Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Flawed Logic 

This kind of thinking has no place in PR. The idea is that if we build cities that had no need for cars, people wouldn't use them. It's as if a car is a sad necessity. That, however, is not true. People choose to use cars because they like them, and they get into long lines in traffic jams because their preference for driving displaces their choice of mass transit commuting. There are limits, of course, such as gas prices, and there is a segment of the population which prefers mass transit (I'm one.), but that segment is not enough to get rid of the need for highways.

In PR we need to accept reality as we find it and not as we wish it to be because that is the basis for effective communication. You start with the audience's assumption and bring them through persuasion to your point of view. Assuming people will leave their cars willingly is a planner's ideal, but not reality without disincentives that make driving difficult. The "Car Culture" in America was driven by millions of individuals who discovered a new freedom of mobility that previous modes of transportation lacked. That desire for freedom is still there, and there is something fundamental about it. There are traffic jams the world over whether from cars, motorbikes or bicycles. We need to start with individual preference and find how to motivate the person and not "the public."


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