Tuesday, April 27, 2010

People want bike infrastructure

So says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a recent post on his Fast Lane blog, What we know about bike infrastructure: people want it. Secretary LaHood gets it, better bike facilities help everyone by reducing congestion and giving travelers alternatives to driving.
Why devote resources to a transportation mode that fewer than 10% of the nation is using? Well, bike infrastructure is relatively inexpensive--particularly if you compare it to, say, adding a lane to an existing roadway. Now, imagine if those people who do bike around chose instead to make all of their trips in single-occupancy vehicles. Our already congested roadways would be brought to a halt.

So, even for those folks who have no interest in bicycling, this relatively low investment actually pays dividends for those who still choose to drive. Everybody wins.

Bike Commuters And the fact is, as Washington, DC, DOT Director Gabe Klein noted on NPR, "We see a direct correlation between our investment in bike infrastructure and an uptick in usage. When you make it hassle-free and inexpensive for people to use a certain mode, they will use it."

I'll say it again--because I want my online friends in commercial trucking and the people who make their living behind the wheel, to know--we are not out to make their jobs any harder than they already are.

I know they're paying a lot of taxes to use the roads, and I appreciate that fact. But we're talking about making their jobs easier by taking vehicles off those roadways and easing congestion so the trucking community and bus and taxi drivers can deliver their goods and passengers more smoothly.

Look, in the 54 years since President Eisenhower launched the interstate system that connects America, we've committed almost all of our transportation resources to highways. Part of our commitment now should be to create alternatives to congestion.

We know that making biking and walking safer creates more livable communities. It makes Americans healthier at a time when the US military has indicated that 27% of recruits are too overweight to qualify for service. It lowers greenhouse gas emissions. It reduces our dependence on foreign oil.

And it's what Americans have said they want.



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