LaHood Kicks Off National Bike Summit

On the first night of the National Bike Summit, Secretary Ray LaHood told an enormous hotel ballroom filled with cycling advocates about his childhood riding bikes in Peoria, Illinois and reminded them that they need to work harder than ever to convince Congress to support cycling.

Sec. LaHood immediately after addressing the Bike Summit. Photo by Clarence Eckerson.

Last year, he captivated the Summit crowd with his famous “Tabletop Speech” and his declaration that “this is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”

Tonight, League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke introduced LaHood with the high praise, “He talks about bikes – not just with us – but with other people too!”

LaHood encouraged the attendees, who will be going to Capitol Hill to lobby their representatives on Thursday, to “talk to your member of Congress about the importance of making communities cycle-friendly.” He reminded them that Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette went from ridiculing cycling to supporting it after hearing from committed advocates. (LaHood was polite enough to not mention LaTourette by name, but everyone in the room knew who he was talking about.)

“I want you to work hard on your members of Congress,” LaHood exhorted the crowd. “We really need your help more now than, maybe, ever before. Because you know that a new crowd is in town and they have a little different agenda and it’s being played out in a way that maybe doesn’t reflect the kind of values many of us believe in.”

LaHood gets a standing ovation at the National Bike Summit. Photo by Clarence Eckerson.

He didn’t talk much about the “big, bold” transportation plan proposed by “that fella I work for” (President Obama), other than asking attendees to “charge up to Capitol Hill” and push members to support cycling.

LaHood bolstered his own cred with the room full of cyclists by telling stories of how he and his wife go cycling on the C&O Canal trail every weekend (though I think he meant the Capital Crescent), and recounting his own early years riding a Schwinn all around town, and how he bought bikes for his four kids and his nine grandkids to make sure cycling was part of their lives.

“You have a full partner – many more than one partner – at DOT,” he told them.

After LaHood’s speech, participants migrated a few blocks away for a reception honoring Bike Pittsburgh as the Advocacy Organization of the Year, Jackie Douglas of Boston’s LivableStreets as Advocate of the Year, the New Belgium Brewing Company as the Business Advocate of the Year, the Michigan Complete Streets Coalition as Winning Campaign of the Year, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition for Best Practices, the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition’s Stephanie Routh for the Susie Stephens Joyful Enthusiasm Award, and the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling got the award for Innovation.

Tomorrow, the Bike League will announce this year’s Bicycle Friendly Businesses and Universities (a new category). NACTO will release its Urban Bikeway Design Guide, written to bring bicycle innovations long ignored by AASHTO and the FHWA into roadway design. And NYCDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, seemingly unfazed after being named in a lawsuit by anti-bike-lane plaintiffs yesterday, will address the gathering, along with Congressional Bike Caucus founder Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. A representative from the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Campaign will be the lunchtime keynote.

7 thoughts on LaHood Kicks Off National Bike Summit

  1. Whoa, the NACTO bit got snuck in there. This is HUGE news for biking in the US. Finally, we have official design guideline for serious effective bicycle facilities, similar to those in Europe. Now, any city official, engineer, and planner, interested in creating good bicycle facilities has a standard to reference. It’s easy to access for anyone online, easily comprehensible to nearly anyone, and describes how to create effective bicycle facilities.

  2. I’m continually pleased with Secretary LaHood’s approach to improving safety throughout the transportation sector. Whether he’s talking about distracted driving or bicycle safety, he’s been a fantastic Transportation Secretary for safety on the country’s streets and highways.

  3. LazyReader, unfortunately Cato doesn’t allow comments on their blog; too bad.

    Interesting how much bike/walk/public transit increases if you look at “Portland city, Oregon”:

    transit walk bike car
    2005 13.3 4.3 3.5 72.8
    2006 12.6 5.3 6.0 71.1
    2007 11.2 4.4 3.9 73.4
    2008 12.6 5.3 6.0 68.8
    2009 11.5 5.6 5.8 70.1

    instead of “Portland, OR–WA Urbanized Area” (which O’Toole cites):

    transit walk bike car
    2005 7.6 2.8 1.5 82.2
    2006 7.6 3.2 1.8 81.2
    2007 6.5 2.8 1.8 82.6
    2008 7.6 3.5 2.4 79.9
    2009 7.2 3.3 2.5 80.3

    Although note that car-driving percentage goes down in both, and walking and biking go up in both. Must be all that coercion!

  4. Not that much of a differnece. Despite those five years of gas prices swinging up or down. So, assume if gas costs did double, then shouldn’t we see transit double for our transportation. Well no. Twice of barely anything is still barely anything. DON’T take this the wrong way, I have nothing against biking. While the number of Portlanders who bicycle to work has definitely increased, the number who take transit has not. The number of Portland-area residents alone; who say they usually bicycle to work grew from about 6,800 to 15,900. But the number who say they take transit to work declined from 58,600 to 57,900. The number who go to work by car (not counting taxis) grew from 664,000 to over 730,000. This means that Portland roads have about 60,000 more cars during rush hour, but the region has put most of its transportation dollars into light rail and streetcars that carry no more people.

    LaHood also fails to distinguish between transportation people want to use and probably need. He implies that, if someone wants to take a streetcar or light rail to work, all other taxpayers are obligated to subsidize them. Fares are not even going to cover the operating costs of these new rail projects.

    The assumption is we’ll respond to higher fuel prices by driving less. Instead, most Americans are likely to buy more fuel-efficient cars or reduce other travel expenses by keeping cars a little longer. If we drive more, pollution will increase, right; Wrong. Americans drove 2.5 times as much in 2007 than they did in 1970, but automobile pollution has been reduced by as much as two-thirds (new technology such as cheap polymers and nano membranes or reactive filters replacing expensive platinum as a source for catalytic converters which will drive down auto emissions ever further) and overall fuel performance of the auto fleet today is 41 percent greater than back then.

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