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Transportation Secretary LaHood calls on bike/ped to get equal footing to cars

Posted Apr 14 2010 10:10am

This flew in under the radar a few weeks ago, but U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that moving forward pedestrian and bicycle facilities would be put on an equal footing as cars in federally funded transportation projects. Essentially, people and bicycles would no longer be treated as an afterthought or unwelcome additions to roads built solely for automobiles.

Much like the Nueces Bike Boulevard debate , it didn’t take long for the fighting words to come out from individuals threatened by road users less than 1/10th their mass. The trucking industry claimed this would be the end of modern industrialized America while a Republican congressman turned on his former GOP colleague accusing the Secretary of being on drugs. (LaHood was a Republican member of the House of Representatives before joining the Obama administration.) You’d think the truckers would be happy to have few cars on the road.

We had expressed some concern with Obama’s choice of Lahood for Transportation wondering if real change in policy would come. It appears our concerns were unfounded. Here’s LaHood addressing the National Bike Summit last month.

In other news, it looks like the majority of our country is not making a rational choice about what’s best for them when it comes to home location and commutes. A recent Science Blog article by Wired contributing editor Jonah Lehrer , author of the new book How We Decide , found that a person with a one hour commute needs 40% more in salary to make up for unhappiness this causes compared to someone walking to work. People tend to over estimate how much space they need in a home and under estimate how unhappy commuting makes them (kind of like over estimating how much you’ll need that Ford Subdivision to go camping or move a couch once a year.)

Consider two housing options: a three bedroom apartment that is located in the middle of a city, with a ten minute commute time, or a five bedroom McMansion on the urban outskirts, with a forty-five minute commute. . .”The additional bathroom is a completely superfluous asset for at least 362 or 363 days each year, whereas a long commute does become a burden after a while.”

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