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

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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