I admittedly work in jargon hell. If there’s a way to say something that will make it more difficult to understand, we tend to say it that way. Not because we want to or because we’re stuffy or snooty but because there are so many acronyms in the government realm and so many requirements handed down from the federal government as to what we have to call our documents, etc.

We’re getting better at plain-speak though. It’s something we talk about anytime we develop a new document or other materials that the public will see, because it’s not only alienating and confusing to everyday people, but policy-speak can detract from the message you’re trying to convey.

The folks at Seattle
Neighborhood Greenways, a coalition of safe street community groups, have come up with a way to be less “wonky” in communicating with citizens about transportation matters. Their method centers around people
and their experiences—not infrastructure, modes or buzzwords. And they’ve put together a cheat sheet of some of the “substitution” words they use to convey their messages. Take a look and tell me if you think this would help you understand more easily when talking transportation.

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