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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ray LaHood Continues to Defend Bicycles

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who suffered a torrent of criticism from a host of road users this month after declaring ¨the end of favoring motorized transportion at the expense of non-motorized transportation¨, has defended his new bicycle policy in a recent blog post.

¨We know that 90 percent of the people are not going to be cycling to work or around town. But that opportunity and that kind of alternative is something people have said they want....We know that making biking and walking safer creates more livable communities. It makes Americans healthier at a time when the US military has indicated that 27% of recruits are too overweight to qualify for service. It lowers greenhouse gas emissions. It reduces our dependence on foreign oil...¨

Head over to the Transport Seretary´s Blog to read more. 

What do you think--does having a champion for Biking and Walking in the President´s cabinet make a difference for those of us biking and walking here in Tennessee?


  1. It certainly does not hurt. It remains to be seen if it really helps. Something to watch is the Federal Rural Safety initiave that comes directly from the FHWA and is directly responsible for the irresponsible rumbling of many roads. La Hood's comments so far speak mostly to urban issues as that is where the main benefit for bike/ped transportation is. As we have seen, rumbles like on HWY 100 in Nashville do affect urban cycling. Advocates have contacted state and federal officals at all levels so La Hood must be aware of this and it is something he can directly control.

  2. Excellent insight, Bruce. Bike advocacy is often very urban-centric, which poses a challenge to advocates in a largely rural state like TN.

    The good news, though, is that Mr. LaHood appears willing to listen and make progress for bicycle riders. A second piece of good news is, for better or worse, the population of bicycle riders in the US is largely a recreational population rather than a utilitarian population. This means that while many riders pass through the city on long rides, they often end up spending the majority of their time on roads like HWY 100. If the concerns of these recreational cyclists could be organized and presented to our contacts within TDOT and FDOT, they might prove compelling enough to create federal mandates which restricts rumbling that inhibits bicycle riding.

  3. Secretary LaHood's vision constitutes a sea change in transportation policy. The challenge is going to be lighting a fire under state and regional transportation planning organizations to implement these new insights. Leadership "from the top" is a way to set new direction but we are dealing with professionals who have been trained and imbued with principles based on the philosophy that efficient access to transportation corridors moves the economy... all else is "enhancement" and moves to last place priority. This is upside down thinking and needs to be challenged with an economics of social utility blended with concern for factors that improve the quality of life of a society.