Coming to Your Neigborhood

News is slowly seeping out about Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood’s announcement last month.  In his official blog he announced a “sea change” in how the Department of Transportation will fund future Federal transportation projects.  “This is the end [his emphasis] of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”  But wait, it gets even better:

“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.”

I can’t say how overjoyed I am about this announcement.  I am also somewhat gratified that not too many more people read the Secretary of Transportation’s blog than they do mine.  He wrote this on March 15th and it is only just now coming to people’s attention.  It just made an AP story that was published on Wednesday.  Wait, my blog has never made an AP story!  Maybe, I need to get one of those official blogs too?

In his blog he talks about attending last month’s National Bike Summit that was held in San Francisco.  In his blog he indicates that he had originally intended to make this policy announcement at the summit, but “The crowd’s enthusiasm was so contagious, the idea of introducing a major policy revision in that setting quickly evaporated.”  As the title of his post inferred, he still ended up taking ovations from atop a table.

Here is a summary of the key recommendations that the US Department of Transportation (DOT) is going to be making to the state’s 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 non-motorized facilities during maintenance projects.

This is only policy and not law.  It could last only as long as LaHood holds office.  Congress will decide how much money each state gets, but the US-DOT decides which of the many proposed projects gets funded.  I suggest that at their next meeting with representatives of US-DOT that the representatives of MODOT and IDOT askew their usual business casual attire and instead adopt bike shorts and colorful bike jerseys.  It couldn’t hurt.  😉

The preceeding photo is from this Easter’s car show.  This guy had a reproduction of a classic 1956 Schwinn.  In addition to white walls, it also had front wheel suspension.  Schwinn’s like this one were the original mountain bikes.  They were first used to climb and descend Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, California, by the likes of Gary Fisher.

I’m no Gary Fisher, I’m really not even a mountain biker, but like Gary Fisher, I was riding a Schwinn in the county of Mount Tamalpais in the sixties.  My Schwinn was nowhere as fancy as the one pictured above.  Mine was a beat-up secondhand bike, but it was new to me.  It was red and it was my first real bike.

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