealous of you, and have no interest in being like you, and don't give a hoot about your oh-so-wonderful car. And I say this as someone who has to do a lot of driving and drives to H street regularly. And yet, I can report that no one hates me. The difference is that my ego and self-worth isn't wrapped up in car ownership, unlike a lot of the sensitive flowers on GGW who hate it when the blog talks about transit and feel the need to chime in with "what about mmyyyy neeeeds? Pay attention to meeee!"

It's not about you.

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 2:43 pm • linkreport

JustMe:

Again, how are comments like that helpful?

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 2:44 pm • linkreport

how are comments like that helpful?

As I said, maybe you'll learn to act like a grownup and realize that the world doesn't exist to stroke your ego.

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 2:46 pm • linkreport

This is going downhill quickly.

Let's refrain from taking things too personally. That's how Townsend got in trouble in the first place. We're discussing policy here.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 2:47 pm • linkreport

I dunno I can see people on H st spitting on people. That sounds like something a certain slice of dirty hipsters would do. Obviously not something anyone should condone.

by Alan B. on Apr 19, 2013 2:48 pm • linkreport

But my personal identity is not wrapped up in it, and I don't need people to lick my butt because I own one. In fact, I appreciate my friends who don't have a car, and don't mind when they mention such a fact.

This is an interesting twist. Where are these phantom ghosts whose identities are wrapped up in their cars? I don't appreciate my car-less friends any more than I do those who do own cars. Haven't really taken your hierarchy approach...and this is coming from someone who, unlike you, doesn't own a car. .

It's funny to read you talk about sensitive followers in a thread based on the sensitive feelings of people here.

by HogWash on Apr 19, 2013 2:48 pm • linkreport

I had a pedestrian scream at me and try to hit me once because I had a red bike. Then he peed on a wall. Okay, he was a homeless guy and I think he was off his meds.

Still, it says a lot about the attitudes of DC's pedestrians.

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 2:50 pm • linkreport

Where are these phantom ghosts whose identities are wrapped up in their cars?

Hillman. He sounds genuinely upset that he has to deal with people who talk about not owning a car, ignoring HIM and HIS car and how wonderful HE is because he OWNS A CAR LIKE A NORMAL PERSON SHOULD. What about his needs? What about the need of GGW to mention when supporting bicyclists how much drivers and car owners contribute to the cultural fabric of our city? You don't want to make car owners feel bad by not acknowledging their contributions and professional accomplishments that led to their car ownership, do you?

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 2:51 pm • linkreport

"I dunno I can see people on H st spitting on people. That sounds like something a certain slice of dirty hipsters would do"

I've been spit at for stupider reasons. By better looking people.

Or at least ones with better posture.

Stand up straight, hipsters.

Used to be a bum on 8th St SE that would regularly spit at people. For no apparent reason.

You weren't considered a neighborhood regular until he'd spit at you at least once.

Of course he also used to chase women with a stick.

That wasn't so funny.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 2:53 pm • linkreport

I think what has gotten lost here is the original City Paper article.

GGW should have been dancing with glee at this puff piece.

Not only did it misrepresent concerns about car policies as being limited to half a dozen rich upper NW residents and one nutjob from AAA, it actually managed to create empathy for the GGW point of view by selecting ONLY the AAA nutjob to get most of the quotes and devote most of the article to.

Talk about a media gift.....

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 2:57 pm • linkreport

Of course he also used to chase women with a stick.

I always thought you couldnt consider yourself a local until you'd been hit on by a homeless guy. I never considered there could be a literal interpretation of that.

by Alan B. on Apr 19, 2013 2:58 pm • linkreport

To clarify, this guy wasn't homeless.

He had a home around the corner. Or, more precisely, he lived in public housing paid for by those very people he chased.

He just chose to bum on the street and harass people as a sort of day job.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 3:01 pm • linkreport

The direction this conversation has taken is not a productive one.

The existence of jerks like Townsend or a few kids do not invalidate the actual problems that automobiles bring, or their benefits. Certainly berating each other isn't solving any problems, and it's even making any dialogue usesless.

Townsend, however, should probably be fired for acting so unprofessionally.

by Neil Flanagan on Apr 19, 2013 3:04 pm • linkreport

Neil:

Couldn't agree more about Townsend.

Assuming he wasn't quoted out of context he's pretty much the worst spokesmodel ever.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 3:05 pm • linkreport

"I actually got berated and spit at by H Street bar patrons the other day, too. It was right after I got off the streetcar."

I'm confused. Is this a fairly witty joke, or are you calling me a liar like Oboe has?

I'm a glass half full kindof guy, so I'll go with fairly witty joke.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 3:07 pm • linkreport

Neil:

Though the folks at the Susan Komen foundation would give him a run for his money, in terms of awfulness as spokesmodels.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

...are you calling me a liar like Oboe has?

You said:

Well, if you count being spit at by bar patrons on H Street after being told I was 'murdering the planet' because I drove my car to H Street, then I beg to differ.

Okay, so let's have it. How many bar patrons were spitting on you 4? 3? 2? Did they take turns? And you merely rolled up in your car, saying nothing, merely got out, and were immediately subjected to this assault by multiple spitters who told you you were "murdering the planet" simply because you drove your car to H Street. And these were just average everyday "bar patrons" representative of the normal run of District youth.

As I said before, that never happened. At least not without significant contextualizing details. I have a six year old; I know when I'm being told a half-story.

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 3:14 pm • linkreport

Neil

Do WTOP, WaPo, the local TV stations, even sometime WAMU, go to drunken H Street hipsters for statements on transportation and zoning policy? I don't think so. They DO turn to AAA, regularly.

That is the scandal. That the local media pay SO much attention to AAA on these issues, and treat them better than they would treat, say, the NRA on guns.

Thats who WCP is shaming. Thats why its on WCP's front page. Thats why its important.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 3:16 pm • linkreport

"How is this helpful?

I've never called you a liar.

I'd prefer the same courtesy from you."

if you are going to post personal anecdotes, as evidence, you are going to have to accept that some people will doubt them, and will say so.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

Oboe:

It was about six or seven people standing outside of the bar. Two of the girls were doing most of the yelling at me. One of the girls and I think one of the guys did the actual spitting.

The rest of their friends mostly either laughed nervously or looked embarrassed.

Didn't seem to me to be any reason to engage them, so I just walked away.

It'd be awesome if we could refrain from calling each other liars in this forum.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 3:22 pm • linkreport

"But of course people don't demonize car ownership. Not here. How ridiculous."

One more time. I own a car. I don't feel demonized. Though Im not sure if by "around here" you mean GGW posts, GGW comments, in "twee" bars on H street, or the entire region. I would say here in NoVa there's more stigma to riding the bus, or living in too small a house, than there is to owning a car. Well let me correct that. There is SOME stigma to only owning one car.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

"It'd be awesome if we could refrain from calling each other liars in this forum."

So we are expected to accept every anecdote anyone tells about anything?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 3:26 pm • linkreport

Last time I needed a jump, I called AAA, and they responded in under 15 minutes. Turns out, it wasn't the battery, so a tow truck showed up, also in under 15 minutes. So I'll keep my AAA membership.

Along with my SmartTrip Card.

Which gets the balance of the $235 Fed Subsidy left after I pay the Vanpool. Which is as close to a "dedicated transit funding source" as anything.

Sorry, need to take CaBi to my next meeting.

by Jim59 on Apr 19, 2013 3:26 pm • linkreport

A drunk girl did something mean and stupid. This is as bad as when the spokesperson for a nationwide organization called a local blogger/activist retarded when asked what he thought about DC's changing policies with regards to automobiles.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 3:29 pm • linkreport

Can we all agree that the local media should neither go to AAA, nor to H Street drunks, as reliable sources on transport and zoning?

Can we all agree that its legitimate to boycott both AAA, and H Street drunks?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 3:32 pm • linkreport

My assumption is that MOST commenters who enjoy and agree with GGW's agenda own a car. And yet they don't feel demonized and have never expressed any problem with how they feel demonized because of their car ownership. So it strikes me as suspicious when someone comes in and claims that they feel demonized for being car-owners, because their experience is unlike that of most all other car owners (which is most of us here).

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 3:32 pm • linkreport

I'd be spittin' mad too if I had to wait 3 hours to get into Toki and thus had to settle for Sticky Rice instead.*

*This anecdote is false because I would just go to Horace and Dickey's.

by worthing on Apr 19, 2013 3:35 pm • linkreport

I can certainly agree that cherry-picking one AAA nutjob as being somehow representative of the majority of people in DC with concerns about driving and parking is irresponsible journalism.

Along with, of course, the half dozen upper NW busybodies the author takes such pleasure in ridiculing.

As for H St drunks, it depends on their level of hotness. And cleanliness.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 3:38 pm • linkreport

The only time I was spit at by a hipster, it was because he had to get the hot tea out of his mouth that was burning him.

He drank it before it was cool.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 3:39 pm • linkreport

"I can certainly agree that cherry-picking one AAA nutjob as being somehow representative of the majority of people in DC with concerns about driving and parking is irresponsible journalism."

He happens to be the official spokesman of the most active local pro auto lobby in the city. He actually IS representative of the driving public - or at least holds himself out that way, and is seen that way by most media (NOT WCP so much) Challenging that representativeness, is what the WCP article, and these blog posts is all about.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 3:42 pm • linkreport

They weren't cherry picking AAA as a spokesman for anything but AAA's positions, which you would expect the spokesperson be eminently capable of representing. I'm not sure why you are defending him on one hand and saying he doesn't speak for you on the other. Seems like you gotta commit to one side or the other. No one is saying all car owners are bad. No one is trying to take away your car. A lot of us do think that cars sometimes need to receive secondary or tertiary priority in appropriate zones where other needs are greater.

by Alan B. on Apr 19, 2013 3:45 pm • linkreport

Remember how David Howard lost his job in the Williams administration?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversies_about_the_word_%22niggardly%22

by Tina on Apr 19, 2013 3:47 pm • linkreport

@Hillman re: cherrypicking - Well, hold on, I think that's a bit of projecting. At no point does the article suggest that Mr. Townsend speaks for the majority of people in DC; in fact, I think part of the greater point of the piece is that they don't. AAA is shouting about a war on cars, but they're also calling urbanism advocates ninny retards who bear resemblance to the KKK. That in itself undermines the organization's credibility. The claim in the follow-up--that AAA the bigger organization believes Mr. Townsend's comments were taken out of context when they clearly weren't--undermines the organization even further, due to their defense of this official spokesman.

There's nothing irresponsible about the City Paper piece. What's irresponsible are pieces that do suggest there's a "war on cars" without investigating or analyzing that claim the way that Mr. Wiener does, in great detail. The Examiner was a steady source of these; this is a welcome and much more fact-based counterpoint.

by worthing on Apr 19, 2013 3:48 pm • linkreport

Full disclosure: Due to circumstances beyond my control, our family now owns two cars. Bike to car ratio is still around 4:1, though.

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 3:48 pm • linkreport

@Tina,

Awww, no you didn't! We're taking this thing to 300 for sure now...

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 3:50 pm • linkreport

Oboe:

The WCP piece was a gift to GGW.

They focussed so much on this one nutjob.

Their only other quotes or references were to this mystery group of half a dozen upper NW busybodies.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 3:51 pm • linkreport

Alan B:

Who is defending Townsend?

Certainly not me.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 3:53 pm • linkreport

"Full disclosure: Due to circumstances beyond my control, our family now owns two cars. Bike to car ratio is still around 4:1, though."

Clearly, its time to trade one car for a bike of equivalent value ;)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 3:53 pm • linkreport

The "nutjob" in question is someone that all media orgs. turn to when they want to see what some policy's impact to drivers will be.

I'm not sure how much of a gift it is to remind people that its not ok to call other people retarded.

by drumz on Apr 19, 2013 3:54 pm • linkreport

"The WCP piece was a gift to GGW.

They focussed so much on this one nutjob.

Their only other quotes or references were to this mystery group of half a dozen upper NW busybodies."

You keep saying "one nutjob" as if AAA isn't central to the coalition attacking the zoning reform, attacking bike lanes, attacking any enforcement of parking and traffic laws, etc.

The entire "war on cars" meme is somewhat, how shall we say, unhinged. So it somewhat naturally slips into some very odd rhetoric.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 3:56 pm • linkreport

They focussed so much on this one nutjob.

That "nutjob" is the spokesperson for an influential organization, a man who is quoted in nearly every transportation article written in this region.

He is the media's go-to person on basically all the articles they write about road/street/parking policy in DC and its environs.

You could write an entire article just about him and it would not be "focusing on him too much."

Dismissing him as "one nutjob" is dismissing the massive amount of influence he and his organization have.

by MLD on Apr 19, 2013 4:19 pm • linkreport

@Hillman-If it makes you feel any better, I've been spit on 3 separate times by black women drivers who then told me to "get a fucking car whiteboy" (or something equally racist and disparaging). All 3 drivers made close, intimidating passes (always unnecessary) prior to spitting....clearly to make a point. I couldn't tell you how many other times I've simply been told to "get a car" by someone in this city (white, black, purple or otherwise).
So...sorry that you got spit on, that's not nice.

by thump on Apr 19, 2013 4:19 pm • linkreport

Assuming he wasn't quoted out of context he's pretty much the worst spokesmodel ever.

He's not a bad looking man, but he's the ugliest spokesmodel ever!

Clearly, its time to trade one car for a bike of equivalent value ;)

Bikeshop Fred's everywhere are ready to sell Oboe the best laterally stiff and vertically compliant crabon frame they have in stock.

by thump on Apr 19, 2013 4:29 pm • linkreport

Thump:

You raise a valid point.

I'm pretty sure if I was a more regular cyclist, particularly a commuter, I'd see pretty crappy behavior from drivers pretty regularly.

Most of my cycling is of the relaxed 'within the neighborhood' sort.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 4:31 pm • linkreport

Drumz…

It was a gift because of the severity of Townsend's buffoonery, and by definition that makes the GGW viewpoint look more tempered and sane.

And it was a gift because WCP chose to make that such a huge focal point for the article.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 4:34 pm • linkreport

"You keep saying "one nutjob" as if AAA isn't central to the coalition attacking the zoning reform, attacking bike lanes, attacking any enforcement of parking and traffic laws, etc."

Actually I would argue they don't attack all enforcement of parking and traffic laws.

And they don't dismiss all bike lanes automatically.

And they most certainly do not represent me. I'm not a member.

Neither is anyone I know (to my knowledge).

The WCP writer could have easily sought out any number of other locals to get their views.

He has one tiny quote from Chuck Thies that is a more nuanced and less nutjob defense of use of cars.

But that clearly wasn't the juicy angle he was seeking.

by Hillman on Apr 19, 2013 4:37 pm • linkreport

I bicycle on weekends and have never been spit on, though generally I bicycle around the triangle formed by Chinatown, Georgetown, U street, and Shaw. Maybe it's different in other neighborhoods.

The WCP writer could have easily sought out any number of other locals to get their views.

"Other locals" would be just any random nutjob picked out of a lineup. Townsend is the regional spokesman of the nation's premier drivers' organization.

by JustMe on Apr 19, 2013 4:43 pm • linkreport

I've never been spat on, but I did have a kindergartner scream "Get the f*ck out of the road!" from the shotgun seat of a Mercedes SUV once while riding in RCP. Not sure if there was an adult in the driver seat, or another kindergartner. I thought it was a sad indicator of the attitudes of the District's youth.

by oboe on Apr 19, 2013 4:52 pm • linkreport

"He has one tiny quote from Chuck Thies that is a more nuanced and less nutjob defense of use of cars."

Huh? he could have gotten a defense of the use of cars from harriet tregoning. Or from David Alpert. The confusion of 'defending the use of cars' with 'opposing a set of policies that some see as disfavoring cars' is in fact nutjobby, IMO.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 5:02 pm • linkreport

Well, if you count being spit at by bar patrons on H Street after being told I was 'murdering the planet' because I drove my car to H Street

Wow. That is unbelievable. Truly unbelievable. Would you not agree that this is just really really unbelievable?

by David C on Apr 19, 2013 5:03 pm • linkreport

My favorite is every time I've been told to get on the sidewalk I've always been in a spot that doesn't have sidewalks.

by Drumz on Apr 19, 2013 5:03 pm • linkreport

"Actually I would argue they don't attack all enforcement of parking and traffic laws.

And they don't dismiss all bike lanes automatically."

they are certainly more hostile to those things than, say GGW is to driving. And yes, the anderson email certainly looks like its against all enforcement of traffic laws - in tallying up the total of parking tickets, there's no distinction made between parking tickets that should have been given, and ones that shouldnt.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 5:04 pm • linkreport

BTW, I agree with Hillman that this article was a gift to those of us who support bike lanes, enforcement of traffic laws and the end of parking minimums. It really did make the opposition look like a bunch of crazies.

by David C on Apr 19, 2013 5:04 pm • linkreport

The Thies quote is also dishonest - "nutjobbery" dressed up in smoother language.

If you consider that nuanced, I have to question your own good faith.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 19, 2013 5:08 pm • linkreport

We canceled our AAA. But I disagree that GGW is in charge of the rules on when we can use "insults." Stupid, false insults should be prohibited, such as the insults flung like monkey-poo by the idiot at AAA. But correct, intelligent, rational insults, such as those I enjoy using, cannot be prohibited merely because GGW has a political correctness code it wants to impose on its readers.

by Green Eyeshade on Apr 19, 2013 6:22 pm • linkreport

@watcher,

I'm not sure I get your reason for copying and posting here a comment I made in the City Paper comments.

My only response is yes, I said it. So what?

by ceefer66 on Apr 20, 2013 7:05 am • linkreport

Green Eyeshade:

GGW picks and choosed when they use their policy.

I was called a liar on this forum.

And GGW is apparently cool with that.

by Hillman on Apr 20, 2013 7:30 am • linkreport

Hillman: We try to monitor all comments, but especially when it's a really active thread we don't get to read every one. There's a report comment link next to each comment. If you object to a comment, please report it rather than attacking the forum because it didn't get instantly deleted.

by David Alpert on Apr 20, 2013 9:21 am • linkreport

It bears repeating that your options for roadside assistance go far beyond AAA -- which deserves de-funding not just for their local rhetoric but also for standing with the road-building lobbies every time the federal surface transportation bill resurfaces (which used to be 1/6 years, but now seems to be 5/6 years).

Check the fine print on your car warranty, your auto insurance, or even your rewards credit card: you may already be paying for roadside assistance benefits. For hotel and travel discounts, AARP (membership is cheap and open to anyone!) not only usually matches AAA, but they support livable communities and complete streets. (Besides, online consolidators are almost always cheaper still.)

by Payton on Apr 20, 2013 12:24 pm • linkreport

" But I disagree that GGW is in charge of the rules on when we can use "insults.""

its Dave's site, so of course he can run it how he likes. Its not run by the govt.

"I was called a liar on this forum"

The risk of citing pesonal anecdotes as evidence, is that some people will choose not to accept that they are true. I think thats the case almost anywhere on the net.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 20, 2013 12:30 pm • linkreport

@ceefer

It certainly shows where you are coming from, and the level of "reasonableness" you are operating from.

by Watcher on Apr 20, 2013 3:51 pm • linkreport

There's nothing irresponsible about the City Paper piece. What's irresponsible are pieces that do suggest there's a "war on cars" without investigating or analyzing that claim the way that Mr. Wiener does, in great detail. The Examiner was a steady source of these; this is a welcome and much more fact-based counterpoint.

by worthing on Apr 19, 2013 3:48 pm

Thank you, worthing!

by Watcher on Apr 20, 2013 3:56 pm • linkreport

"The risk of citing pesonal anecdotes as evidence, is that some people will choose not to accept that they are true. I think thats the case almost anywhere on the net."

The irony here is that GGW is holding themselves out as the horribly offended party because of trash talk from Thompson.

Yet several of their most prolific commenters have no problem trashing me.

I'm a big boy. I can take it.

I just find it funny. And sad.

I thought we were all supposed to be adults in this forum.

At least that's what I was hoping for.

by Hillman on Apr 21, 2013 7:32 am • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Hillman on Apr 21, 2013 7:35 am • linkreport

"The risk of citing pesonal anecdotes as evidence, is that some people will choose not to accept that they are true. I think thats the case almost anywhere on the net."

It's sad that we've gotten off on this tangent into one incident that in the overall scheme of things is insignificant.

by Hillman on Apr 21, 2013 7:37 am • linkreport

"The irony here is that GGW is holding themselves out as the horribly offended party because of trash talk from Thompson.

Yet several of their most prolific commenters have no problem trashing me."

FYI there is a difference in meaning and significance between arguments in a blog comment section, and the statements to the media of a spokesman for one of the more influential local organizations on issues related to transportation.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 21, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

I have removed some comments by several people and put some more folks on moderation mode.

I want to remind everyone that our policy is that we do not want threads to turn into a discussion of what is and isn't allowed or what some other people do and don't say or what the moderators do and don't do.

The comment threads are for talking about the issues in the posts or other related issues, not about how you feel about the comment thread. If you feel aggrieved about the way the conversation is going, please contact the moderators or report comments.

Unfortunately, one thing that seems to happen from time to time is someone comes on, maybe disagrees with the majority of commenters on issues for a while, then starts feeling frustrated that they continue to be in the minority opinion-wise, and starts then lashing out and picking fights with other commenters in ways that violate the policies and stop being about the issues. Then if their comments get deleted they start claiming here or on other publications' comments that they're discriminated against.

We will vociferously protect people's ability to have contrary views about the issues on here, but this is not a place for complaining about how other commenters behave or what the policy is. I'm going to shut that stuff down even at the risk of the people involved then going around constantly griping elsewhere that they weren't allowed to keep picking fights.

by David Alpert on Apr 21, 2013 11:02 am • linkreport

I also ditched AAA two years ago after learning of their views about bike lanes in DC. It also didn't help AAA that my dead battery call resulted in the service provider telling me I needed a new battery, that it wouldn't hold a charge, and he could replace it on the spot; of course, my battery was fine and he was a charlatan.

by LouDC on Apr 21, 2013 11:45 pm • linkreport

Aside Mr. Townsend's words to describe Mr. Alpert being in extremely bad taste, I suggest the "war on cars" frame is completely misleading.

As a Virginia resident, I think it's a "war on suburban commuters," which, after reading about how poorly Mr. Townsend (from Maryland) drives, seems mostly justified.

by Rich on Apr 22, 2013 10:07 am • linkreport

"Modest shift away from a total focus on the convenience of suburban commuters" just isn't quite as "snappy" as "War on Drivers"...

by oboe on Apr 22, 2013 10:21 am • linkreport

As a Virginia resident, I think it's a "war on suburban commuters,"

Really? Suburban commuters have access to one of the best metro systems in the US dedicated to shuttling them in and out from the center of the city at 2-minute intervals during rush hour.

The suburban commuter who lives near Vienna or West falls church and works in metro center has possibly one of the best commuting setups in the country.

by JustMe on Apr 22, 2013 10:36 am • linkreport

"The suburban commuter who lives near Vienna or West falls church and works in metro center has possibly one of the best commuting setups in the country."
------

As if we all do.

by ceefer66 on Apr 22, 2013 3:00 pm • linkreport

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