Brad Aaron: An Appreciation

brad_waves.jpgIf you read Streetsblog regularly, you know something’s been missing the last few weeks. Our most tenacious voice for a rational, effective legal system to keep city streets safe from dangerous drivers has been absent.

Brad Aaron stepped down as deputy editor earlier this month, but you’ll be seeing his byline here again before long. After decompressing down South for July and August (note: it’s hotter in NYC right now than Georgia), Brad will be back as a contributor, covering stories for Streetsblog while following a few other journalistic pursuits.

So this is no time for a eulogy, but I would like to submit a few words of appreciation for Brad and his service as a Streetsblog editor.

Brad has written about every type of transportation story under the sun for Streetsblog. When I came on at the beginning of 2008, he was adept at pulling out the weak points in legislators’ excuses for opposing congestion pricing. As our eyes and ears in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx, he stayed on top of the Yankee Stadium parking scandal and was there for the launch of Select Bus Service on Fordham Road.

But Brad’s also got an undeniable specialty — the traffic justice beat. His inner sense of how the rules of the road should be enforced and applied is unswerving and incredibly strong. I can’t think of a better term for it than "moral clarity," though I know he’ll object to the connotations. Brad writes about the preventable loss of life on our streets as an ongoing transgression against human dignity and ethical standards of behavior. A lot of his best work has helped explain why our legal system consistently fails to protect or provide justice for victims of traffic violence.

Before Brad came to Streetsblog, he founded and ran a weekly paper in Athens, Georgia. Now that he won’t be with us every day, I’m going to miss his editorial eye and knack for sharp headlines. A little bit of background on how the blog operates: Almost all the content we post runs through more than one set of eyes before we publish it. Headlines, in many cases, aren’t written by the person with the byline. My favorite headline penned by Brad, attached to a post with my name on it, has to be this one from 2008, about a lowpoint in Anthony Weiner’s posturing on transit policy.

Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this vintage Ad Nauseam post. Something about the kicker made me laugh until I had tears streaming down my face. Thanks Brad.

  • Brad shows that reporting chops, advocacy journalism, and integrity can all reside in one person. I look forward to reading more of his work.

  • vnm

    Agreed. Brad, thank you for all that you did to help make this site great.

  • Ben’s lovely and deserved tribute to Brad speaks volumes about both of them. Bravo!

  • Get some rest, Brad! Looking forward to more contributions.

  • Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    This is a perfect photo for a tribute like this. Because you really can’t say goodbye when Brad is saying “hello” to you in the photo!

  • We’ll be missing Brad here in Paris too. More than once his reporting had meaning for people and groups well beyong New York, and we were pleased to be able to publish some of these more universal pieces in Keep pedaling Brad. Eric Britton

  • It’s people like Brad, Ben and others on this site that make confident that good public interest journalism is not dead. Our new media revolution has allowed voices like Brad’s to create whole new narratives based on facts that we all stare at in plain sight everyday and other facts that need serious digging to bring to light. Since its inception, Streetsblog has done a lot to reset the agenda on transportation policy.

  • I meant voices like Brad…and Ben, but we’ll save that for another time.

  • Steve Davis

    Brad will definitely be missed. I actually remember going to him when I was a 1st year journalism student at the University of Georgia to try and freelance for Flagpole — the alt-weekly he helped produce in Athens. I got a few story assignments from him to “test me out” but ended up writing about music mostly. (Who can turn down free CDs when they’re 21?)

    Even in those days when I was reading Jane Jacobs for the first time and starting to get interested in the built environment and transportation, I remember Brad’s coverage of adding bike lanes in the city, construction on sidewalks making life dangerous for pedestrians, and other livable streets-related efforts — though nobody called it that at the time — in his weekly “CIty Dope” column.

    He’s been at this for a long time, and his experience and insight and commitment to the the truth will be missed.