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I’m feeling these lessons from writing about transportation

John Bennett, a long-time mobility advocate in Savannah, published a reflection on writing about transportation. His lessons are partially about writing and advocacy, and partially about the causes themselves. For example, he notes that he faced criticism from people who see bicycles as a special interest that’s misaligned with the public good, and he explains how that’s untrue:

Over the years I’ve received emails and letters accusing me of being a lobbyist for a special interest group and that I care only about people who ride bikes.

The truth is when a street is made safer for people who ride bikes, it becomes safer for everyone who uses it, including people who walk, people who take the bus, people who ride scooters and skateboards, and people who use wheelchairs and other assistive devices. And people who drive.

Since I’m a blogger who writes about bicycle and pedestrian issues myself, I found I have a lot in common with his philosophy. These lines in particular stood out to me:

I’m sometimes asked if it is difficult to find fresh angles on a fairly narrow topic, column after column. The truth is it’s not a narrow topic at all, again, as my editor astutely predicted.

Still, I’ve read back through the archives and I will admit I’ve repeated myself more often than I would like. On the flipside I am able to detect persistent themes that remain relevant.

When I began Bike Walk Life, I had a general idea of what I wanted this blog to look like. I knew it was going to be a narrow topic, and I planned on repeating persistent themes. And, since this is an internet blog with no editor, I have the freedom to repeat myself ad nauseam. I believe that this is not only reasonable, but ideal. It hones the arguments and adapts them to changing climates and current events. Certain themes, like the dignity of people on foot, are timeless and deserve constant repetition.

In his article, Bennett recalls that once Chatham County’s single voting ballot drop box was located in a place dangerous to anyone outside of a car. He adds: "Pretty depressing, huh? The good news is it’s not all bad news. Had it been, I couldn’t have continued writing this column for nine and a half years.” I’m optimistic that I’ll have plenty of good news to write about in the future, too.

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