Six years ago former US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood surprised everyone at the closing reception of the 2010 National Bike Summit when he climbed up on a table and made a short but sweet speech.
“I’ve been all over America,” LaHood proclaimed, arms outstretched over 700 bike advocates. “People do want alternatives. They want out of their cars; they want out of congestion; they want to live in livable neighborhoods.”
The next morning he followed that up with a policy document that he said marked “the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”
Fast forward to Wednesday when current DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx came to Portland. He struck resonant chords about America’s failure to diversify our transportation system, but as evidenced by the FAST Act that passed under his watch, federal transportation funding and policy shows no signs of ending its long romance with the automobile.
So when I got the unexpected opportunity to ask Secretary Foxx a question, the first thing that popped into my head was that indelible image of Ray LaHood standing on a tabletop in that Senate ballroom on Capitol Hill. I wondered if Secretary Foxx had any insights into how we might usher in this era LaHood once spoke of.