Several dozen cyclists rode to U.S. DOT headquarters today to present Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood with a letter signed by hundreds of local bike-ped groups, hailing the former GOP congressman’s support for their cause during his first 16 months on the job.
"Americans want to get outdoors … they want opportunities to get out of congestion," LaHood told the assembled cyclists, some of whom joined him in donning brightly colored bike lapel pins to signify support for the Congressional Bike Caucus.
In addition to hailing the health benefits of bike-ped — LaHood said he has used the local Rock Island trail near his Peoria hometown "hundreds of times" — he also thanked the assembled advocates for serving as a counterweight to the criticism directed his way by the trucking industry after a March policy statement that endorsed putting cyclists and pedestrians on equal footing with drivers.
"We need to be promoting biking," the Cabinet member said, but that effort "does not take away from other forms of transportation."
The letter presented to LaHood, accompanied by a signed poster that the Washington Area Bicyclist Association compiled during last week’s Bike to Work Day events, praised the March policy statement on bike-ped but acknowledged its non-binding nature.
"We have a lot of work to do," wrote the letter’s signatory groups, which included America Bikes, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Transportation for America, and the National Complete Streets Coalition. The advocates continued:
We should start by
integrating policies that increase safety and accessibility for pedestrians and
bicyclists, including Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School, into federal
law so that new projects receiving DOT funds accommodate all users of the
road. We should also advocate funding for Active Transportation networks in
our cities, towns and metropolitan areas. We look
forward to working with you on a new surface transportation law that broadens transportation choices for all Americans … and introduces new benchmarks for our federal dollars, including those that will support biking and walking as equal modes of transportation.