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AAA Spokesman: Leading DC Urbanist “Retarded” and “Like the Klan”

10:41 AM EDT on April 19, 2013

Just a month ago, AAA released a heartwarming PSA reminding drivers that cyclists are people, before a crowd of hundreds of bike advocates at the National Bike Summit.

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At the time, we wondered whether AAA was simply embarking on a PR campaign, or if the nation's largest automotive club had really changed its ways. Would its regional branches back off campaigns against parking reform in Washington, DC, or three-foot passing laws in California?

Well, I think we have our answer now. In a recent article in the Washington City Paper, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend attacks David Alpert, founder of Greater Greater Washington, in unbelievable fashion. Network blog Beyond DC has this report:

AAA’s official company spokesman John Townsend says GGW’s David Alpert is a “nerd,” a “ninny,” is “developmentally retarded,” and is “like the Klan.”

If AAA thinks it’s good business practice for its spokespeople to make offensive personal attacks, then AAA isn’t a company I will ever have anything to do with. I don’t currently own a car, but someday I probably will. AAA won’t be my insurance partner when that day comes.

And in the mean time, if this is how AAA thinks and represents itself, guess how seriously I take their positions on transportation issues.

Will AAA stand behind Townsend and his childish behavior?

Keep in mind, Alpert is a guy who founded a tremendously successful local news site as a volunteer project and now contributes editorials semi-regularly at the Washington Post. One of these two men looks pretty foolish and it's not David Alpert.

In a recent post on GGW, the editorial team urged readers to move their business to the Better World Club, a Portland-based roadside support provider, which in the words of GGW writers "offers many of the same benefits as AAA, but without the disdain."

Elsewhere on the Network today: Global Site Plans outlines Miami 21, the city of Miami's plan to use form-based code to make the city more walkable and sustainable. The League of American Bicyclists explains how one member's suggestion helped launch the Bike-Friendly Communities program. And Human Transit says the way seats are configured in subway cars isn't just a matter of preference, it has real impacts on capacity and service quality.

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