LaHood statement marks “end of favoring motorized transportation”

“This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”
— US DOT Sec. Ray LaHood

US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced a new set of pro-bicycling and walking policy recommendations meant to inform transportation planning at the state and community level.

He announced them on his blog this morning, after the “dust settled” on his enthusiastic speech at the National Bike Summit Thursday night. Why didn’t he announce them in front of 700-plus bike advocates? “The crowd’s enthusiasm was so contagious,” he wrote, “the idea of introducing a major policy revision in that setting quickly evaporated.”

Here’s how Sec. LaHood introduces these policy revisions:

Today, I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.

We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

National Bike Summit-Lobby Day-4

Sec. LaHood (L) and Rep. Blumenauer
at the National Bike Summit.
(Photo © J. Maus)

And here are Sec. LaHood’s “key recommendations for state DOTs and communities”:

* Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
* Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
* Go beyond minimum design standards.
* Collect data on walking and biking trips.
* Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
* Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
* Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.

The official document behind Sec. LaHood’s recommendations has just been posted online and is titled, United States Department of Transportation Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations. The purpose of the memo is to officially amend the United States Code and the Code of Federal Regulations.

The summary of the revised policy statement, which hasn’t been updated in almost a decade, states:

“The new policy statement indicates the Department’s strong commitment to accommodating bicyclists and pedestrians as an integral part of the transportation system by: Ensuring that the accommodation of walking and biking is addressed throughout the planning process.”

About the new policy languange, Sec. LaHood says, “This is a start, but it’s an important start,” and he adds that, “These initial steps forward will help us move forward even further.”

Read the full policy statement on the Federal Highway Administration’s website.

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13 years ago

Inspiring words. I know that’s all they are at this point but I can’t help but feel like this is the beginning of some very real and awesome change on the hill. Way to be, Ray.

Allan Rudwick
13 years ago

i love how google is advertising their biking directions here 🙂

13 years ago

I wish Ray could reach down to my local level and give our local planners a good shake to get their head right.

13 years ago

Between Mr. LaHood and the New FCC™, I’m absolutely loving this Administration’s cabinet members.

Inspiring words, indeed. Best of luck, Mr. LaHood!

13 years ago

Just these words of intent make a great difference. Basically when planning roads and given two choices that are otherwise comparable, choose the one that does not inconvenience or endangers cyclists and pedestrians.
This will be a slow top down victory that will gradually push old thinking, “cars first”, out of government. Gradually, after years of better facilities, more tolerant attitudes will make cyclists and pedestrians feel safer on all roads.
Unfortunately, this could easily be many years down the road.

John Lascurettes
13 years ago

Props to the Blumenauer-E at the top of that speech. Earl is my hero.

13 years ago

WOW!!!! I like what I’m reading!

matt picio
13 years ago

Amos (#1) – The best part is, it’s not just words. Policy statements are binding, at least for the current administration. They set the tone for following legislation, lesser policy statements, and the framing and interpretation of existing policies, rules and regulations. This is a great start, and it has a greater effect on the landscape than many readers of this site will understand. It represents a sweeping change in direction, but as you said, it will depend on whether LaHood and those under him back this up with actions at the lower levels, and ultimately when Congress backs up what will hopefully become public policy with supplementary and supporting legislation.

This is more than I expected out of Washington, and I hope it truly is just the beginning.

13 years ago

All right people lets start sending those emails with the fed’s new policy statement.

rex burkholder
13 years ago

It took many years of effort to get the common sense approach to transportation heard and acted on at the federal level. Sec’y LaHood has also joined up with HUD and EPA to push a Sustainable Communities initiative that will reward Portland Metro type of planning that combines land use, community development and transportation.

It is nice to be around and still working on these issues 20 years after being one of a few lonely voices pushing bike lanes and bikes on transit.

13 years ago

wow, this is great news… I realize it will take years for people to change the way they think, but we have to start somewhere and this looks like it…

12 years ago

I approve. I approve a