Secretary Foxx Pledges to Make Bike/Ped Safety a Priority

Pedestrian crash statistics aren’t just numbers to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. He himself was the victim of one of those crashes once, while out jogging. “I got lucky,” he told a packed room at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board today. “But there are lots of people out there that aren’t so lucky.”

Sec. Anthony Foxx announced his transportation priorities today, including an increased focus on safety for modes that historically get ignored. Photo by Nancy Pierce, ## Business Journal##
Sec. Anthony Foxx announced his transportation priorities today, including an increased focus on safety for modes that historically get ignored. Photo by Nancy Pierce, ## Business Journal##

He said he saw an uptick in the number of pedestrians and bicyclists injured on the roads while he was mayor of Charlotte — and that these numbers are trending upward not just in that city, but around the country. “So over my tenure as secretary of transportation you can expect me to focus some attention on pedestrian and bicycle safety,” he said.

TRB is a major event that draws several thousand transportation professionals and academics from around the world.

Foxx said that after a recent airplane trip, his 9-year-old daughter brought him her list of transportation priorities (including bigger airplane bathrooms and no ear popping) and he figured if his daughter had already announced her transportation priorities, maybe he should do the same.

One of those priorities is to “look out for modes that traditionally don’t get much attention” like bicycling and walking.

The secretary highlighted equity not just among modes, but among people of different incomes. He said transportation should connect everyone, no matter where they live, to the 21st century economy:

I happen to know what happens when that doesn’t happen. Growing up in my hometown of Charlotte, I saw the indent of a highway loop that separated one part of the city from its central business district, and another highway project that divided a neighborhood in half, creating more stress on already stressed communities.

Foxx also highlighted the power of transportation to shape our communities. “I don’t think transportation should just help us get places better,” he said. “It should help us make places better — and help improve the quality of life of people all across our country.”

Foxx announced that he plans to develop an integrated national transportation plan. He said that coming to Washington from Charlotte, he was surprised how atomized the modes were at the agency level. “When you’re in a city, people move fluidly from all these systems,” he said. “They’re on a sidewalk, they get in a car; they get in a car, they get on a train; they take the train to get on a bus; they take the bus to the airport to get on a plane.”

But in Washington, those modes are siloed into different agencies, with each one looking out for itself. On the ground, he said, people experience transportation as one interconnected, intermodal system. He wants his national plan to integrate those modes at the federal level, too.

It would have been impossible for a secretary of transportation to make a major address without noting the funding crisis facing the sector. He said that starting today, U.S. DOT will be posting on its website “exactly” how much money the Highway Trust Fund has left — “exactly” being in quotes because the number will only be updated monthly. Foxx said every month, when they share that number with Congress, they’ll share it with the American people too — “until the fund runs out, or until it can sustain itself.”

He said he’s optimistic about a solution. He mentioned that President Obama has proposed to fund transportation with the proceeds from corporate tax reform, Rep. Earl Blumenauer has offered a bill to raise the gas tax, and Sen. Barbara Boxer has an idea for a wholesale oil fee, and several other senators are searching for other solutions. With House Transportation Committee Chair Bill Shuster yesterday affirming his desire to get a new transportation reauthorization passed before the August recess this year — with time to spare before the current one expires September 30 — we’ll see sooner than later how this debate shapes up.

23 thoughts on Secretary Foxx Pledges to Make Bike/Ped Safety a Priority

  1. Lots of pro-transit/bike/ped people are car enthusiasts, and I don’t think that’s such a horrible thing. It’s when your enthusiasm has negative policy implications that things become problematic. I’m actually much more concerned that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a federal organization, loves cars than that the Transportation Secretary, an individual, does.

  2. NICE!!! Shame I missed his talk at TRB.

    BTW, you can be a car and a bike and walking enthusiast. Cars are a tool like many others and can be used appropriately or abused. Liking cars doesn’t make you evil or wrong.

  3. Yet livable streets advocates are often derisively dismissed as “car haters.” Not only does the movement not hate cars, but plenty of its members actually have an affinity for them (while still recognizing their costs and limitations).

  4. Fund transportation through corporate tax reform? Why not fund it though a tax on pet food? He is towing the company line which no educated person can defend. I would hope that every single
    person at the lunch laughe out loud when he made that statement.

  5. Just thought of a better funding mechanism…$.05 national tax on plastic bags used at grocery stores. Reduce waste and fund transportation at the same time.

  6. Corporations depend on transportation to move goods, provide services, and even bring workers to their workplaces. Unless you think there is a big underclass of people riding dogsleds to work, pet food has little to do with corporate wellbeing.

  7. I just point out that I’m more pro-car than them, since I take the time to do what they can’t be bothered to do: recognize how cars can be an efficient part of the modal mix. That applies to buses, trains, planes, and bikes too.

  8. …and they move those goods using diesel fuel…that is a direct connection. Repatriating international corporate tax receipts to fund a trail in Ohio or a bridge in Oregon is not the way to go.

  9. Goods (and services and labor) move by rail, roads, water, and air. Since those things are all maintained with varying levels of public investment, ostensibly for the benefit of commerce, I see no reason why corporate tax receipts, repatriated or not, shouldn’t be part of the funding mix paying for them.

    Besides, it’s unlikely you have this expectation of a “direct connection” between corporate taxes and education or defense or policing or any other government function. .

  10. Any other government function? My real estate taxes pay for fire, EMS, education, trash pick up, etc. My water bill pays for potable water and sewer. Yes, I do expect a direct connection as do many other people. Gas tax pays for transportation. Simple. Direct. Defensible.

  11. There would seem to be less of a connection between real estate and education than there is between transportation and commerce.

    Well, no problem for me, but you’re demanding a mighty big gas tax increase….

  12. We really shouldn’t be tying individual taxes to individual programs. It’s really pretty awful that Social Security and Medicare are funded this way. If these things are worth doing as a nation, then they’re worth spending from the general fund (whether that means increasing debt or decreasing savings). If there’s a tax that is worth imposing for other reasons, then it shouldn’t be tied to a specific spending program.

    The only reason we should have government “user fees” is when it’s basically a government replacement of a potentially privately-supplied service that would otherwise turn into a natural monopoly, like local utilities, or perhaps the interstate highway system. (We can claim that the gas tax is a user fee, but until it approaches levels equal to the harm caused by burning gasoline in our cities, it makes sense to think of it as an undersized Pigovian tax, rather than an actual fee for the use of the highways.)

  13. If you owned a house and had children you would better understand the direct connection. It is a service I pay for because of the county I live in and the quality I am willing to pay for.

    Repatriating corporate tax receipts is smoke and mirrors at its best.

  14. As if you know anything about me, but that may as well say: “If you owned a tennis court and had a puppy, you could play a piano.”

    You may arbitrarily be willing to accept it, but your children’s need for an education is not impacted by and probably does not impact the value of your property. Corporations actually depend on transportation – directly.

  15. Okay, here is yer maths applied to 2012 consumption: 10 cents × 366 million gallons/day × 365 days/year = ~$13.4 billion

    That’s about what we get if every gallon of gasoline sold in the USA contributes ten more cents in tax revenue. What exactly does that do?

  16. My children’s need for an education is not affected by property values. Property values are affected by the need for a good education system/school. Look at home values in areas based upon the success of their schools. Better schools = higher property values.

    Corporations do depend on transportation. They pay real estate taxes for the buildings they occupy and fuel taxes for the transportation they use.

  17. Uhhh… It will fund things like the transportation system in this country? Maintenance. New transit systems. New bike lanes. Little things like that.

  18. With $120,449,431 thousand of user fees collected ($35,106,629 thousand in the form of gas taxes) and $194,864,330 thousand of funds spent on the highway system, I’m not sure what kind of magic you expect from another $13,400,000 thousand dollars. [Highway Statistics 2011 was the latest complete set I could find.]

    It would appear you need to demand more than another 50 cents/gallon just to close that gap and break even. Even then, gasoline taxes don’t even relate directly to the use of highways either, as drivers on local streets are buying gas and not getting the benefit of it.

    Anyway, why should bike lanes and transit be paid for from gasoline user fees? I’d be much happier if gasoline user fees (or tolls or road pricing or something) simply covered the full cost of driving.

  19. My apologies. Specificity is needed. Foxx was referring to federal funding and my comment on $.10 increase per gallon of gas was also referring to federal spending. Thus, an extra $13.4 billion is apprixinately a 20% increase in federal spending…the point of the article. The numbers you reference include state and local. The extra federal $ is plenty to shore up the HTF.

    And, the amount of federal money spent on bike lanes and trails is so small, I say give them a little more if it will make them stop complaining. They are part of a transportation system.

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