Friday, March 26, 2010

LAB responds to attacks on Sec. LaHoods new policy guidance

As we reported a while back, U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood recently issued new Federal policy recommendations to state DOT's to ensure that bicyclists and pedestrians are treated as equals with other transportation modes. As he said at the time, "This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized."

Given that this is a major change, one that finally could help change the view that "transportation" too often meant "motorized" transportation, there has been some pushback from the trucking industry and the National Association of Manufacturers. The President of the American Trucking Association stated that
"I'm in full agreement with the National Association of Manufacturers, who said on their Shopfloor blog last week that "treating bicycles and other non-motorized transportation as equal to motorized transportation would cause an economic catastrophe." Such a policy will negate any effort the Administration has made to create jobs and will hinder the movement of our nation’s goods. As we work to emerge from these difficult economic times, we need policies that promote the safe, efficient movement of goods. The Administration's major policy revision will be particularly detrimental if it diverts Highway Trust Fund dollars from critical expansion and repair projects that will help use meet national goals."
Here is an excerpt from the response by Andy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists:
As I think back to major economic catastrophes of the last 40 years, I am having a hard time finding any tell-tale trace of bicycle tire tracks. On the contrary, my recollection of significant recent economic crises is that they are invariably caused by our predeliction for foreign oil – the 1973/74 oil embargo; 1988 oil crisis; 2008 gas price increases quickly followed by the mortgage and foreclosure crisis that piled unsustainable housing costs on top of budget-busting suburban commuting costs.

Let me be clear. We need roads; we need highways. We need cars and trucks. But they don’t work for everything and everyone all the time. We need choice, we need alternatives, we need balance. That’s what the Secretary's new policy gives us a chance to achieve. The most vibrant, livable communities in the world - which also happen to be economic powerhouses - are those in which there is an equitable and rational balance between car, truck, transit, bike and walk modes. That's a vision we need to achieve together.
I find it funny when the Truckers Association says:

As we work to emerge from these difficult economic times, we need policies that promote the safe, efficient movement of goods.

I suppose I agree, but only to a point. Wherever it is possible, goods should really be moved by rail and not by truck. Rail is far more efficient for hauling goods.

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