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Friday Transportation Seminar: Words Matter

February 22, 2019 at 11:30 am - 1:00 pm

Transportation Seminar: Words Matter: Recognizing and Addressing Modal Assumptions to Shift Transportation Culture

Barb Chamberlain

Search #DriverNotCar or #CrashNotAccident on Twitter and you’ll find a vigorous discussion about the power of word choices to shape our understanding of what happens on the street and who’s responsible. When we directly examine and discuss the language we use, we acknowledge its power both to reflect existing attitudes and to shape developing attitudes. This presentation will uncover embedded biases or assumptions in common transportation terminology and provide tips and tools to help us broaden our inclusion of everyone we are supposed to serve as transportation professionals.

– Learn some simple tests to uncover modal bias in descriptions of projects, programs or activities
– Learn specific terms to use and to avoid to provide more clarity around who is–and who isn’t–affected by a transportation project or program
– Understand the importance of providing specifics and context, particularly around traffic collisions, to contribute to transportation literacy

Barb Chamberlain, Active Transportation Division Director, Washington Department of Transportation

Barb Chamberlain started March 1, 2017, as Director of the new Division of Active Transportation at WSDOT–a division created to reflect the agency’s commitment to multimodal transportation in the #1 Bicycle Friendly State. Barb previously served as the Executive Director of Washington Bikes and in 2015 was named Nonprofit Professional of the Year by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinators. Prior to working professionally in transportation she led communications and public affairs at Washington State University Spokane for nearly 15 years and served on a number of boards including the Spokane Regional Transportation Council and the Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board. She got her start as an active transportation volunteer working on the North Idaho Centennial Trail Committee, then spent four years in the Idaho state legislature, the youngest woman ever elected to both the House and Senate. Find Barb’s bike writing at bikestylelife.com; follow @barbchamberlain on Twitter for active transportation research, resources and commentary


PSU Karl Miller Center
615 SW Harrison St.
Portland, OR United States
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