Four House Republicans Join Dems in Hailing LaHood’s Support for Bike-Ped

Four House Republicans yesterday joined 24 Democratic colleagues in a letter praising Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for his public support of federal bicycling and pedestrian investment -- a stance that had generated some bad blood between LaHood and the trucking industry.

4462647793_972ecc74dc.jpgRep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), left, in the "congressional ride" during March's National Bike Summit. (Photo: bikeleague via Flickr)

GOP Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), Michael McCaul (TX), Jack Kingston (GA), and Steven LaTourette (OH) signed on to the letter, which was sent to LaHood late yesterday in advance of today's Bike to Work Day events in the capital.

Referencing LaHood's March policy statement urging state and local transportation planners to put cyclists and pedestrians on the same footing as drivers in designing new infrastructure, the lawmakers wrote:

We recognize, and appreciate, that your statement was not about providing equal amounts of funding to all forms of transportation, or prioritizing bicycling and walking over other transportation modes such as trucking, freight or public transit. Instead, your commitment to consider all modes clarified that to give citizens a choice, rather than forcing them into their car, we must make sure that bicycling and walking are as safe and convenient as other modes.

LaTourette's endorsement of that federal embrace of bicycling and pedestrian access is particularly notable. He initially echoed the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Trucking Association in chiding LaHood for the non-binding bike-ped statement, wondering "what job is going to be created" by bike lanes before later walking back his remarks.

The House GOP quartet's show of force for non-motorized transport projects also separates them from a recent Senate Republican report that criticized bike-ped stimulus spending as a waste of taxpayer funds.

A complete copy of the letter, also signed by House transport committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), is available after the jump.

Dear Secretary LaHood:

We would like to thank you for the Department of Transportation’s release of the “Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation, Regulations, and Recommendations” announced on March 15. We support the policy statement’s declaration that bicycling and walking are efficient modes of transportation that have an important positive impact on our communities.

We were pleased to see the policy statement’s acknowledgment of bicycling and walking as an important part of the transportation system. Bicycling and walking serve as cost-effective solutions to many of the serious issues facing our transportation system, including traffic congestion, funding concerns and air pollution. Moreover, as 40 percent of trips taken in our country are two miles or less, bicycling and walking should play an important role in providing transportation options in our small towns, suburbs and cities.

We recognize, and appreciate, that your statement was not about providing equal amounts of funding to all forms of transportation, or prioritizing bicycling and walking over other transportation modes such as trucking, freight or public transit. Instead, your commitment to consider all modes clarified that to give citizens a choice, rather than forcing them into their car, we must make sure that bicycling and walking are as safe and convenient as other modes.

We also appreciate the recognition of bicycling and walking as useful tools to address many other issues facing our nation such as increased oil consumption, air pollution, and our growing national debt. Investments in bicycling and walking have been shown to bring significant economic development to communities across the country, and to help families lower their own transportation costs. We believe that communities should be able to move forward with projects they feel are most advantageous to them, including bicycle facilities and pedestrian infrastructure.

We hope to continue to see bicycling and walking as a central part of your livability initiative. Thank you for all of your hard work on this issue. We look forward to working with you in the future.