News, updates, commentary and more from BikeAthens. BikeAthens is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Athens, GA. BikeAthens promotes transportation and land-use policies that improve alternative modes of transportation, including pedestrian, cycling, and public transit options. The mission of our organization is to make alternative transportation a practical, convenient, and safe option for all citizens of Athens-Clarke County.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Transportation Sec nominee

Ray LaHood, nominee for an important cabinet position, is being discussed.

from the inbox...
This came across the Thunderhead list. Sounds like La Hood
should be a positive choice for bicyclists. As was mentioned before,
he is a big supporter of funding Transportation Enhancements and CMAQ,
which have been critical for bike/ped in my state. It also sounds
like he is favorable towards Complete Streets.

Eric Rogers
Board of Directors, Missouri Bicycle Federation


Dear Thunderhead members,

Please pardon the length of this post, but I want to provide
information on our incoming USDOT Secretary, Ray LaHood, a moderate
Republican Congressman from central Illinois who was retiring from his
seat this year. In summary, he's been great for us! He is an active
supporter of bicycling and trails, and he has very visibly gone
against the wishes of his party leaders on our issues:

In a letter dated April 28, 1997, LaHood joined 5 other Republican
House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee members in expressing
support for both Enhancements and CMAQ to the committee chair, Bud
Schuster. He also spoke to the Illinois Valley Wheelm'n bicycle club
about his support of both of these funding sources, which he said
"have provided many benefits to the environment and local communities
(e.g., bicycle and recreational trails). I believe in the importance
and value of these programs." Congressman LaHood's leadership was
pivotal in ensuring that Enhancements would continue in TEA-21 (1998).

On July 11, 2003, a House Appropriations Subcommittee, led by Rep.
Istook (R-OK), passed a fiscal year 2004 transportation budget that
redirected the $600 million slated for Transportation Enhancements to
highway construction. Zeroing out TE threatened it not only for that
year, but for the reauthorization bill that became SAFETEA-LU. An
effort to restore dedicated Enhancements funding barely failed in full
committee, where LaHood was one of only two R's voting for it. In a
tremendous and powerful 327-90 victory that solidified TE's status, a
bi-partisan amendment won 327-90 on the House floor. LaHood stood up
impressively to make a floor statement in support:


Ray LaHood's House floor statement, September 2, 2003:

"Mr. Chairman, I am a member of the Committee on Appropriations, and
I think I am one of two members on our side who voted to support this
effort to restore this program the way that it has existed for several
years. I know it is probably not fashionable for me to be up here
talking in favor of this amendment, but I feel strongly about it. I am
a jogger. I have been a jogger for almost 30 years. I have taken full
advantage of the Rails to Trails Program that exists in my
congressional district and other parts of Illinois. I think it is a
marvelous program. We have promoted around here a new caucus that has
been formed by the Members to get Members to exercise more, to get
Members to stay in shape. Part of the way that some of us do it is
disembark from the Rayburn Building and jog down the Mall. It is not
really a Rails to Trails, but it is a marvelous place to jog."

"You see people jogging all over this part of the country. You see
people jogging along the parkway from Old Town all the way down to
where George Washington once lived. These are Rails to Trails. These
are opportunities for people that would not have existed without this
program. The last thing I want to do is to turn this program over to
the Governor of my State. Every State in the country has a deficit. I
guarantee you what these Governors will do is not turn this money into
Rails to Trails or other amenities or other enhancements. They will
use it to fund other things."

"We have got a $5 billion debt in Illinois. We have got a Governor
who has been in office now 6 months, a new Governor, who has not been
able to figure out how to do that. But I guarantee you that if you
hand him a bag of money from the enhancements, from the Rails to
Trails, he will find other uses for it. As we are encouraging people
all over the country to exercise, to be fit, to eat right, to exercise
and to do things that will continue to make people healthy, there is
no better way to do it than to have this program. I am encouraging
Members to support this amendment. This is a good program. It is a
program that works. It is not broke."

"I want to, too, mention what the gentleman from Oregon talked
about, the whole issue of obesity. There has been more written about
obesity in the last 6 months or so or last year. If we really want
Americans to be fit and healthy and get in good shape, the way to do
it is to allow for the enhancement program that has worked so well,
that allows people to get outdoors, to ride their bikes, to jog, to
walk. What better way to bring people in a community together. This
program has been a marvelous program. We should not change it. It is a
program that works. It is not broke. I encourage Members to support
the amendment and continue the fine program we have had."


Other items:
- In the SAFETEA-LU legislation, he pushed for higher funding levels
for our programs and earmarked $670K for two major trail projects in
his district
- At the 2004 Bike Summit, we presented him a certificate of
appreciation, in person. I vaguely recall that he seemed in favor of
routine accommodation (Complete Streets), an opinion reiterated by his
transportation staffer at the 2008 Summit.

I think we should all be pleased by Rep. LaHood's selection.

- Ed

Ed Barsotti
Executive Director
League of Illinois Bicyclists
2550 Cheshire Dr.
Aurora, IL 60504
So... he's possibly pro-bike but anti-transit.

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