Monday, March 15, 2010

Secretary LaHood announces new Federal bike policy

Today Secretary Ray LaHood announced new Federal policy recommendations to state DOT's to ensure that bicyclists and pedestrians are treated as equals with other transportation modes. "This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized." The policy recommends that "bicyclists and pedestrians of all abilities should be involved throughout the planning process, should not be adversely affected by other transportation projects, and should be able to track annual obligations and expenditures on non-motorized transportation facilities."

From the blog entry My view from atop the table at the National Bike Summit
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.

We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

To set this approach in motion, we have formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities:

* Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
* Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
* Go beyond minimum design standards.
* Collect data on walking and biking trips.
* Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
* Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
* Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.

Now, this is a start, but it's an important start. These initial steps forward will help us move forward even further.
Here is a video clip of Secretary LaHood's remarks at the closing reception at the National Bike Summit (from Streetsblog SF).


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Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's not just about moving people

Some people think that the only criteria for evaluating transportation projects should be "which strategies move the most people most effectively in most corridors." That's been the formula at the Federal Transit Authority as well, regardless of the effect of new projects on communities. Thanks to the new administration, that will change. According to a recent blog post by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Walking the walk; New transit action puts livability criteria squarely into the mix:
Look, everywhere I go, people tell me they want better transportation in their communities. They want the opportunity to leave their cars behind. To live near work and schools and good hospitals. And to enjoy clean, green neighborhoods. The old way of doing things just doesn't value what people want.

Now, the Recovery Act discretionary TIGER grants we announce soon will help some communities achieve these broader goals.

But if we’re serious--really serious--about creating livable communities built around good transportation, then our Federal Transit Administration needs to consider key livability factors when evaluating non-Recovery Act transit proposals. Factors like enivronmental benefits and economic development opportunities.

Unfortunately, FTA's flagship programs use cost and performance requirements that are too narrow to allow for weighing these livability factors.

So we are opening them up to a broader set of six performance criteria:
  • Economic development
  • Mobility improvements
  • Environmental benefits
  • Operating efficiencies
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Land use
See an earlier post about FTA's new guidelines regarding bicycle facilities within 3 miles of transit stations.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Secretary LaHood defends bicycle infrastructure funding

As we've noted in the past, Senator Coburn (R) of Oklahoma doesn't like bikes or bike infrastructure. He and Senator McCain tried to remove Transportation Enhancement funding from the upcoming Transportation bill. That move was soundly defeated as have all attempts to strip TE funding.

Most recently he singled out some bike projects that were funded by Recovery funds. It's refreshing to see that Transportation Secretary LaHood agrees we need better bike facilities. In a recent blog post Coburn Report dismisses Recovery-supported bike paths LaHood defends the Recovery spending:
"We've worked hard this year to get our Recover Act dollars out to the states quickly and effectively. Yes, some of those projects include bike paths, a key ingredient in our livability initiative to allow people to live, work, and get around without a car.

We don't call that waste; we call it progress."

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Transportation Secretary LaHood wants better bike facilities

Yesterday Transportation Secretary LaHood testified at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing entitled Transportation's Role in Climate Change and Reducing Greenhouse Gases. One of his key points is the need for providing better alternative transportation modes, including bicycling. In his blog he only mentioned bike paths but in his full testimony he mentions bike lanes:
  • We must take action to make all forms of transportation more fuel efficient while stepping up efforts to introduce low-carbon fuels and alternative power sources for all types of vehicles.
  • However, even if we were to achieve a 55 mile-per-gallon fuel efficiency standard in the coming years, carbon emission levels from transportation would still only decline modestly. We must implement policies and programs that reduce vehicle miles driven.
  • This means providing communities with additional transportation choices, such as light rail, fuel-efficient buses, and paths for pedestrians and bicycles that intersect with transit centers. These options will also reduce household transportation costs, strengthen local economies, lower traffic congestion, and reduce reliance on foreign oil.
  • Our strategy also calls for investing transportation dollars in coordination with housing and economic development. By doing so, we can promote strong communities with mixed-income housing located close to transit in walkable neighborhoods.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Interview with Transportation Secretary LaHood

The New York Times recently interviewed Secretary LaHood:
President Obama has talked about his desire to wean Americans off automobiles.What we've talked about is getting to a concept that we call livable communities, where people don't have to get in a car every day. You can use light rail, you can use buses, you can use walking paths, you can use your bike.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Transportation Secretary LaHood reaffirms support for bicycling on Earth Day

In his Earth Day post on the Dept. of Transportation blog, Bicycling is an important factor in less carbon-intensive commuting, Secretary LaHood reaffirms his support for bicycling as "an environmentally sound commuting option."

More importantly, he notes that:
The upcoming reauthorization of DOT's surface transportation programs provides an opportunity for us to feature bicycling as part of a new American mobility within livable communities. As I said today in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, this includes fostering communities where bicyclists feel both safe and welcome on the roadways. Bike-friendly development also has the potential to contribute significantly to the revitalization of downtown districts and offer an alternative to sprawl and automobile-focused commuting.

Earth Day is today, but we'll need the sustained engagement of bicycle commuters and their advocates in the weeks and months to come to help keep the wheels of bicycle-friendly legislation on the road. [Emphasis added].
Image of Secretary LaHood at Bike Summit, from Bike Portland.

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