Bike-Walk Funding Facing Bumpy Road, Secretary Foxx Says

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Paul is communications director for Mobility Lab. He specializes in storytelling and editing, as well as environmental and pop-culture issues related to transportation.
July 21, 2014

MoLab ATP and Sec Foxx

Pictured with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (second from left) are Wendy Duren of Arlington Transportation Partners, Chris Hamilton of Arlington County Commuter Services, Howard Jennings of Mobility Lab, and Paul Mackie of Mobility Lab.

Bicycling is an important part of the U.S. transportation ecosystem of the future.

That was the message U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx offered today as part of a National Press Club speech on the many transportation challenges faced by our partisan-gridlocked country.

“True confession: I have been trying for an entire year to figure out how to bike to work. Two weeks ago, I finally biked to work. I’m very proud of myself,” Foxx semi-joked.

The unease many Americans feel about hopping on a bike in busy urban settings is real. But he said bicycle advocates and the U.S. Department of Transportation will need to think of creative ways to help people embrace the mode and feel safe and comfortable sharing space with other vehicles and pedestrians.

“When you have 100 million more people to move around over next 35 years, we’re going to see more congestion,” Foxx said, adding that it’s encouraging that young people are locating in central areas where they don’t need cars.

Businesses are also gaining an understanding of the importance of bicyclists as their customers and constituents. Foxx mentioned on example in which Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard told him a company was offering to make a $100 million investment in that city but needed a guarantee to be near a bike path.

“We [the U.S. DOT] can facilitate a role. We want to ensure bicyclists are as safe as pedestrians and drivers,” Foxx added.

The secretary devoted most of his speech to calling on Congress to end patchwork measures and get serious about fixing the country’s crumbling infrastructure. The best hope for a full transportation policy lies with the Grow America Act, which is encouraging in many ways but lacking in its language about bicycling as a serious mode of transportation.

As noted by Streetsblog and the League of American Bicyclists, the act:

  • Doesn’t return biking and pedestrian funding to previous levels
  • Doesn’t create a national bike plan
  • Doesn’t establish a separate bike-pedestrian performance measure, which is important because these travelers accounted for 17 percent of traffic fatalities in 2012, but less than 1 percent of transportation safety funds support infrastructure for walking and biking
  • Doesn’t set aside TIFIA loan money for bike and pedestrian programs in low-income communities, where Latinos and African-Americans are disproportionately killed on bicycles.

Watch the full speech on C-SPAN here:

Photos by Noel St. John of the National Press Club and Transportation for America

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