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I think Mr. Townsend has hereby revealed himself to be a non-expert in transportation policy. Media should seek more knowledgeable and intelligent sources. Any idiot can spout inflammatory nonsense. That doesn't make it newsworthy.

Eh, Townsend's job is to represent an Automobile Club, so it's not really that surprising. His demeanor in doing so his unbecoming.

I think speed cameras are a joke too. But I really don't think they're about a war on cars. I think it would be more like a war on taxpayers. I really don't think the ones on 395 (just past ramp coming from NY Ave, eastbound right past the bridge), on 295 (before Nats stadium behind a pillar) or a handful of others really serve much purpose of protecting the safety pedestrians or cyclists like myself given we're not allowed on those highways. Alas, I don't think they're anti-car either since I'm positive the city will eventually find some way to try to charge us cyclists (you guys may laugh, but just watch 5 years from now where we need some bs sticker or something to be eligible to use cycletracks).

My big gripe with AAA/Townsend is their whining about things like the cycletracks. More cyclists=less drivers=faster commuter for current drivers. Not to mention that accidents/motorcades aside, the biggest causes of traffic backups tend to be people illegally parked/stopped and people blocking the box. How about a war on dumbass drivers? Imagine how much faster people would get home.

If I didn't get the free tows and have one old vehicle we use on occassion, I would just cut up the AAA card and mail it to Townsend.

That was quite an article--Townsend comes across as being completely mental. Maybe that's what a career defending a toxic product does to you. And I liked Wash's defense of Alpert in the comments.

I think that one reason the press goes to John Townsend for quotes is that he is one of them.

He has not spent his whole carreer AAA, but rather has spent his whole career either as a member of the press or as a press officer for various government agencies and elected officials. I think he was at DOE before AAA.

I never understood why he was AAA's representative to the speed-camera committee. As a press officer, it is to be expected that he would put press interviews above negotiations. I wonder whether AAA really understood the extent to which that committee was meant to be a true task force rather than a stakeholder feedback meeting. AAA has a good lobbyists on safety bills who probably would have been better suited to the task.

That said, I have always found Mr. Townsend to be a kind, self-effacting man similar to how the article portrays him at the end. He obviously is not always careful about what he says.

Terrific article.

Wow. I thought you were exaggerating when you said Townsend said DA was retarded and compared him to the Klan. Nope. He did all right.

@T-There are several other organizations that you can use for the occasional tow, often including your own insurance. My family just switched to Better World Club. It cost less, we get the same or better coverage, and we're not supporting Townsend's salary.

What's the most effective way to get AAA to change its tone? Call them and complain about Townsend and Anderson? Write letters to the editor? Any other ideas?

The parking minimums thing mentioned in the article is an understandable issue. It's more the way people handle it that is intolerable. I know a fellow who owns 3 cars, parks 2 in the street and 1 in his driveway, and believes the street in front of his house is owned by him because he pays property taxes on the land adjacent to it, and if anybody parks there, he will take his cars and squeeze them in so tight that they won't be able to get out. He'll then come out and berate them for parking in his spot as they struggle to get out.

Is he from South Philly?

Makes sense that he's a car-commuter who works in DC and lives in PG County. I'd be pissed off all the time, too.

The most subversive thing about the L Street bike lane is that it's so nice that now everyone wants one for their city. What's next, bike sharing in every city?

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