(Photos © J. Maus)
At the National Bike Summit’s Congressional Reception held tonight on Capitol Hill, US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stepped onto a table and praised hundreds of advocates for their hard work. LaHood’s speech was short (in length and on substance), but he more than made up for it with an enthusiastic, off-the-cuff delivery.
Here’s a transcript of what he said:
“What an effort a year makes huh? All of the work all of you have been doing for so long has paid huge huge dividends. People get it. People want to live in livable communities. People want streetcars that are made in Portland, Oregon. People want walking paths, biking paths, and opportunities for families to really do the things they do best — which is to hang together and have fun… And you all created an opportunity for America with all of your hard work.
I really came here just to say thank you to all of you for hanging in there with us. You all have made a big difference. Our whole livable community program… The President has included money in his next year’s budget for it; we’re collaborating with HUD, we’re going to put affordable housing next to walking paths and biking paths!
I’ve been all over America, and where I’ve been in America I’ve been very proud to talk about the fact that people do want alternatives. They want out of their cars; they want out of congestion; they want to live in livable neighhoods. And we would not be where we’re at today without you…. I’m very, very grateful!”
After he spoke, Bikes Belong executive director Tim Blumenthal looked out at the crowd and said, “What a euphoric moment for bicycling!”
Congressman Earl Blumenauer was also in attendance. He praised LaHood, saying he’s, “A man who has been pushing back the forces of darkness on the Hill.”
When LaHood tried to leave, he was mobbed like a rockstar. People crowded around, wanting to take a photo with him and shake his hand. It was a feeling of mutual gratitude, and perhaps the defining moment of the 10th annual National Bike Summit.