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 transportation planner for Arlington and professor of geography at George Washington University, but blogs to express personal views. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado, and lives in NE DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post .

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 working on his master’s in city and regional planning at Cornell University. He blogs about Marin County, California, at The Greater Marin.

Ben Ross was president of the Action Committee for Transit for 15 years.  His book about the politics of urbanism and transit, Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism, is now available in paperback.

Dan Reed is an urban planner and freelance writer. Check out his regular column in Washingtonian and his blog, Just Up the Pike. He's also an agent at Living In Style Real Estate and sits on the board of the Action Committee for Transit. Dan still gets a full night's sleep. He lives in downtown Silver Spring. All opinions are his own.

Aimee Custis is a wonk, communicator, and deputy director at the Coalition for Smarter Growth. Her writing represents her own views, though they’re often aligned with her employer’s. Weekends, you’ll find Aimee at home in Dupont Circle or practicing her other love, wedding photography.

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.

Before moving to California, Jaime Fearer was a community planner in Greenbelt, MD, and she lived in Trinidad, DC, where she served on the neighborhood association’s board. Jaime is now the Deputy Director of California Walks.

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 Senior Fellow at Mathematica Policy Research, but any of his views expressed here are his own and do not represent Mathematica.

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 and former longtime Atlanta resident, Brad hopes to encourage high-quality, walkable and bikeable development in the inner Beltway region of Prince George’s County.

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).

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.

Tim Krepp is an author and tour guide, living and specializing in Washington, DC, but working throughout the east coast. A resident of the more fashionable east side of Capitol Hill, Tim has lived in Washington, DC since graduating from George Washington University a few decades ago.

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.

Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University.  He currently lives in Southwest DC.

Brent Bolin is a community activist and non-profit executive with a background in environmental law, science, and policy. He is passionate about social justice, clean water, sustainable urbanism, and the Anacostia River. Brent served on the city council in Mount Rainier, MD and (rarely) blogs about local development issues.

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 daughter in Georgetown.

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.

Abigail Zenner, is a former lobbyist turned communications specialist. She specializes in taking technical urban planning jargon and turning it into readable blog posts. When she’s not nerding out about urban planning, transportation, and American History, you may find her teaching a fitness class. Her blog posts represent her personal views only.

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 Capitol Hill. He’s a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and is an employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer.

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.

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.

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.

Joe Weedon is the Ward 6 representative to the DC State Board of Education. He lives in Ward 6 with his wife and two children.

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.

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.

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 Burke.

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.

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.

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.