Rep. Steve LaTourette Backpedals on Dismissive Cycling Remarks

Screen_shot_2010_04_16_at_9.24.42_AM.pngBig thanks to Streetsblog Network member Iowa Bike Blog for alerting us to a post on the website of Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-OH). You may remember that LaTourette caused a bit of a stir in the bicycling community last month with some remarks he made while questioning DOT officials last month about funding for bicycle infrastructure. According to reports, he said, among other things, ""What job is going to be created by having a bike lane?" and suggested in a jocular fashion that perhaps US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood was on drugs for thinking bike facilities should get substantial funding.

Well, apparently Rep. LaTourette got an earful from bike advocates who took issue with his comments. Here’s part of what he posted on his website:

As you may know, an online publication in March published a story about a congressional hearing that dealt with funding for the Department of Transportation (DOT). Having attended the hearing and asked several questions, I was more than a little shocked by what was written since it didn’t even come close to recapping the hearing. These hearings are always covered by the Washington press, yet this story seemed to be the only one to suggest I had some angry diatribe and odd vendetta against bike lanes.

While there was some levity in my questioning of a DOT Undersecretary at the hearing, at no point did I ridicule bicyclists, bike paths or bikes lanes. I was merely trying to clarify comments made by Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood in his blog about bike paths being “equal” to others modes of transportation, especially pertaining to funding and if the formula for doling out funding was changing.…

I regret the online story caused so much anxiety and that it made some of you question me. Nothing has changed my ardent support of bike trails, bike lanes and the right of cyclists to share the road.  This has been a lesson on the power of the Internet, and it sure has given me a new respect for the fierce advocacy from the cycling community. I hope this will clear up any misunderstandings, and please know I will continue to be a strong advocate on your behalf. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. 

Good work on the part of all those who called or e-mailed LaTourette to let him know what they thought about his dismissive attitude toward bike infrastructure. Now he knows someone is watching.

More from around the network: Reimagine an Urban Paradise has the sweet story of a man who botched a repair job on his car and ended up becoming a bike commuter as a result. Hub and Spokes posts on the prospects for streetcars in Minneapolis. And Utility Cycling has a good roundup of the best ways to carry stuff on your bike.

  • Larry Littlefield

    \”What job is going to be created by having a bike lane?\”

    The depends entirely on what the cyclists chooses to spend money on. The money saved by not spending on imported oil and additional health care.

    My guess — the jobs created, though unspecific, are more likely to be local than the jobs lost due to less spending on oil and autos.

  • Glenn

    Not surprisingly voters tend to get energized about \”Life and Death\” issues so the \”fierce advocacy from the cycling community\” is totally to be expected.

    All politicians should take note – cycling advocacy is about LIFE and DEATH. By the grace of good public policy and infrastructure we continue to ride.

  • What a great story. Glenn\’s absolutely right. The potential for cyclists, who as a general matter probably reflect the entire spectrum of political views, to mobilize effectively on bike-specific issues is simply awesome.

  • Clearly, the Representative suffers from LaTourette\’s Syndrome, an affliction affecting some politicians and ESPN sports commentators, which causes them to uncontrollably spout knee-jerk anti-bike comments that they later regret once the spasm has passed. Fortunately, with treatment and intervention from caring members of the cycling community, they can be helped, though a genuine cure seems unlikely.

  • Hangston Giles

    Representative LaTourette should not have backpedaled so soon. His initial comments were in fact on target. A great deal of money is currently being spent in order to accommodate small but noisy groups of bicyclists. Some of this it fine. In some areas it makes sense to create bicycle paths. However when bicycle advocates start demanding that hundreds of millions of dollars be spent building bridges for bicycles, and when they insist on inconveniencing and in some cases endangering 99% of bus and train riders by crowding their bicycles onto public conveyances, they cross the line. Bicyclists like to claim that they are loyal supporters of public transit. However their actions often serve to weaken public transit, thereby driving some would-be riders back to their automobiles, which helps no one.

    HG

  • Bolwerk

    Is it really necessary to say the guy backpedaled? It\’s not smart politicking. Even though he\’s surely an authoritarian thug (as evidenced by his membership in the Republikan Party), people shouldn\’t be automatically chastised for changing their minds.

  • skd

    LaTourette is an idiot and now he\’s trying to revise his remarks to suit the political power of bicyclists. Too late. If he truly was a bicycle advocate he wouldn\’t have said such stupid and inflammatory remarks. Ohio bicyclists should target LaTourette for termination in the next election. His original remarks identify him as a relic of the past. Get some new blood into Congress. A representative who will move Ohio and the nation into the future.

  • @bikinginla,

    I\’m claiming copyright on \”LaTourette\’s Syndrome,\” based on prior use (but great minds think alike).

    @Hangston Giles,

    Please explain how cyclists endanger 99% of bus and train riders. Your experience must be very different from mine, because I think it\’s more likely that the actions of automobile drivers would scare people back onto transit.

  • Hangston Giles:

    A lot of people bike in New York, where subways and busses are packed: bicycle infrastructure helps take pressure off of overcrowded public transit. Or so I thought. Maybe I am wrong though. Please do explain how \”99% of bus and train riders\” are endangered by bicyclists.

    And kindly tell about cyclists\’ demands that \”hundreds of millions of dollars be spent building bridges for bicycles\”

    thank you, David

  • Matt

    Steven LaTourette is not a highways-only guy. In fact he is a hero to many rail advocates. As past chairman of the House Rail Subcommittee, he stood up for rail passenger service and the freedom to choose train travel when the past administration was trying end service to most parts of the country.

  • Greg Raisman

    OK. If this guy hates bikes, he should at least shave his beard so he looks less like me!

  • Greg Raisman
  • Kevin Whited

    Eric McClure:

    I need to get your account number so I can send you money everytime I use “LaTourette’s Syndrome.” I laughed by a@# off and plan on using it whenever possible.

  • Kevin Whited

    BTW Greg, he really does look like you!

  • Susan Grant

    The bike riders \’conned\’ the federal government into allowing them to \’ride\’ on roads made for cars and trucks. In the state of Tennessee we have a lot of two lane roads with no bike lane, and these bike riders hold up traffic because these roads don\’t allow passing. This in itself causes anger and frustration by motorists who get behind a bike rider because they can\’t pass these idiots who seem to have a death wish of dying on their bike.LaHood should drop the idea of building a high speed rail system, and build bike trails that ARE NOT ON TWO LANE ROADS, and preferably on an old race track so the bikers will stay out of the way of traffic and off of OUR two lane country roads.

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