Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s recent advocacy of treating cycling and walking as integral parts of holistic transportation planning has generated comment after comment after comment--mostly favorable.
That’s not to say the idea is without its share of controversy. The National Association of Manufacturers said the policy lacked connection to the real world and the role of the United States as a modern industrial economy. Members of Congress questioned cycling projects’ ability to create jobs. Others called it pandering to the spandex crowd. And one well-read blog declared it the opening salvo in the coming cars vs. bicycles war.
Everybody should probably cut the secretary some slack .After all he is the secretary of all transportation--roads, rails, waterways, and the skies--not just any preferred mode. To the extent that bicycling projects can be incorporated into other transportation improvements, their costs are generally incremental. Such projects would give people other travel options as well, reducing congestion and carbon.
Of course, the rationale for LaHood’s outspokenness could be simpler. Perhaps after Toyota, the secretary is just sick of cars.