New Policy Elevates Bicycle Transport

From a Speech by Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood

Today, I want to announce a sea change. 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.


Recommendations to States and Communities

Ray Lahood speaks to the League of American Bicyclists. Photo: Jeffrey Martin

We are integrating the needs of

bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

To set this approach in motion, we have formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities:

•    Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
•    Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
•    Go beyond minimum design standards.
•    Collect data on walking and biking trips.
•    Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
•    Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
•    Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.

Now, this is a start, but it’s an important start. These initial steps forward will help us move forward even further.

Progress on the Bike Front

And the Obama Administration hasn’t been sitting idle on the bike front this past year either.

Just last month through our TIGER program, we funded teapartybooks admajor bicycle projects in Indianapolis and in the Philadelphia-Camden-Trenton region.

And our ongoing inter-agency DOT-EPA-HUD partnership on sustainable communities actively encourages planning for walkability and bikability. We think livability means giving folks the flexibility to choose their own mobility.

Look, bike projects are relatively fast and inexpensive to build and are environmentally sustainable; they reduce travel costs, dramatically improve safety and public health, and reconnect citizens with their communities.
So, thank you to the League of American Bicyclists and all those who gave me such a raucous welcome the other night.

Last year’s summit was something; this year was something else. I can’t even imagine what next year’s gathering will produce, but I know I want to be part of it. Φ

This is taken from Secretary Lahood’s recent speech to the League of American Bicyclists on March 15, 2010. Watch a video of the speech here.

2 comments for “New Policy Elevates Bicycle Transport

  1. craig
    June 4, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood’s speech was amazingly progressive. Hopefully, it will end up in model legislation (and funding) for state and community transportation systems.

    Some day, history will look back upon our era and determine that we were frigging crazy for the risks we routinely take in our daily lives.

    For decades I’ve shuddered each time I’ve driven along the so-called bicycle right of ways to either side of coastal highway-101, which narrow to mere inches –at (of course) places which present the most danger and the least escape. Why do we create posted highway “bike paths” which consist of little more than a painted white stripe, encouraging people to balance a bike on a few inches of pavement, where huge trucks and RVs pass within a couple feet at highway speeds? (15 states require 3 feet of clearance. Oregon does not! There has to be some ugly stats concerning our 2-wheeled human road kill.)

    Right: there are many places where it would be prohibitively expensive to provide an adequate bicycle right of way, but where it would also be unconscionable to ban access via bicycles and other human powered transportation.

    So okay, let’s start by taking the Secretary at his implied word: a better approximation of parity among motor vehicles, pedestrians, and human powered vehicles.

    It’s well understood by road/traffic engineers that relative speed differences among vehicles is more dangerous than absolute speed. That’s why freeways have minimum posted speeds along with prohibitions against pedestrian and non-motorized traffic. Just as it’s universal practice to require traffic to slow to (hopefully) non-lethal speeds where and when school children are present, I suggest that it would similarly make sense to require traffic to not only allow 3 feet of clearance, but to travel at parkway speed (35 MPH) whenever and wherever pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles are encountered on the same span of pavement.

    Let me anticipate a major objection by pointing out that highway carrying capacity has little to do with highway speed –as long as it’s still moving. Let’s assume the “worst”: that there’d be so damned many bicycles on the road that the average highway speed ends up at 50% of what it use to be.

    Safe driving practice requires us to use the “3 second rule” in following the vehicle ahead. Consequently, over the same period of time, any given stretch of highway will move exactly as many vehicles from point A to point B at (say) 30 MPH as it would at 60 MPH –but with three main differences.

    1) The same trip per driver would take twice as long, but since the time available for a vacation or weekend trip is constant —

    2) National recreational mileage would drop significantly (along with MPG fuel consumption and foreign oil imports), plus: it would be pleasant to drive with your windows down. (Daily commute distances would also be vastly reduced for the same reason.)

    3) Theoretically, per-mile traffic injuries and fatalities would be 75% less, even assuming that just as many collisions with other cars, bicycles and pedestrians would occur (which they obviously would not).

    Think about it. We pass an average of 15,000 miles under our butts each year simply because we can. If speed limits were all-around doubled, we’d cover 30,000 miles, use 4 times as much gas, quadruple the road kill –and go on debating about whether or not bottled water is good for us.

  2. Pingback: Goozle Zone

Leave a Reply