Ray “Fastlane” LaHood Wants to Build Up the Slow Lane
On his ironically titled blog, US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced
… 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.
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.
To set this approach in motion, we have formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities:
•Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
•Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
•Go beyond minimum design standards.
•Collect data on walking and biking trips.
•Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
•Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
•Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.
The logistical difficulties posed by this edict have only nightmare solutions: either narrow existing roads and exacerbate some already serious congestion or widen roads by taking hundreds of thousands (millions?) of acres of land by eminent domain.
The economy and the unemployment rate continue to not dazzle. Federal, state and local governments are looking at budgetary red ink as far as the eye can see. Pending several lawsuits (cross your fingers and toes), the federal government has effectively seized control of the nation’s healthcare system, to the extreme concern of a sizeable chunk of voters. And the Transportation Secretary pipes up with a plan to put our bike paths on steroids?? Please tell me this is a wag the pedal attempt to change the conversation from the first three items and not a serious policy proposal.