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Sec Foxx Shares Support for Bikes

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx acknowledged that he has big shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of his bike-friendly predecessor Ray LaHood. But, in his first appearance at the National Bike Summit, the former Charlotte mayor emphasized his support for bicycling.

“I’m a huge fan of biking and my family is, as well,” he told more than 700 Summit attendees this afternoon. “At the same time, I know, as all of you do, that in order for my family and your family to enjoy biking, there have to be people out there working behind the scenes to put in the right policies so the roads are safe for all of us. For 130 years, the League and biking community have done just that… and I want to applaud you for the great work you do.”

Foxx shared an image of himself riding the first bikeshare in the Southeast, and emphasized the importance of bicyclist safety. “I’m here today because I have experience with these issues, as well, at the local level,” he said, “When I was the mayor, I helped oversee the development of complete streets in the City of Charlotte, and I also saw an uptick in bicyclist and pedestrian deaths occurring in our city… I didn’t tolerate it as a mayor, and as U.S. Secretary of Transportation we certainly won’t stand still and allow this crisis to slowly build up over time. Our roads should be safe; they should be easy places to travel, no matter how we’re traveling on them.”

Foxx applauded the continuation of the TIGER program — and also urged advocates to get behind the President’s new $302 billion transportation proposal.

“This transportation bill will modernize this nation’s infrastructure,” he said. “This plan includes funding to close the gap in the HIghway Trust Fund… The shortfall could hit us in the face as soon as August of this year and, by our estimate, 700,000 jobs hang in the balance. In order for this country to dramatically advance, build and extend the world’s safest transportation network we have to do more than backfill the Highway Trust Fund; we have to invest in infrastructure in a much more robust way.”

“It’s not lost on me that you’re probably asking, ‘Where do bikes fit into this $302 billion plan?'” he added. “The budget details are being released today and we made sure that this plan increases resources to step up bicycle and pedestrian programs and the resources we need for our public transit systems, which are so important to people who walk and ride bicycles… I’ve made investing in bicycles and pedestrians a priority in the president’s plan… We need to make sure Congress acts on this plan.”

Foxx emphasized that he isn’t under the misperception that bicycles are solely for leisure and recreation; that we shouldn’t inconvenience road users with a Saturday morning pleasure ride. “I think that’s a false choice,” he said. “We can be for bikes and other forms of transportation, too. America can chew gum and walk straight.”

The Secretary also zeroed in on the League’s 2013 “New Majority: Pedaling Toward Equity” report, highlighting the need to address disparities that make cycling more difficult — and dangerous — for many riders. “The report showed that about 1/3 of bike trips are taken by people who make less than $30,000 per year,” he said. “In many communities, people are riding bikes because that’s how they get to work. This isn’t just an issue of recreation; it’s an issue of equality, bringing people together, expanding the middle class and helping people who are trying to get into the middle class. It’s an issue of making sure, when someone’s only or best option to get to work is a bike, that they have an option to ride it. When the President talks about ladders of opportunity, that’s what he’s talking about. Sometimes that ladder can be a bike path to a new job or a new school.”

Thank you to Secretary Foxx for his support — and we look forward to working with him in the future.

Photo by Brian Palmer