DOT wants to help you to walk and bike

In March, Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood announced that the government is going to give bicycling and walking the same importance as automobiles in transportation planning and the selection of projects for federal money.

“This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized,” LaHood wrote in his government blog. LaHood feels that “bike projects are relatively fast and inexpensive to build and are environmentally sustainable; they reduce travel costs, dramatically improve safety and public health, and reconnect citizens with their communities.”

Bicyclists around the country cheered the announcement on bike blogs,Twitter and Facebook. But the outpouring of enthusiasm is not only from hardcore bicyclists. The general public is behind the idea of giving more attention to providing alternatives to driving.

In a new poll conducted by Transportation for America:

More than four-in-five voters (82 percent) say that “the United States would benefit from an expanded and improved transportation system,” including modes of transportation like rail and buses. An overwhelming majority of voters agree with this statement — no matter where they live. Even in rural America, 79 percent of voters agreed with the statement, despite much lower use of public transportation compared to urban Americans.

When asked about reducing traffic congestion, three-in-five voters choose improving public transportation and making it easier to walk and bike over building more roads and expanding existing roads (59% to 38%).

You can read the new DOT policy statement here: Basically, it encourages states and local governments to adopt a similar policy in their own communities by:

  • Considering walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
  • Ensuring that there are transportation choices for people of all ages and abilities, especially children.
  • Going beyond minimum design standards and anticipate future demand for bicycling and walking paths.
  • Integrating bicycle and pedestrian accommodation on new, rehabilitated, and limited access bridges.
  • Collecting data on walking and biking trips.
  • Setting mode share targets for walking and bicycling and tracking them over time.
  • Removing snow from sidewalks and shared-use paths.
  • Improving nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.