Secretary Ray LaHood gave the keynote address Tuesday night at the National Bike Summit. Bicycle Retailer and Industry News has a good report on the evening’s activities at the Grand Hyatt, “Sec. LaHood Calls for Action.” Excerpt:
LaHood, 65, shared his long family history in cycling, which began when he was a young boy riding his Schwinn bike—calling it “the best-looking bike in the neighborhood”—around Peoria, Illinois. He reassured attendees that he continues to be a “full partner” and that cyclists can also continue to count on President Obama’s support.
“Most of you worked hard to get him elected and the president’s budget for 2012 shows that livable communities really is his vision,” he said.
That’s an unusually direct political appeal for a Cabinet secretary to make at an ostensibly non-political event.
Secretary LaHood elucidated the President’s agenda further in his post at the FastLane blog, “My message to the 2011 National Bike Summit: ‘We have work to do’.”
Now, the transportation budget President Obama proposed to Congress is a big, bold vision for the next generation of American transportation. And walkable, bikeable, livable communities are a central part of that vision. The President’s 2012 budget would boost funding for pedestrian and bike-friendly communities to $4.1 billion. And the Administration would like to see these essential resources included in the next six-year transportation legislation.
We thought the Administration was focused on jobs, economic growth and competitiveness, but instead we find that it has made “livable communities” a priority. And how, exactly, is urban development in Sheboygan, Montpelier or Corvallis a federal responsibility?
Bill Graves, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, issued a statement in February on the President’s budget and its lack of vision in the transportation infrastructure: “While very substantial increases in funding are proposed for high-speed passenger rail, transit, an infrastructure bank, and a ‘livability’ initiative, the proposal gives short shrift to our nation’s highways, which Americans overwhelmingly rely on for their daily transportation needs and goods movement.”
Indeed. As ATA reports: “Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 68 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 8.8 billion tons of freight in 2009. Motor carriers collected $544.4 billion, or 81.9 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes.”
You know what really makes all communities more livable? Safe and efficient transportation of freight.