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Sec. LaHood: "You have a full partner at the US DOT"

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 11th, 2009 at 5:42 am

U.S. Secretary of Transportation
Ray LaHood addressed the National
Bike Summit this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Ray LaHood, President Obama's Transportation Secretary kicked off the opening plenary at the National Bike Summit this morning.

LaHood, sporting the ubiquitous bike pin, made it clear that he symbolizes a new era of cooperation between the U.S. Department of Transportation and bike and active transportation advocates around the country. As I reported last night, LaHood is focused on the idea of "livable communities".

At the outset of his remarks, he said, "I want all of you to know you have a full partner at the US DOT in working toward livable communities". A key theme of LaHood's remarks was that he and President Obama will work hard help make communities nicer places to walk and bike. LaHood said that he and Obama, "Will work toward an America where bikes are recognized to coexist with other modes and to safely share our roads and bridges."

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"We are on the cusp of making more progress on these issues than ever before."
-- Transp. Sec. Ray LaHood

LaHood also shared a personal biking anecdote (which is standard for any politician speaking at the Summit). LaHood said he and his wife enjoy riding on the Rock Island Trail near his home in Peoria, Illinois. "It's a magnificent thing," he said, to see all the families and kids (with helmets on he was careful to mention).

One bright spot that did not go unnoticed by the crowd is that LaHood said he and other transportation officials plan to study European models of bike and walk-friendly facilities this spring (something Portland, New York City, and others have already been doing).

Earl Blumenauer (L) and Ray LaHood.

At the end of his speech, LaHood repeated his line about how the US DOT will be a "full partner to accomplish the things you want to do" and he added that, "We are on the cusp of making more progress on these issues than ever before."

There is a lot of optimism in the room this morning. Finally, after years of clamoring for attention, it seems like the issues many people at this Summit care about now have real traction at the highest levels of the American political establishment.


This story is part of our special 2009 National Bike Summit coverage. For more coverage, follow BikePortland on Twitter and browse the latest photos in our Bike Summit photo gallery.

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Comments
  • Marion March 11, 2009 at 6:14 am

    What a GREAT story to wake up to! I really hope that bikes as real transportation options spreads throughout the country and that real money is made available for this..
    Keep up the great work Jonathan!

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  • Cezar March 11, 2009 at 6:49 am

    This is amazing. I was skeptical of LaHood for a while, but this, and hopefully the follow up action, has made my day.

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  • Lance P. March 11, 2009 at 7:51 am

    I'm pretty shock, and pleased. As a kid, I grew up in IL. I never expected this from a Republican from central IL. Makes you dream... if he can change then maybe, just maybe, the rest of them can change as well.

    Great work.

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  • Coyote March 11, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Very encouraging :)

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  • Scott March 11, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Yes, it does sound good. I am looking forward to words being put into actions and $$.

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  • nuovorecord March 11, 2009 at 8:31 am

    If you ever doubt that your vote counts for something, please refer back to this post. :)

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  • [...] BikePortland's Jonathan Maus is down in D.C. today for the National Bike Summit, where Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gave the opening address this morning. From Maus's recap: [...]

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  • Paul Tay March 11, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Never hurts to have Mr. Earmark on your side, right?

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  • [...] BikePortland's Jonathan Maus is in D.C. today for the National Bike Summit, where Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gave the opening address this morning. From Maus's recap: [...]

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • old&slow March 11, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Hey Paul, yes it does and we are happy! Go back to researching whether Obama is a citizen and leave us alone.

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  • Early Man March 12, 2009 at 7:43 am

    After reading this, I am warming up to his ideas on a mileage tax to supplement the gas tax. Once people are plugging in their cars there will be fewer disincentives for driving. But if people are taxed for every mile they drive, something that is now only crudely accomplished with a gas tax, the only way to escape the tax man (listening Paul?) will be to ride a bike.

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  • [...] Secretary of Transportation, Ray Lahood. Secretary Lahood, wearing a bike button, started his speech by ensuring us that we “have a full partner at the US DOT in working toward livable [...]

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  • [...] is underway. I think I conveyed that excitement to the summit, judging by the early response (BikePortland.org, [...]

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  • [...] Obama just getting settled into the White House and his Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood riling up the crowd with promises of partnership. This year I hope we send a clear signal that we’re done with promises — it’s [...]

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