How to Make Oral Comments at Local Public Meetings

I was recently talking with a NMA member who wanted to speak to his local transportation commission about the effects of Vision Zero on his community.  Even though he was nervous, he was determined to speak his mind and wanted a few pointers.  Preparing to speak up at a public open meeting is another great way to advocate for motorists’ rights.  But how do you prepare and get over your nervousness in public speaking especially if you have never done this sort of thing before?  One word:  PREPARATION!

WikiHow has a nice illustrated advice piece on just what to do and expect at speaking up at a local city council meeting.

Generally speaking, you will need to prepare about a two minute spoken comment for the local city council or transportation commission.

Research your topic, distill what you want to say and practice in front of a mirror if you need to help with your nerves.  This also allows you to become more confident and comfortable to carry your point across more easily.  I would also recommend speaking into a recording device to accurately time your comments plus listen for ease of flow and content.

Arrive at the meeting early because you will probably need to sign up or fill out a card indicating that you want to speak in the public comment section.

If they do not allow you to speak on your topic at that particular meeting, make sure you have a short written statement to turn in as directed.  I would recommend having this written statement anyway just in case you would like to give it for the public record.

When your name is called by the chair, come to the podium, adjust your mic for your height, take a deep breath and give your name and the area of town that you live in for the record.  Briefly thank the council or commission and then dive right into your points.  Use your own experience as a touchstone and state one to three facts about your point(s).  End strong and thank the council or commission again when finished.  Two minutes will go by fast so don’t waste a second.

Public speaking can be scary but if you are prepared, it will be a breeze and you might even want to do it again soon!  The most important thing is to be brave and just do it!

Here is a resource from the Seattle Sound Transit Commission on public commenting that you might find useful in your advocacy work for motorists’ rights.

If you plan to speak against a Vision Zero project in your city, here are some talking points to get you started taken from the NMA Streets That Work Initiative.

 

streets-that-work

 

Motorists deserve roads that not only work, but can also be put to work.  That means allowing people the freedom to travel to the destination of their choice when they want with the least amount of interference.  That is a fundamental principle of the American way of life.  It also means keeping roads open for the movement of goods and services that is essential for society as a whole.

Programs like Vision Zero are designed to severely limit motorized traffic in city centers, diminishing the mobility of drivers.  As noted in the NMA e-newsletter, The Consequences of Intolerance, “When one class of user in a balanced ecosystem wants to reshape the rules to suit its needs, giving little regard to the others who share the same environment, the equilibrium is upset.”  That imbalance is even more apparent when the dominant class, by virtue of sheer volume of participants, is being artificially restricted.

The National Motorists Association has launched a STREETS THAT WORK initiative designed to influence lawmakers and educate the public on the societal benefits of freedom of mobility.  The NMA initiative is the antidote for Vision Zero, which aspires by government mandate and at great cost – fiscally and in terms of personal autonomy – to reshape urban transportation.

STREETS THAT WORK advocates for:

  • Improved road safety that is realistic, fiscally sustainable, and doesn’t feel like a government-mandated social experiment
  • An end to arbitrary mobility restrictions on urban streets that will decrease personal transportation options while increasing travel times
  • One set of “rules of the road” for all users so that individual and shared responsibilities are clear to all
  • Intelligent placement of bicycle paths that complement rather than displace motorized traffic

Any questions about motorist advocacy, please feel free to contact me at nma@motorists.org.

Be safe and have fun driving!

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One Response to “How to Make Oral Comments at Local Public Meetings”

  1. DD says:

    We all just want a safe way to get around.

    Vision Zero is just a shared goal that we shouldn’t tolerate traffic deaths.

    We know that auto-oriented design is not fiscally responsible. It doesn’t pay for itself. Walkable, mixed use places are productive enough to pay for themselves.

    Moreover the lack of traffic safety design kills and maims so many of my patients every year.