Sarah Goodyear has a terrific piece in the Atlantic Cities headlined “How to Make Transit (and Biking and Walking) Sexy.”
She cites the work of experts in the field who say the automotive industry has for too long owned the words with which they made us fall in love with the car. Transit’s ad pitch? It's efficient, sustainable and good for you.
So are prunes.
She refers to the advocacy by urban designer Darrin Nordahl, who reasons in his new e-book from Island Press, “Making Transit Fun! How to Entice Motorists from Their Cars (and onto Their Feet, a Bike, or Bus),” that transit’s champions should stop trying to appeal to our rational side, since we swerve away from that whenever we get a whim to -- or a craving for pleasure.
She quotes him:
“If people behaved entirely rationally, we would have foregone our cars long ago. … Against sound reasons of safety, environmental health, and personal wealth, we still drive. People simply love their cars. And as we all know, love and reason are like oil and water….
“What has become very clear in the automotive world is the power positive emotion wields over a person’s choice. While joy seems to be a dominant word in the language of carmakers, the transit industry often focuses on words such as function, usefulness, safety, convenience, and accessibility. These are all important words, no doubt. But what are lacking in the transit vocabulary are nouns of positive emotion: delight, allure, pleasure, exhilaration, and compulsion.”
Another good point -- which should be obvious, but public transit, remember, spends other people's money, not its own -- is that public transit officials should be advocating more creatively, using a business model to drum up business... such as finding out what would make people who have options choose to take a bus or other transit.You can read the entire article here.
It makes me realize that the green lifestyle overall could do with better pitchmen.
Instead of saying we need to sacrifice, that we can do with less and that it is virtuous to reuse that aluminum foil one more time, the green message should be that it’s fun and cool to hop the bus with your canvas produce bags, that your laundry smells and feels so much better when it's hung outside, that it’s graceful, even beautiful to pedal a bike (whereas drivers look so clumsy and yesterday) and that reducing energy use can make you feel sooo sooo good... like being the master of your own domain.