Friday, April 30, 2010

US DOT: 'What We Know About Bike Infrastructure: People Want It'

United States Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, posted an extremely on-point entry on his official blog earlier this week. Since declaring in September that 'distracted driving is a menace to society,' Secretary LaHood has continued to impress me. Now he's championing bike infrastructure. I hope local and state agencies follow suit (assuming that the infrastructure is well-planned, unlike bike lanes striped in door zones). This is a breath of fresh air. Thank you, Secretary LaHood, for listening. Here's his entry copy/pasted verbatim:

What we know about bike infrastructure: people want it

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.

Bicycle Commuters 2

They said it in a recent study by Transportation For America. They said it last week in Tupelo and Hernando, Mississippi. They've been saying it in Portland, Oregon, for years. They're saying it in Washington, DC.

Portland Bike Plan
They said it after an interview I gave in the New York Times earlier this month. And New York bicyclists have said it loudly and clearly with their pedals, increasing their numbers by 28% in the last year alone according to a study by Transportation Alternatives.

And in response to an All Things Considered interview, NPR listeners have been saying it over and over on the NPR website. You can listen to the NPR piece below:

Facebook profile pic On Facebook, I sometimes have trouble seeing my own wall posts because bicycling fans have been so busy posting their support for DOT's bicycle-pedestrian initiative in such strong numbers.

Lancearmtrong Twitter profile pic Even Lance Armstrong, America's 7-time Tour de France winner, has added his voice to the mix, urging his 2+ million Twitter followers to listen to the NPR story about bike infrastructure in America. Thanks, Lance!

Why devote resources to a transportation mode that fewer than 10% of the nation is using? Well, bike infrastructure is relatively inexpensive--particularly if you compare it to, say, adding a lane to an existing roadway. Now, imagine if those people who do bike around chose instead to make all of their trips in single-occupancy vehicles. Our already congested roadways would be brought to a halt.

Bike commuting

So, even for those folks who have no interest in bicycling, this relatively low investment actually pays dividends for those who still choose to drive. Everybody wins.

Bike Commuters And the fact is, as Washington, DC, DOT Director Gabe Klein noted on NPR, "We see a direct correlation between our investment in bike infrastructure and an uptick in usage. When you make it hassle-free and inexpensive for people to use a certain mode, they will use it."

I'll say it again--because I want my online friends in commercial trucking and the people who make their living behind the wheel, to know--we are not out to make their jobs any harder than they already are.

I know they're paying a lot of taxes to use the roads, and I appreciate that fact. But we're talking about making their jobs easier by taking vehicles off those roadways and easing congestion so the trucking community and bus and taxi drivers can deliver their goods and passengers more smoothly.

Look, in the 54 years since President Eisenhower launched the interstate system that connects America, we've committed almost all of our transportation resources to highways. Part of our commitment now should be to create alternatives to congestion.

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.

And it's what Americans have said they want.

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