== Bike-Walk Alliance of NH ==
US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood supports bicycling
Very positive presentations in DC, Vermont, and NH give hope
In March, US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood addressed bicycling advocates at the LAB National Bike Summit in Washington DC. His words were so inspiring that attendees could not believe their ears! Here is a link to that presentation.
Secretary LaHood then traveled to New England making various stops to address groups and see some projects being funded by the economic stimulus money. Again and again, he emphasized that bicycling is part of the transportation scheme and must be considered during construction. A key point is that while states must spend 3% of transportation funds on non-motorized facilities such as bike paths and rail trails, that 3% is only the base figure -- it could be much higher, like 30%. Here is a link to Secretary LaHood's blog entry about his visit to New England.
For more info about
the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), check
Secretary LaHood's visit to Vermont
During Secretary LaHood's visit to Vermont, Nancy Schulz, Executive Director of the Vermont Bike-Ped Coalition, had a chance to adress him at the Vermont State House on April 17. Below is Nancy's email providing her presentation text and inspiring comments about the event. (If the opportunity arises in NH, BWA-NH would like to echo Nancy's words!)
----- Original Message -----
From: "Nancy Schulz" <nancy@VTBIKEPED.ORG>
Sent: Friday, April 17, 2009 4:48 PM
Subject: A fine day for bike/ped interests in VT
The remarks I delivered today on behalf of VT's bike/ped community to
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and a room full of others
were well received. The Secretary at one point instructed Bernie
Sanders to allow me more time because "I like what she has to
say." (Thanks to Local Motion's Chapin Spencer who offered the link
to a LaHood speech that provided much grist for the mill.)
Here is the text:
Remarks delivered by Nancy Schulz, Executive Director, Vermont Bicycle
& Pedestrian Coalition at the 4/17/09 meeting with U.S. Secretary of
Transportation Ray LaHood at the Vermont State House:
I join the speakers who preceded me in thanking you for making the
time to come to Vermont to meet with us this afternoon. And I thank
Senator Sanders for inviting me, the director of the Vermont Bicycle
and Pedestrian Coalition, as a representative of Vermonts bicycling
and pedestrian community. The bike/ped community appreciates the past
support you both have demonstrated on issues that matter to us.
After you were confirmed as Secretary of Transportation, the buzz
within the national bike/ped community was one of excitement,
optimism, and anticipation. The word was that you were a friend of
bike/ped interests, and hope was expressed that you could be an agent
Last month you gave a speech at the National Bike Summit in
Washington. I listened to your speech twice because I wanted to be
sure I heard it correctly. In the speech, you said I want state and
local officials to consider all the flexibility they have to use
federal highway and transit funds to support bicycling facilities.
To that statement, we in the bike/ped community say Amen! Its
refreshing to have someone at the top who understands that bicycling
is a mode of transportation, not just recreation.
You also stated that Bicyclists and pedestrians are important users
of our transportation system. That sentence falls on the ears of the
bike/ped community members as the first drop of rain on a parched
plant and we say Hallelulah! The bike/ped community is thrilled to
hear this kind of affirmation and we look to you, as the nations
highest transportation official, to provide the leadership needed to
realize the livable communities that you declared are such a high
priority for the Obama administration.
You described President Obama as a transformational figure. Those
of us in the bike/ped community agree with this assessment and hope
that you will channel that transformative energy through the U.S. DOT
to the Vermont AOT so that it will benefit the towns and cities of our
beloved Green Mountain State.
There is a point made in the current issue of Time magazine that
people are drawn to doing what is easy and what is perceived as the
norm. The government, in its role of fostering the well being of
citizens, has an opportunity to affect behavior change by making it
safe, convenient, and easy for people to walk and bicycle. Bicycling
can be viewed as an activity to be tolerated or it can be promoted and
celebrated. Walking can be inhibited or it can be facilitated.
Funding needs to be devoted to both education and infrastructure.
Funding for safety training is particularly important. There is a
huge pent up demand for bicycle and pedestrian projects in Vermont,
but if communities perceive that the federal and state monies wont be
forthcoming or are being directed elsewhere, they wont invest the
time in the application process. While funding is the number one
concern of the bike/ped community in Vermont, the number two concern
is safety. We continue to lobby our legislature for the Safe Passing
bill, which simply requires a motorist to pass a vulnerable roadway
user with due care and every reasonable precaution.
As the new federal transportation bill is crafted, we hope you will
increase the required amount of funding devoted to bike/ped. Its
essential to maintain the Recreation Trails Program and the
Enhancements Grant Program. Complete Streets language needs to be
included in the reauthorization and the Safe Routes to School Program
needs to be expanded.
Mr. Secretary, you declared that bicycle and pedestrian advocates have
a full partner with the U.S. DOT. I hope you will continue to visit
Vermont and that, on future visits, youll experience a state that is
truly safe and welcoming to bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages, a
state that has benefited by having you at the helm of the U.S.
Department of Transportation.
And, while were on the subject of bicycling and walking, Id like
extend an invitation to everyone present to join in the upcoming Bike/
Walk with Your Legislator Days. Please meet in front of the State
House on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:15 am for a guided bike ride or
walk. And, for good measure, well also go on Friday, May 1, to kick
off Way to Go week.
Question for Secretary LaHood: Can you name one specific way in which
you, as an agent of transformation within the Obama administration,
will overcome the entrenched thinking that has put cars first and
bikes last for decades?
(The Secretary responded by saying that he intends to incorporate a
"Livable Communities" program into the next federal Transportation
bill so that people who want to bike, walk, jog and "get out of cars"
will be able do so.)
I wish you all could have been there this afternoon to feel the fresh
air. A new day has dawned.
Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition
PO Box 1234
Montpelier, VT 05601
Thank you, Nancy! We wish you well and hope to see you again soon!
Dave T. for BWA-NH