This story was first published on June 23, 2015.
Better streets, transit lines, and bike lanes are wonderful things. But for communities hoping to kick the car habit, good marketing and public relations matter just as much as the infrastructure itself.
Talking advertising at #streetscamp: Car ads don't show congestion, they show 1 driver on an open road. What's the transit equivalent?— BeyondDC (@beyonddc) June 20, 2015
Once upon a time, we walked
Once upon a time, there was an easy, cheap, and effective way to travel around cities. It was called walking. And then about 100 years ago one of the most effective public-relations campaigns in the history of mankind convinced everyone that streets belong to cars, and walking is dangerous.
Perception became reality, and a century later we’re still dealing with the consequences:
Does that ad make you want to walk safely? No. It makes you want to drive. Chalk one up for unintended consequences.
Here’s another example:
When "See something, say something" is the only transit message you hear, that's not positive. Doesn't make people want to ride #streetscamp— BeyondDC (@beyonddc) June 20, 2015
It doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s Mackie’s straightforward rule for doing it right:
Find positive, personal stories to tell when pitching transportation #Streetscamp— Jared Alves (@JAlves6) June 20, 2015
What kind of “positive, personal stories?” How about Arlington’s Car-Free Diet campaign:
You can even be positive while talking about safety, like in Arlington’s Be a PAL campaign.
Image from Arlington County.
Once you’ve got a story to tell, how do you get it out there? Mackie has a guide for that too:
Following that guide is part of Mobility Lab’s formula for success. And yes, it works. It really works: It takes 40,900 cars off Arlington’s roads every day.
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.