Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Message Board General Discussion › USDOT Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation

USDOT Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation

John B.
JohnB38
Westbrook, ME
Post #: 1,347
A new Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations was released a few weeks ago by US Secretary of Transporation Ray LaHood. It calls for consideration of walking and biking as equal modes to (motor vehicle) driving in all federally-funded projects:

Purpose

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) is providing this Policy Statement to reflect the Department’s support for the development of fully integrated active transportation networks. The establishment of well-connected walking and bicycling networks is an important component for livable communities, and their design should be a part of Federal-aid project developments. Walking and bicycling foster safer, more livable, family-friendly communities; promote physical activity and health; and reduce vehicle emissions and fuel use. Legislation and regulations exist that require inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian policies and projects into transportation plans and project development. Accordingly, transportation agencies should plan, fund, and implement improvements to their walking and bicycling networks, including linkages to transit. In addition, DOT encourages transportation agencies to go beyond the minimum requirements, and proactively provide convenient, safe, and context-sensitive facilities that foster increased use by bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities, and utilize universal design characteristics when appropriate. Transportation programs and facilities should accommodate people of all ages and abilities, including people too young to drive, people who cannot drive, and people who choose not to drive.

The document goes on to list 8 recommended actions, including this first one,

Considering walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes: The primary goal of a transportation system is to safely and efficiently move people and goods. Walking and bicycling are efficient transportation modes for most short trips and, where convenient intermodal systems exist, these nonmotorized trips can easily be linked with transit to significantly increase trip distance. Because of the benefits they provide, transportation agencies should give the same priority to walking and bicycling as is given to other transportation modes. Walking and bicycling should not be an afterthought in roadway design.

This seems a game-changing policy shift at the national level. It sounds good to most, although facilities-wary vehicular bicyclists fear it being used to justify even more uncritical support for facilities, including poorly-designed facilities. LAB has already referenced it in a member email yesterday to encourage support for bike lanes on a road in Charleston, SC. (I don't know the details of the road.)

What do you think?
mike
user 3053132
Portland, ME
Post #: 439
Here's a write-up about it in Wired:

http://www.wired.com/...­

The second bit you quote seems like a sea change - it will be interesting to see what comes out of it.
John B.
JohnB38
Westbrook, ME
Post #: 1,363
AP article appeared today in the Press Herald:

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a weekend cyclist, might consider keeping his head down and his helmet on. A backlash is brewing over his new bicycling policy.

LaHood says the government is going to give bicycling -- and walking, too -- the same importance as automobiles in transportation planning and the selection of projects for federal money. The former Republican congressman quietly announced the "sea change" in transportation policy last month.

"This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized," he wrote in his government blog.

Not so fast, say some conservatives and industries dependent on trucking. A manufacturers' blog called the policy "nonsensical." One congressman suggested LaHood was on drugs.

Full Article

Personally, I hope it means more money for promotion of bicycling education, and a better general recognition of bikes as transportation. But that would be an ideal outcome, and ideal outcomes hardly ever happen in politics.

Still, the trucking and other motor-centric lobbies are vastly overreacting. They don't want equality. They're running scared of not being the unquestioned dominant force in transportation planning. It's all about power.

Amazingly, there are no reader comments yet.
John B.
JohnB38
Westbrook, ME
Post #: 1,364
At a recent House hearing, Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, suggested jokingly to a Transportation Department official that one explanation for the new policy is that LaHood's thinking has been clouded by drugs.

"Is that a typo?" LaTourette asked. "If it's not a typo, is there still mandatory drug testing at the department?"

The new policy is not a regulation and, therefore, not mandatory, Transportation undersecretary for policy Roy Kienitz responded to LaTourette.

But it's LaHood's view "that the federal government should not take the position that roads and trains are real transportation and walking and biking is not," Kienitz said. "His view is it's all real transportation, and we should consider it based on what benefits it can bring for the amount of money we spend."

That didn't satisfy LaTourette.

"So is it his thought that perhaps we're going to have, like, rickshaws carrying cargo from state to state, or people with backpacks?" he asked.

Bicycling advocates have been blasting LaTourette. Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, with 300,000 affiliated members, called LaTourette's comments "a little childish."

I agree with Andy Clarke for once.

(Although I do wish Kienitz's statement had not put "roads" and "biking" in opposite categories. That attitude is still part of the problem, in my opinion. It plays right into opponents fears that we're talking about diverting money from roads and putting it into trails instead. Not that trails can't be useful for transportation in some cases [although I do think trail advocates frequently overplay it, which doesn't help us], and not like trails cost nearly as much as roads. But that's why I say I hope education will be a part of it, to enable cyclists and motorists to better share existing roads without perpetuating this dynamic of antagonistic constituencies competing for money.)
Gary G.
user 9496013
Portland, ME
Post #: 13
(Although I do wish Kienitz's statement had not put "roads" and "biking" in opposite categories. That attitude is still part of the problem, in my opinion. It plays right into opponents fears that we're talking about diverting money from roads and putting it into trails instead. Not that trails can't be useful for transportation in some cases [although I do think trail advocates frequently overplay it, which doesn't help us], and not like trails cost nearly as much as roads. But that's why I say I hope education will be a part of it, to enable cyclists and motorists to better share existing roads without perpetuating this dynamic of antagonistic constituencies competing for money.)


I think there should be an emphasis on building paths....educating motorists will only go so far, and there always be some hostile idiot driving a two ton piece of metal.

Without dedicated paths, it's very difficult to get people to try cycling as transportation unless they already ride. In cities that have built bike paths, ridership has increased significantly...I believe Memphis is one of these places.

I imagine someone will point out that statistics on road use and that people's fears of riding on the road are not rational, but most people do not make decisions rationally, particularly where their perceived safety is the issue. SUV's are more dangerous for everyone, including the drivers, but when you drive in them, you FEEL safer. It's instinctual on an animal level to feel safer when you have the high ground.

Our lower animal brains do not understand the speed that cars travel at and for many people this fear is too much to overcome. I feel safer when I ride on a bike path, (and I don't have to breathe fumes) even though I know the statistics do not support that. As someone who's been hit from behind (I know this is rare) it's never far from my mind when I ride on a busy road at rush hour, and there seem to be lot's of close calls on Woodford St. in particular.

My interest is twofold: transportation and fitness. I think it's equally important to get the numbers of riders up as much as possible and as long as the roads are the primary option, many people simply will not consider riding as viable transportation.


Kenneth O.
kob22225
Portland, ME
Post #: 342
You have cause and effect backwards. Growing interest in bicycling in a culture that doesn't understand safe bicycling creates the call for bad and wasteful special facilities. Not the other way around

Anyway, even if I thought tricking the 'animal brain' was reasonable public policy (I don't), I would not stoop to such low behavior for something with so little payback as bicycling. I would stoop-to-pander for mass transit and walking first.

However, as I said, I am confident that pandering to the 'animal brain' is a really really bad idea. I will leave that to Sarah Palin and the tea baggers. I'm going to push only sound and mature walking mass transit and bicyclist ideas.

Bicyclists are safest and best served using public roadways.

Bicyclists should be discouraged from mixing with pedestrians on facilities and parts of travel corridors that should have been left dedicated to pedestrians.
Gary G.
user 9496013
Portland, ME
Post #: 14
You have cause and effect backwards. Growing interest in bicycling in a culture that doesn't understand safe bicycling creates the call for bad and wasteful special facilities. Not the other way around

Anyway, even if I thought tricking the 'animal brain' was reasonable public policy (I don't), I would not stoop to such low behavior for something with so little payback as bicycling. I would stoop-to-pander for mass transit and walking first.

However, as I said, I am confident that pandering to the 'animal brain' is a really really bad idea. I will leave that to Sarah Palin and the tea baggers. I'm going to push only sound and mature walking mass transit and bicyclist ideas.

Bicyclists are safest and best served using public roadways.

Bicyclists should be discouraged from mixing with pedestrians on facilities and parts of travel corridors that should have been left dedicated to pedestrians.


I don't agree that getting more people cycling is "little payback" for the public. As I said, my interest is as much in health and fitness (I am a health professional) as it is in sensible transportation policy, so we might have different agendas here.

And, as someone who works with victims of trauma and has a strong interest in neuroscience, there is nothing small minded about "pandering" to the animal brain (I am not defending Sarah Palin, BTW). We ignore the needs of our "lower brain" at great cost to our health and well-being. One of those needs is to feel a coherent connection to our environment and moment-to-moment embodied context. And that's very difficult to do when you are essentially defenseless against large and fast moving inanimate objects (which also have an inherent tendency to create a sense of isolation and alienation in the operator, not to mention the vast amount of texting while driving I see every day).
Our brains perceive the world very differently when we are cut off from the immediate environment (like when driving) and that, all by itself, will change the way people act and perceive others. Ever know someone whose hostility only comes out while driving?
Gary G.
user 9496013
Portland, ME
Post #: 15
You have cause and effect backwards. Growing interest in bicycling in a culture that doesn't understand safe bicycling creates the call for bad and wasteful special facilities. Not the other way around



I believe Memphis built bike paths to promote health and physical activity because it is a famously overweight and unhealthy city, not because bike transportation groups demanded it.

When people ride recreationally and realize how good it feels, then commuting by bicycle becomes a possibility in their minds.
Kenneth O.
kob22225
Portland, ME
Post #: 343

I don't agree that getting more people cycling is "little payback" for the public.
As I said, my interest is as much in health and fitness (I am a health professional) as it is in sensible transportation policy, so we might have different agendas here.

I include health and fitness in my claim. A modern society reconfigured into a community pattern where walking and mass transit use is much higher mode share and given much much greater resources, and where low occupancy vehicle use (includes bicycling) is given a healthier slice of the pie on more sensibly designed roadnets, is better for transportation _AND_ health and fitness of the population - compared to wasting resources on bad bicyclist facilities ideas, born of a mindset that struggles to continue the deadend community designs we now have - and throws bicyclist vehicle drivers onto the part of the travel corridors that should have been left to walkers.


And, as someone who works with victims of trauma and has a strong interest in neuroscience, there is nothing small minded about "pandering" to the animal brain (I am not defending Sarah Palin, BTW). We ignore the needs of our "lower brain" at great cost to our health and well-being.


Fine when the animal brain is getting it right with a Malcolm Gladwell Blink-type phenomenon. But when the animal brain has misevaluated both the existing state of things... and has mis-evaluated all the slopes away from the existing state of things (uphill is downhill and downhill is uphill) then we need to let the higher human brain functions win.

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