Tag: DOT

A Distracting Euphemism from the Secretary of Transportation

Wall Street Journal editorial, “”Pedal Misapplications’: Ray LaHood recants on Toyota“:

A record $48.8 million in fines, nearly eight million vehicle recalls, hundreds of lawsuits and one humiliating set of Congressional grillings later, we finally learned Tuesday that Toyota cars can’t magically accelerate on their own. So what happened? “Pedal misapplications.”

Now there’s a euphemism for the bureaucratic ages. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood couldn’t bring himself to say “driver error” and he grew testy with a reporter who dared to put it so bluntly. But that’s what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, conducted over 10 months with the help of NASA engineers, concluded. Or to put it in plain English: Drivers, in moments of panic, sometimes mistake the accelerator for the brake.

That’s an uncomfortable finding for politicians, plaintiffs attorneys and “safety advocates” who have tried for years to squeeze money out of big auto makers, including Audi, Ford, General Motors and others.

The scientific study was only necessary because trial lawyers, politicians, “consumer” groups and media ginned up a public hysteria, the Journal observes, concluding: “Mr. LaHood played to those galleries at the time rather than contributing to public understanding, so we can understand why he prefers euphemisms now.”

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)


The Realities of the U.S. Economy

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing nearly 69 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.2 billion tons of freight in 2008. Motor carriers collected $660.3 billion, or 83.1 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

That’s from the American Trucking Associations, a paragraph in its latest news release on monthly freight statistics.

We post the numbers in an effort to restore economic reality to the debate over Transportation Secretary LaHood’s recent declaration that it’s now federal policy that there shall be no distinction between motorized and non-motorized traffic. The Associated Press covers the controversy today, “Transportation’s bicycle policy hits potholes,” citing Shopfloor’s objections to the policy.

The Secretary’s defenders, those who want more federal tax dollars to be spent on local bike and walking paths, have reacted to our posts by recasting his arguments, saying he just wants to take bike paths into consideration in planning, that he wants people to have alternatives to driving their own cars, etc.

But we were taking the Secretary at his word — and disagreeing with him. Here’s what Secretary LaHood wrote on his DOT blog, FastLane, in a March 15 post, “My view from atop the table at the National Bike Summit.

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.

His emphasis. The “atop the table” is a reference to his mounting a table in a Congressional meeting room to give remarks to bicycle activists at the “Bike Summit.” BikePortland.org reported “he was mobbed like a rockstar.”

“Sea change…. The end of favoring motorized transportation …”

In a subsequent, April 5, interview on Green, Inc., the Secretary expressed surprise that people had taken issue with his comments, saying, “My response is that this is what Americans want.” Yet there was not one word about freight in the interview. In speaking for the American public, the Secretary did not mention freight.

Thankfully, the objections seem to have registered. In an April 6 FastLane post, “Survey shows Americans want more mobility options–biking, walking, and transit should be in the mix,” Secretary LaHood added to the record.

People are always going to drive cars. And we are always going to rely on the hardworking trucking community to haul our nation’s freight. We’ve made a huge investment in our interstate highway system, and that’s not going away. We are going to continue maintaining that investment.

But we do have many modes of transportation in this country, many different ways of getting around. Why not make room at the table for bicycling and walking?

That’s not what the original policy pronouncement said, and bicycle advocates have been bellying up to the table for a long time. (One example, an April 14, 2009, Boston Globe article, “$80m in US funds for bike projects unspent in Mass.“)  And citing a public opinion survey by an advocacy group that wants to shift more taxpayer dollars to public transportation, Transportation for America, doesn’t persuade us that, in a policy vacuum, Americans would choose to spend more federal tax dollars on local bike lanes and community walking paths.

Still, if in his comments the Secretary has now framed the argument as, “The Administration believes it’s a good use of federal dollars to make infrastructure for non-motorized transportation a higher priority in planning and appropriations,” that’s a good debate to have.

In that debate, here’s something to remember.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing nearly 69 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.2 billion tons of freight in 2008. Motor carriers collected $660.3 billion, or 83.1 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)


Americans Also Want the Jobs that Come with Freight

Green, Inc., the New York Times blog, interviews Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, delving into the Secretary’s recent pronouncement that federal policy would make no distinctions between motorized and non-motorized transportation. From “Q&A: Transportation Secretary on Biking, Walking and ‘What Americans Want’”:

Q. Bicycling and walking advocates had a very positive reaction to the policy change. But here at Green Inc., we heard mostly from critics who said it showed you were “delusional” or reflective of some sort of “Maoist” bent. What’s your response to the response?

A. My response is that this is what Americans want. Americans want alternatives. People are always going to drive cars. We’re always going to have highways. We’ve made a huge investment in our interstate highway system. We’ll always continue to make sure that those investments in the highways are maintained.

But, what Americans want is to get out of their cars, and get out of congestion, and have opportunities for more transit, more light rail, more buses, and some communities are going to street cars. But many communities want the opportunity on the weekends and during the week to have the chance to bike to work, to bike to the store, to spend time with their family on a bike.

So, this is not just Ray LaHood’s agenda, this is the American agenda that the American people want for alternatives to the automobile.

In the entire interview, there is not a single mention of “freight.” The words “truck” and “trucking” do not appear.

What Americans want right now is jobs, the creation of which requires the efficient movement of freight on trucks.  Secretary LaHood’s expressed vision of transportation priorities just doesn’t seem to recognize that economic reality.

P.S. Kudos to Green, Inc. for covering this issue. The Drudge Report linked to its previous story on March 26 with a headline, “War on Cars? Obama Transportation Sec.: ‘This is the end of favoring motorized transportation’…,” certainly driving a lot of traffic to Shopfloor’s coverage of the issue, as well.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)


Controversy of Pedal Parity Gaining a Little More Coverage

Glad to see the Green, Inc., blog of The New York Times report on the uproar, but more importantly, on the policy implications of Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood’s recent pronouncement there would be no distinction between motorized and non-motorized traffic. It’s a fair report, “Transportation Department Embraces Bikes and Business Groups Cry Foul,” that highlights an exchange from a House Appropriations hearing last week prompted by comments from Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH):

“If we’re going to spend $1 million on a road, we’re not going to have half of it go to a bike lane, and half of it go to cars?” [LaTourette] asked, according to a transcript of the hearing.

“My interpretation of that would be equal in the eyes of policymakers as what is the expenditure you make, what is the benefit you get,” responded Roy Kienitz, D.O.T.’s under secretary for policy. “And if the freight project offers the best bang, great, but if the bike project offers a good bang, great for them.”

“I don’t even understand how you get a bang for the buck out of a bicycle project,” Mr. LaTourette subsequently commented. “I mean what job is going to be created by having a bike lane?”

CNS News also reported on Secretary LaHood’s remarks and the reaction, “Obama Transportation Secretary: ‘This Is the End of Favoring Motorized Transportation at the Expense of Non-Motorized’.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 1.0/5 (1 vote cast)


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.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)


A Manufacturing Blog

  • Categories

  • Connect With Manufacturers

            
  • Blogroll