Have a Question for Secretary LaHood? Ask It Here.

Last spring, Ray LaHood’s office approached Streetsblog seeking reader questions for the transportation secretary’s monthly video blog series, On the Go With Ray LaHood. His aides have repeatedly told me that of all the blogs and organizations that got a similar shot, Streetsblog readers were the most engaged and asked the most insightful questions. LaHood wrote a guest post for Streetsblog to accompany the video of his answers.

So, less than a year later, the secretary is knocking at our door again, asking for your thoughts and questions. Pull no punches, people.

You can submit your questions as a comment to this post. Or you can post them on the secretary’s Facebook page, using the #q4ray hashtag on Twitter, or by leaving a comment on the Fast Lane blog. Whichever method you choose, do it by May 10, when the question period ends.

LaHood will select a few questions to answer in the video, and a few more that he’ll address in a guest blog post here.

  • KillMoto

    My question for Mr. Secretary: 
    “Roadway deaths are the top killer of healthy Americans.  Motor vehicle killings of cyclists and pedestrians are on the rise.  Stricter enforcement of existing laws might help – but only once someone is hurt or killed.  Proper roadway design (i.e., Complete Streets, Road Diets”) can help reverse this trend, but will take decades to implement, and only after we find the will and the money.  The best way to reduce roadway deaths is to prevent them. 

    Mister Secretary, given that driving is a privilege not a right, to what extent will driverless cars and vehicle to vehicle (V2V) systems help reduce deaths of vulnerable citizens?  Can controls be implemented in cars that actually prevent deadly reckless driving – speeding, running red lights, etc.?  What would Congress have to do to ensure the rights of people to life trumps the perceived right of a motorist to speed, or to hit a person and drive away anonymously?”

  • Jesse Greene

    Nice, KillMoto.  I was in the middle of writing a very similar question when you beat me to it.

    I would like to add one question to KillMoto’s: 
    What role does the government (at any level – not just federal) have in changing the public’s perception of the streets from a place that is the exclusive domain of cars to public space that should accommodate everyone’s needs?  So, short of system-wide changes in cars and street design (which will take time and money to implement), how do we just get people to behave more responsibly in their cars?  I.e., drive as if it is a privilege and not a right? Which would mean things like respecting the speed limit, giving cyclists enough room when they pass, not honking at cyclists, not racing through yellow lights, etc…  

  • Anonymous

    Do you think LA’s Antonio Villaraigosa will like your choice in office furniture, or will he re design the office when he is appointed to replace you after the upcoming presidential election?

  • Anonymous

    In light of the President’s goal to develop modern high-speed rail, why hasn’t the FRA updated its rules? Many of their regulations date back to the steam era, and are no longer applicable to 21st century passenger rail. 

    In particular, Europe and Japan updated their regulations to permit the lighter high-speed trains to operate on the conventional tracks. The FRA only allows that under special waiver. This is a barrier not just for “true” HSR, but also Amtrak and commuter rail agencies.

  • Anonymous

    Amtrak really needs to reform its bicycle policies. Many routes don’t allow bikes, except if they are packaged in a box. And even on trains that do have racks, bicyclists are getting bumped from otherwise empty trains, just because the racks are full.

    Amtrak is also hostile to the idea of secure bike parking at stations, which they regard as a terrorist threat.

  • Stephen Smith

    I second the Drunk Engineer’s question about the FRA, especially with regards to commuter trains. Does the DOT and FRA see safety regulation reform – enough to allow foreign designs that have been proven safe abroad to be used “off the shelf” on American tracks, that is, without significant (and costly!) modification – on the horizon?

  • Katie Matchett

    There seems to be an attitude, at least among some in the federal government, that pedestrian safety and walkability are “local” issues that should be addressed at the city/county level. What role do you think the federal government should play in addressing pedestrian rights, safety, and travel–particularly when it comes to funding?

    Katie Matchett

  • KillMoto

    Question: “The Federal Government can compel cities and states to do things that will make streets safer.  You can withhold transportation money from localities that fail to meaningfully investigate and prosecute vehicular homicides.  
    What is keeping you from doing that, given that motor vehicles kill more Americans under age 30 than any other killer?”

  • KillMoto

    Question: “The Federal Government is the sole regulator of the telecommunications industry, and is uniquely poised to use telecom regs to make streets safer.  How?  By requiring cell phone companies to publish cell phone activity that is time proximate to an automobile wreck.  Doing so will (1) dissuade some people from using a phone while driving, and that is a good thing, and (2) make it easy for police and private investigators to look into possible contributing factors leading to a collision. To mitigate privacy concerns, (1) the government can make waiving of phone activity records a condition of roadway use (“don’t want to surrender phone records?  Get a bus pass!”), (2) can limit what is published to, say the time and duration of calls within 10 minutes of the collision/time of in/out text message in same timeframe.  Number called/texted would remain private but subject to subpoena.  We can do this.  We should do this.  Mister Secretary, my question is – why don’t we do this?”

  • Streetsman

    Two for Ray here:

    1. It seems to me it is far too easy to obtain and especially to renew driver licenses in the United States, and requirements may vary across state lines. Have you considered adopting national standards for driver education and testing?


    2. I have observed that some cities like London have had considerable success advancing “complete streets” and “active design” agendas by having health agencies take the lead, given missions of reducing driving-related obesity, asthma rates, and crash injuries/fatalities. Are you now or have you considered partnering with HHS on major programs targeted at increasing walking and cycling or making conditions for doing so safer?

  • Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    What are you gonna do after you leave your job?  Will you continue to stay in the transportation sector?

  • http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/legsregs/directives/notices/n4510743t1.htm We tax-payers spend $220 million a year on railroad crossing safety equipment. The railroads are experts at wasting these funds —overcharges- stealing OUR equipment etc…so no new crossings ever get the proper safety equipment. This is not MURDER by private railroads because?

  • Joe B

    American car companies are currently building cars, designed to be used on roads that you oversee, with computer screens that can browse the internet built into the dashboard. Even with (weak) safeguards built in, these computer systems contribute to the normalization of distracted driving in our culture. Why have you allowed these cars to be operated on our roads, and what will you be doing to ensure that they are not operated on our roads in the future?

  • MarkB

    One out of every five Amtrak passengers is a California rider, and California is home to the #2, 3, and 5 busiest routes in the nation. Despite this, Amtrak management continues to act as if its name is the Northeast Corridor Railroad Passenger Corporation, not the National Railroad Passenger Corporation. Not helping matters, the Amtrak board of directors hasn’t had a Westerner on it for quite a while.

    President Obama recently nominated former U.S. Rep. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke to the Amtrak board. She has no railroad industry experience. She is not an expert on transportation infrastructure. She is not an expert on transportation economics. She appears to have nothing in her CV that would enable her to be an effective, independent board member. This appointment appears to be an opportunity lost.

    Mr. Secretary, how can California and the Western U.S. get the attention and resources we deserve? And how can we get it when the (finally!) Western member of the board is a patronage appointment?


    attn/sec of transp mr ray lahood/a great number of us are working to bring psgr rail from Portland Maine to Montreal Canada going west on the Geneese & Wyoming (St Lawrence & Atlantic RR line) note-this would connect with the already Amtrak Downeaster trains from Portland Maine to Boston Ma/ might you be able to help us fund this worthy project!/Don at Caboose03581@hotmail.com

  • Joseph Musco

    The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed 23 years ago. Today, legacy rail stations in places like Chicago and New York are still largely inaccessible. What can be done to encourage urban transit agencies to make access a priority beyond bare technical compliance with the ADA?


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