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What we want to hear Secretary Buttigieg prioritize at his first hearing

Tomorrow, Thursday, March 24, Secretary Pete Buttigieg will testify in front of the House Transportation Committee for the first time in his official role as a cabinet member. In this hearing, he’ll be talking in a more focused way than at his confirmation hearing about the Biden Administration’s priorities for the coming transportation reauthorization bill. This is the same bill the League and our advocates have been working to shape over the past two years. Here’s what we hope Secretary Pete chooses to highlight in his testimony and responses to questions: 

Watch the hearing online on March 25 at 11am ET

1. Building a transportation system for people, not for cars

In his nomination hearing in the Senate and in public appearances since, Buttigieg has emphasized our nation’s need for a transportation system that is more people-centric, regardless of mode. Last week, as reported by the Associated Press, Buttigieg said, “the U.S. can no longer follow a 1950s mentality of building roads and communities based on moving as many cars as possible, but must adapt to the reality of climate change and ensure the safety of growing numbers of bicyclists and pedestrians on the streets.” For the League, this is the most important message, because a people-centric mindset means a complete streets mindset when building new roads, and an increased investment in bicycling and walking across all programs on existing roads.

2. Reducing speed through better infrastructure and technology

We talk a lot about things like ‘safe systems’, ‘road diets’ and other planning jargon, but in the end what we really mean is that excess speed kills, and we want infrastructure that reduces speeding. We know that reducing vehicle miles traveled has been shown to fatalities, but in 2020 that despite a significant reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT), roadway fatalities spiked.  From top leaders in the federal government like Secretary Buttigieg down to our local mayors and community leaders, the League wants to hear a commitment to ending the dangers of speed in our neighborhoods. 

Learn more about the MUTCD and the League’s role in shaping it

In addition to infrastructure, we should be approaching speed reduction through technology measures. That is why the League is advocating for US DOT to revise the MUTCD and to promote better safety standards as part of the New Car Assessment Program.

We’ll appreciate comments on the need for safe systems, complete streets, and other multimodal infrastructure, but we’d really love for Secretary Pete to name speed as the deadly killer it is.

3. Increased funding for Transportation Alternatives, and an increase in funding for bicycling and walking across all programs

While this is integrated into an overall vision for a more people-centric transportation system, it is also important to call out these investments specifically and directly. Messaging is important, and action is critical — the resourcing of people-centric transportation more robustly should be front and center. As it is often said, our budgets demonstrate our priorities. 

More funding for people-centric modes like bicycling and walking will go even farther if we shift how these projects are funded. It’s why the League wants more than an increase in Transportation Alternatives, which will improve access and safety particularly on existing roads, we also want increased policies, processes and performance measures moving forward that will ensure new roads and new developments are built with safe bicycling and walking in mind. 

More biking and walking throughout

Plus, we want to keep hearing Secretary Buttigieg call out biking, walking, rolling, and other ways people get around our country. So as you watch the hearing, keep an eye on our “Buttigieg Bike Bingo” card to see if the hearing takes a truly people-centric approach to thinking about the next transportation bill. We’ll be on Twitter keeping track so be sure to follow along.