People who recognize the role of bicycles in sustainable transportation have been talking this week about comments by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. On his blog this week, he wrote:
As I said today in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, this includes fostering communities where bicyclists feel both safe and welcome on the roadways. Bike-friendly development also has the potential to contribute significantly to the revitalization of downtown districts and offer an alternative to sprawl and automobile-focused commuting.
This line of thinking marks a departure from LaHood’s predecessor, who didn’t see bicycles as having much to do with transportation.
LaHood issued a call to arms, of sorts, describing funding sources for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and urging advocates to “get their cities and states to request funds for these projects.”
Here in Savannah, a group of advocates has already been following LaHood’s advice and there are two important opportunities for the public to show support in the near future.
While LaHood’s comments are encouraging, I can’t help but recognize the reality of the situation. As a bicyclist and pedestrian, I must lobby local and state officials and plead for inclusion in transportation funding requests. Yet as a motorist, no such action is required of me. Automobile infrastructure is automatic, even when it isn’t wanted, even when it excludes other users and even when it comes at such a high social cost.