Transportation Parity: The Sun Notes Secretary LaHood’s Remarks

By March 17, 2010Infrastructure

When a Cabinet secretary declares a “sea change” in national transportation and infrastructure policy, raising non-motorized transportation to the same priority level as motorized transportation, you’d expect intense coverage from the media. Right?

But as previously noted, reporting on Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s embrace of transportation equivalency last week has been limited to bicycle advocacy sites. One exception has been, a trade publication/website.

Today, a breakthrough! The Baltimore Sun took note. That is, the Sun’s transportation reporter, Michael Dresser, took note in a post on his “Getting There” blog. The post, “LaHood elevates biking, walking to parity with cars“:

Call it sacrilege. Call it radical. But U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has actually elevated the  bicycle and  the human foot to parity with the automobile in federal transportation policy.

On Monday, LaHood announced what could be — if it is backed with actual dollars-and-cents policy — a sea change from the auto-centric bias that has prevailed in federal transportation policy since World War II.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Dresser reports that the The WashCycle blog has called LaHood’s statement “simply the strongest statement of support for prioritizing bicycling and walking ever to come from a sitting secretary of transportation.”

We don’t call it sacrilege, but radical is a fair description. It is indeed a sea change in federal transportation policy that could have profound implications for the U.S. economy and the 80 percent of freight that moves by truck. The Sun is the first mainstream media outfit to recognize, however briefly, the potential impact. Hope it’s not the last.

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