Ray LaHood at Bike Summit, photo credit Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland
This writer didn't expect much from Ray Lahood, calling him the "Congressman from Caterpillar" and suspecting that he would tend to favor the car and the big roads that they ride on over alternate forms of transport. I was wrong; I learn from Bike Portland that he has radically changed America's transportation policies with his statement:
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.
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.
The key recommendations in the new United States Department of Transportation Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations, that will apply to all projects that receive federal funding (which is most of them):
Transportation agencies and local communities should go beyond minimum design standards and requirements to create safe, attractive, sustainable, accessible, and convenient bicycling and walking networks. Such actions should include:
Considering walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes: The primary goal of a transportation system is to safely and efficiently move people and goods. Walking and bicycling are efficient transportation modes for most short trips and, where convenient intermodal systems exist, these nonmotorized trips can easily be linked with transit to significantly increase trip distance. Because of the benefits they provide, 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.
The policy concludes:
Increased commitment to and investment in bicycle facilities and walking networks can help meet goals for cleaner, healthier air; less congested roadways; and more livable, safe, cost-efficient communities.
It is about time.