LaHood to Bike Summit: DOT Will Address Bike Safety Head On
It was a bittersweet opening to the 2013 National Bike Summit last night. Greeted with (multiple) standing ovation(s), outgoing Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, fired up the crowd for his fifth — and final — time of his tenure at the U.S. DOT.
Since he was appointed in 2009, LaHood has been a true believer in the power of biking and has raised the credibility of bicycles as transportation at the federal level. “Ray LaHood is the first and only transportation Secretary that keeps talking about bikes — even after we’ve left the room,” said League President Andy Clarke.
In fact, the Secretary’s has become such a household name in the bike community that “the President recently told me that he ran into someone who said something about Ray LaHood,” the Secretary recounted. “The president said, ‘You must be a cyclist’ — and he was.”
The bicycle-friendly Secretary isn’t done yet. In 2011, there was an 11 percent increase in bicyclist fatalities, LaHood noted. “We need to do better,” he said. And he’s starting DOT down the path toward active collaboration with bike advocates to do just that.
“DOT is going to address bicycle safety head on — and we’re going to pull from all of our resources to solve our safety challenges,” LaHood said. “Our policy experts, our researchers at NHTSA, and our engineers in the Federal Highway Administration will all work together on this. Most importantly, we want to make sure we have the cycling community behind us. As part of our ongoing safety efforts, DOT will partner with the cycling community to hold two bike safety summits in April… DOT will also work to create a standard guide for how we build modern streets, bridges and highways that keep everyone safe — including cyclists.”
But the Secretary also commended the progress of the bike movement and the vital role of advocates. “We’ll never forgot what you’ve done; what you’ve done in your communities, your vision… What a ride these four-and-a-half years with all of you. You’ve made a great difference; you really have.”
Right back at you, Mr. Secretary.
Stay tuned for more from the Summit…
Photo by Brian Palmer