Could D.O.T. Secretary think bikes are for real?

I mentioned this on twitter last week, but I think it might be worth exploring in a little more depth here with our blog readers.

DOT Fastlane BlogThe US Department of Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood is blogging.

These days a blogging politico is no surprise. However, the things he’s saying have kind of caught me off guard (in a good way):

  • “Bicycling is an important factor in less carbon-intensive commuting”
  • “When I told the League of American Bicyclists National Bike Summit that “Cyclists are important users of America’s transportation systems,” I meant it.”
  • “And, when I wrote that “With DOT, bicyclists have a full partner in working toward livable communities,” I meant that as well.”

To  cyclists, these statements are pretty logical. We get all of this and many of us have been saying the same thing for years. But the problem hasn’t been saying, it’s been the listening. That is, getting the Beltway to listen, and take us seriously (remember last summer’s anti-bike rant by N.C. Rep Patrick McHenry?).

That’s why having attention—positive attention!—from someone at the cabinet level, someone  actually in charge of developing and instituting policy, is such a big deal. Heck, in his Earth Day post, he’s even encouraging us to get involved. When was the last time we were invited to the conversation by a Transportation Secretary?

So, a number of funding opportunities exist, but cycling advocates must get their cities and states to request funds for these purposes. Many states, counties, and municipalities have already done so.

and

Earth Day is today, but we’ll need the sustained engagement of bicycle commuters and their advocates in the weeks and months to come to help keep the wheels of bicycle-friendly legislation on the road.

Sure, this could be just a good PR campaign, but I remain hopeful. He’s (or likely someone in his office) is reading and reacting to comments in some fashion (for example, the Bicycling is an important factor in less carbon-intensive commuting post is a reaction to comments in the Cyclists are important users of transportation systems post).

All this adds up to a nice bit of dialog, if you ask me.

And as long as we’re asking, I’ll now ask you to take the time to share your thoughts on transportation on his blog. At worst, just getting some of this off your chest will make you feel better. At best, the right someone will hear us and together we’ll make a difference.

That’s got to be worth a few minutes of your time, right?

-Tim

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