Ray LaHood rocks Summit crowd with tabletop speech

US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood stands atop a table to address Summit attendees at the Congressional Reception held in a Senate ballroom on Capitol Hill.
(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:

National Bike Summit-Lobby Day-5

“Thank you!”

“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.


Bike Summit coverage sponsored by Planet Bike. More stories on our special coverage page.

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Daniel Ronan
Daniel Ronan
12 years ago

LaHood in the livable ‘hood!

hart
hart
12 years ago

Ray’s just admitting that citizens are far more effective than government, short and sweet, Ray!

Brent Hugh
12 years ago

“the defining moment of the 10th annual National Bike Summit”

Definitely.

JAT in Seattle
JAT in Seattle
12 years ago

Interesting (if simplistic) spin, hart (@2). Are you including corporations and suburban developers in that citizens family?

Because they’ve been very effective at selling the rest of us citizens the mess we find ourself in.

dsaxena
dsaxena
12 years ago

Damn, reading his speech seriously brought tears to my eyes. We are living in amazing times full of possibilities we couldn’t imagine a few years back!

middle of the road guy
middle of the road guy
12 years ago

Please note that LaHood is a republican congressman (from my home state of Illinois.)

All too often there is a liberal v. conservative bent in this forum……There are plenty of conservatives who bike commute and plenty of liberals who drive SUVs…..

I’s easy to make stereotypes….but sometimes reality indicates otherwise.

W in Dallas
12 years ago

Not just corporations and suburban developers. There are still plenty of counties, and municipalities that are fighting it tooth and nail.

While Dallas got federal funding for a streetcar line (yay!), just south of town in Ellis county they have been ticketing and ARRESTING a car-free commuter for the “crime” of riding his bike on a public street.

Ironically when he was arrested most recently, he was on his way home from fulfilling his civic duty serving on jury duty! (more info on his case here)

Hopefully our continued advocacy and will help folks see the light and make our streets and cities more livable.

matt picio
12 years ago

I think that La Hood (like all politicians) is still a little beholden to special interests, but he does seem to get it, and has been quite effective at opening the door for alternatives to the automobile. He’s certainly not perfect, but he’s definitely someone who is intelligent, considers the options, and can see which way the wind is blowing. As long as our mutual interests remain aligned, I think he’s one of the greatest allies in the administration for real and lasting change at the national level.

Michael
12 years ago

So I guess it remains to be seen whether the Obama administration will put it’s money where its mouth is. Will the federal DOT’s gigantic money hose get pointed in any direction other than a Cars First infrastructure philosophy?

JayS.
JayS.
12 years ago

” 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…”

I’m interested in bikes as transportation for my entire family more than (but not without) fun, this portion of his statement disheartens me.

Otherwise very positive.

damian
damian
12 years ago

There is hope. I sincerely believe he wants to change the direction of transportation. When you have the president and the secretary of transportation both pushing for active transportation things are going to happen. It’s not going to happen overnight. Even though they are big players, they know they can’t do alone. That’s why LaHood will get up on a table and say “thank you”.

gecko
gecko
12 years ago

This seems new for Ray LaHood but, it really seems that he is starting to get it.

It really has to sink in that transportation technology derivative of bicycles combined with modest electric powering can really change the way humans move around this planet as a complete sustainable solution.

This is extremely encouraging.