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LaHood gets heat for bike stance (but truckers still like him)

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Headline on Huffington Post isn’t quite true.

An Associated Press story about US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood that’s making rounds on the Internet today (it’s running on Huffington Post and BusinessWeek.com just to name a few) says there’s “A backlash is brewing over his new bicycling policy.”

There might be a backlash from some who still don’t get it, but at least one voice of the trucking industry still thinks LaHood is great — bike policy and all.

The policy is question is LaHood’s recent proclamation that the Obama Administration will preside over the “end of favoring motorized transportation” over non-motorized modes.

It’s not surprising LaHood’s statements — especially on the heels of a DOT Secretary that didn’t even think bikeways should be considered transportation infrastructure — would ruffle some feathers. Here’s a snip from the AP story:

“The National Association of Manufacturers’ blog, Shopfloor.org, called the policy “dumb and irresponsible.”

“LaHood’s pedal parity is nonsensical for a modern industrial nation,”

…At a recent House hearing, Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, suggested jokingly to a Transportation Department official that one explanation for the new policy is that the secretary’s thinking has been clouded by drugs.

“Is that a typo?” LaTourette asked. “If it’s not a typo, is there still mandatory drug testing at the department?”

Unfortunately, what the AP writer didn’t mention is that America’s Trucking Newspaper, The Trucker, likes Mr. LaHood. The editor of that paper, Lyndon Finney, wrote an article after LaHood’s Bike Summit speech saying, “We like Ray LaHood.”

Finney gets it. He wrote that to “safely deliver those bicycles to ride over those new bike paths” highways and roads — the same highways and roads truckers use — must be available and in good condition.

Here’s the conclusion of Finney’s article:

“Don’t be surprised if someday you look up and see Ray LaHood beside a new highway, a new bike path, a new airport runway, a new walking trail in your community, peering down over those glasses, expounding on his passion for transportation.

We like Ray.”

We’ve heard all the anti-bike talking points many times before. But now, with the top transportation official in America saying the right things, those trash talkers seem to have a lot less power than they used to. It’s hardly time for bike advocates to despair. In fact, now is the time that LaHood and members of Congress need to hear that the American public has got their back on this. On that note, now would be a good time to head over to PeopleForBikes.org and make your voice heard.