Over the last few weeks, Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation (and a former Republican Congressman, incidentally), has been expressing his vigorous support for alternatives to car culture. Okay, so it’s not policy on par with the passage of the Health Care Bill, but it’s pretty thrilling to hear this sort of commitment and enthusiasm on such a simple (yet profound!) shift in how we get around.
The DoT released a statement in mid-March. It may be wonky (it is a policy paper) but it says all the right things:
Transportation agencies should give the same priority to walking and bicycling as is given to other transportation modes. Walking and bicycling should not be an afterthought in roadway design.
Then, on the DoT’s official blog, LaHood makes it plain:
Today, I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.
If you’re really curious and excited about the Obama Administration’s support for alternative transportation and livable streets, I recommend this video of LaHood proclaiming his views from atop a table at the 10th Annual National Bike Summit in DC earlier this month. You really get the impression he believes that more walking and biking paths and better public transportation can and will improve life in America.
Let’s rally behind LaHood’s support for safer, smarter alternatives to American car culture! Send an e-mail to your elected officials and to your state Dept. of Transportation. Maybe add a link to that policy paper, since it urges state and local governments to follow its lead. Whether you support more public transit, better bike paths, cleaner air or energy independence (or you just feel that the Obama Administration’s finally on the good foot and want to help out) you can help LaHood make our cities better places to live.
There are also a number of ways to get involved on the local level, with organizations that are doing great work; Livable Streets in NYC, the Streetcar movement in Cincinnati, Bike Portland and the San Francisco Bike Collation are just a few.