Transportation neutral language policy

Bikes are traffic!

I found an interesting little gem in the comments of this post about right hook collisions. It’s a pointer to the city of West Palm Beach, Florida transportation neutral language policy. Check it out. This policy introduces the idea with this

Much of the current transportation language was developed in the 1950’s and 1960’s. This was the golden age of automobiles and accommodating them was a major priority in society. Times have changed, especially in urban areas where creating a balanced, equitable, and sustainable transportation system is the new priority. The transportation language has not evolved at the same pace as the changing priorities; much of it still carries a pro-automobile bias.

One of the targeted words is improvement

The word improvements is often used when referring to the addition of through lanes, turn lanes, channelization, or other means of increasing motor vehicle capacity and/or speeds. Though these changes may indeed be improvements from the perspective of motor vehicle users, they would not be considered improvements by other constituents of the City. For example, a resident may not think that adding more lanes in front of the resident’s house is an improvement. A parent may not think that a channelized right turn lane is an improvement on their child’s pedestrian route to school.

And I love this part:

Traffic is often used synonymously with motor vehicle traffic. However, there are several types of traffic in the City: pedestrian traffic, cycle traffic, and train traffic. To be objective, if you mean motor vehicle traffic, then say motor vehicle traffic. If you mean all the types of traffic, then say traffic.

And this…

Promoting alternative modes of transportation is generally considered a good thing at the City. However, the word alternative begs the question, “Alternative to what?” The assumption is alternative to automobiles. Alternative also implies that these alternative modes are nontraditional or nonconventional which is not the case with the pedestrian, cycle, nor transit modes.

And finally, this goodie:

when we discuss protecting land for a right of
way for a road, the intent is not to shield the land from harm, but to construct a road over it.

The full document is available as a PDF download.


  1. We have been saying "active transportation" instead of "alternative" when we're talking about cycling and walking.

  2. We have been saying "active transportation" instead of "alternative" when we're talking about cycling and walking.

  3. …interesting points & perspective…time to "modern up"…

    …& siouxgeonz…great phrase: "active transportation"…no doubt…

  4. …interesting points & perspective…time to "modern up"……& siouxgeonz…great phrase: "active transportation"…no doubt…

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