Language matters. A lot of the language we at Bike Walk Nebraska use, centers around the people and organizations in our community, and we want to emphasize the importance of using person-first language.
Person-first language, as the name suggests, acknowledges the person first and humanizes the situation or context in which they’re involved. This type of language is important to use in order to establish and maintain a dialogue of dignity and respect.
Part of our work includes encouraging safety measures within the state’s infrastructure and policy to protect all people on the roads. With that, we collect, analyze, and report on crashes and fatalities experienced by people commuting in ways alternative to a car. Using person-first language in these situations is incredibly vital to acknowledging the human effects of human errors. It also begins to make the conversation less about cars vs bikes, and more about ensuring the safety and comfort of real, living, breathing, and loving people getting around on foot and bike.
Using person-first language in these situations is incredibly vital to acknowledging the human effects of human errors. It also begins to make the conversation less about cars vs bikes, and more about ensuring the safety and comfort of real, living, breathing, and loving people getting around on foot and bike.
Removing human autonomy from the conversation by saying things like “An accident occurred when a car struck a pedestrian,” removes the human error from the situation, allowing for crashes to be considered accidents and not preventable circumstances.
In 2023, Nebraska has seen 11 pedestrian fatalities and 5 cyclist fatalities thus far. These were Nebraska residents that had families, friends, lives before being killed as the result of a crash. These people deserve to be spoken about with dignity, especially surrounding a delicate and unfortunate situation, and that means humanizing them in the way we tell their story.
We recommend using person-first language, especially in crash reporting, in order to make sure that the people in our community are seen as valued and not a simple statistic, headline, or news story. Changing how we talk about things is small, but foundational to more significant and impactful conversations.
Join us in engaging the community with more intention and compassion in our words and actions.