Taking a Secretary’s Statements Seriously

The Trucker.com trade publication is the only non-advocate website we’ve found that has reported on Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood’s declaration before bicycle advocates last week of a “sea change” in federal policy: “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.” (See Shopfloor post, “Embracing Bicycles at Expense of Freight, Jobs, Reality.”)

The Trucker report included many details about LaHood’s comments, “LaHood says DOT ending favoring motorized transportation over non-motorized,” starting by setting the scene:

LaHood’s surprise appearance at the bikers summit and his subsequent remarks drew praise from those in attendance, who reportedly swarmed the secretary “like a rock star” when he tried to leave.

To make sure he could be seen, LaHood hopped up on a desk in the Senate hearing room where the group was meeting.

The Trucker also noted the Secretary’s comments on his DOT blog, The Fast Lane.

Included in the report were comments from an unnamed DOT spokesman, who dodged the Trucker’s question (which we’ve bolded):

“Secretary LaHood believes the way we design our communities has a huge impact on our citizens’ economic, physical and social wellbeing,” a DOT spokesman said when asked if LaHood’s new directive meant that much-needed highway infrastructure needs might be sidetracked in favor of bike paths. “Many Americans live in neighborhoods without access to public transportation or sidewalks. By focusing on livability, we can help transform the way transportation serves the American people, and create safer, healthier communities that provide access to economic opportunities.”

The spokesman noted that LaHood presently is presiding over the “most ambitious infrastructure investment program in more than half a century, the Economic Recovery Act.”

So far, the spokesman said, the DOT has obligated $37.8 billion for 14,011 highway, road, transit, bridge and airport construction projects in 53 U.S. states and territories.

“Secretary LaHood has always said that rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and the job creation that comes with that are among his primary goals,” the spokesman said.

When a Cabinet secretary announces a “sea change” in federal policy that expressly rejects the economic priority of freight transportation — 80 percent of which moves by truck — it warrants wide attention, not just from Congress as we suggested in our earlier post, but also from major, national media outlets.

Leave a Reply