In 2010, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood mounted a table at the National Bike Summit and proclaimed, “I’ve been all over America, and…people want alternatives. They want out of their cars, they want out of congestion, they want to live in… livable communities.” He added, to thunderous applause, “You’ve got a partner in Ray LaHood.”
Shortly thereafter he blogged, “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.”
Last night, LaHood addressed the same conference for his fifth and final time as DOT secretary. He echoed that sentiment: People across the country are hungry for safer streets for bicycling. He reflected on what he and the Obama administration had accomplished over the past four years, including awarding a record $3.8 billion of FHWA funding and $130 million in TIGER funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
But the secretary recognizes there is still more to be done. Bicyclists deaths grew by 9 percent from 2010 to 2011. And while LaHood is well known for his campaigns against unsafe behaviors like distracted driving, last night he called for increased, high-quality infrastructure to protect people who bike and prevent crashes.
LaHood told AASHTO last week that “DOT is looking to create a standard guide for how we will build modern streets that work for everyone who depends on them.” Last night, he told the crowd that DOT would hold two bike safety summits this spring, in which DOT will convene experts and advocates to get input into these new standards.
NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan followed LaHood. As the head of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, Sadik-Khan helped oversee the development of the Urban Bikeway Design Guide, which sets forth a well-conceived precedent for the feds to follow. She thanked LaHood heartily for his service and presented him with an honorary New York City street sign, and an offer to rename a real street after him. Maybe Prospect Park West, she joked, to the delight of the crowd.