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Four House Republicans Join Dems in Hailing LaHood’s Support for Bike-Ped

Four House Republicans yesterday joined 24 Democratic colleagues in a
letter praising Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for his public
support of federal bicycling and pedestrian investment -- a stance that
had generated some bad blood between LaHood and the trucking industry.

4462647793_972ecc74dc.jpgRep. Jack Kingston (R-VA), left, in the "congressional ride" during March's National Bike Summit. (Photo: bikeleague via Flickr)

GOP
Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), Michael McCaul (TX), Jack Kingston
(VA), and Steven LaTourette (OH) signed on to the letter, which was
sent to LaHood late yesterday in advance of today's Bike to Work Day events in the capital.

Referencing LaHood's March policy statement
urging state and local transportation planners to put cyclists and
pedestrians on the same footing as drivers in designing new
infrastructure, the lawmakers wrote:

We recognize, and appreciate, that your statement was not aboutproviding equal amounts of funding to all forms of transportation, orprioritizing bicycling and walking over other transportation modes suchas trucking, freight or public transit. Instead, your commitment toconsider all modes clarified that to give citizens a choice, ratherthan forcing them into their car, we must make sure that bicycling andwalking are as safe and convenient as other modes.

LaTourette's
endorsement of that federal embrace of bicycling and pedestrian access
is particularly notable. He initially echoed the National Association
of Manufacturers and the American Trucking Association in chiding
LaHood for the non-binding bike-ped statement, wondering "what job is going to be created" by bike lanes before later walking back his remarks.

The
House GOP quartet's show of force for non-motorized transport projects
also separates them from a recent Senate Republican report that criticized bike-ped stimulus spending as a waste of taxpayer funds.

A
complete copy of the letter, also signed by House transport committee
chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), is
available after the jump.

Dear Secretary LaHood:

We
would like to thank you for the Department of Transportation’s release
of the “Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation,
Regulations, and Recommendations” announced on March 15. We support the
policy statement’s declaration that bicycling and walking are efficient
modes of transportation that have an important positive impact on our
communities.

We were pleased to see the policy
statement’s acknowledgment of bicycling and walking as an important
part of the transportation system. Bicycling and walking serve as
cost-effective solutions to many of the serious issues facing our
transportation system, including traffic congestion, funding concerns
and air pollution. Moreover, as 40 percent of trips taken in our
country are two miles or less, bicycling and walking should play an
important role in providing transportation options in our small towns,
suburbs and cities.

We recognize, and appreciate, that your
statement was not about providing equal amounts of funding to all forms
of transportation, or prioritizing bicycling and walking over other
transportation modes such as trucking, freight or public transit.
Instead, your commitment to consider all modes clarified that to give
citizens a choice, rather than forcing them into their car, we must
make sure that bicycling and walking are as safe and convenient as
other modes.

We also appreciate the recognition of
bicycling and walking as useful tools to address many other issues
facing our nation such as increased oil consumption, air pollution, and
our growing national debt. Investments in bicycling and walking have
been shown to bring significant economic development to communities
across the country, and to help families lower their own transportation
costs. We believe that communities should be able to move forward with
projects they feel are most advantageous to them, including bicycle
facilities and pedestrian infrastructure.

We hope to
continue to see bicycling and walking as a central part of your
livability initiative. Thank you for all of your hard work on this
issue. We look forward to working with you in the future.

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