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Remarks to the League of American Bicyclists

Secretary Anthony Foxx
Remarks to the League of American Bicyclists

Washington, DC • March 4, 2014

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Good afternoon, everybody! It’s great to be with you.

And how about we give a big hand again to Andy Clark? Thank you, Andy for that introduction.

A few years ago, you may remember that my predecessor, Ray LaHood spoke to this group. And, as I understand it, he was so carried away by your enthusiasm that he actually jumped up on top of a table to deliver his speech.

Well, if I jump on one of your tables today, someone’s going to end up with my foot in their lunch.

So, no tables for me.

That said, I do want to show you my commitment to bikes and biking rather than just talk about it.

So, guys, let’s put it up on the big screen:
 
[image of Secretary Foxx riding a bike]

As you can clearly see, this is me about to win the Tour de France.

No, actually this is me riding my bike in Charlotte.

But have you ever seen anyone model a helmet that well?

Look at that athleticism!

The truth is – I’m huge fan of biking. My kids are, too. What kids aren’t?

But, at the same time, I know – as you all do – that in order for my family, and all families, to enjoy biking, there have to be people out there working behind the scenes and on the streets to put in place the right policies so that roads are safe for all of us.
 
Now, for more than 130 years, the league and all members of the biking community have done exactly that. You’ve organized and raised your voices in support of safer streets. And I want to applaud you for all that.

But I’m here because I have some experience with these issues, as well. Not 130 years of experience… but some.

When I was mayor of Charlotte, I helped oversee the development of our “Complete Streets” approach to transportation.  But I also saw an uptick in the number of bike/ped crashes that were occurring in our city.
In fact, one morning I was out jogging – and I was hit by a car.

I was lucky. I wasn’t hurt. But this trend that we’re seeing of higher rates of bicycle and pedestrian accidents – and we’re seeing it all over the country – is not something I’m going to tolerate.

I didn’t tolerate it as Mayor. And I won’t tolerate it as Secretary of Transportation.

Our roads should be safe, easy places to travel no matter how we’re traveling them.
So, this afternoon, I want to spend a little bit of time talking about USDOT’s efforts to bring attention and investment to one mode that, traditionally, doesn’t get enough of it: bikes.

And I want to begin with the trip that I took last week with the President to St. Paul, Minnesota.

We were there to talk about DOT’s TIGER grant program.

As you probably know, TIGER provides funding directly to communities, helping them tackle infrastructure projects that they wouldn’t be able to tackle otherwise.
 
TIGER investments span all modes. But, over the past five years, I’m happy to tell you, we’ve invested more than $150 million dollars in projects that have helped improve bike networks across the country.

We’ve built bike lanes and paths in Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

We’ve constructed a network to link cyclists with downtown Indianapolis.

And now, we’re looking forward to doing more.

Because, last Wednesday, the President and I were in St. Paul not just to talk about the TIGER investments that we have made; we were there to talk about the investments we will make.

Because there’s going to be a sixth round of TIGER.

Thanks to the leadership of the President – and to the bipartisanship of members of Congress, like Senator Patty Murray – we’ve secured $600 million dollars for the next round of TIGER, which marks a 27 percent increase in our funding from the last round.

And we want to give it to projects that will help make our communities safer, greener, and more livable. In other words, everything the bike community stands for.

So, work with your local officials… encourage them to apply for TIGER funding for bike projects… and we’ll be there to give them our strongest consideration… and to get them done.

Now, I should also add: TIGER was just part of the reason we were in St. Paul.

You’ve probably heard this by now. But last Wednesday, the President laid out his vision for a four-year, $302-billion-dollar transportation bill that will modernize our nation’s surface transportation system.
 
The bill includes funding to close the gap in the Highway Trust Fund and for new investments in rail and transit.

But it’s not lost on me that you’re wondering where bikes fit into this bill, too.

Well, stay tuned on this. Because we’re actually set to release the details of the President’s budget request for transportation in about half-an-hour.

But I can tell you – right here and right now – that we’ve made sure the bill includes the resources we need to step up bike/ped programs.  And it has the resources we need, too, for the public transportation systems that are so important to making walking and bicycling viable options. 

Right now at DOT, we’re finding new ways to help communities assess and improve their  bike networks. We’re also studying different bike lane and cycle track configurations across the country – and figuring out the best ways to design them.

 And these aren’t the last efforts you’re going to hear about.

Because I’ve made investing in bike/ped my priority. And so has the President’s bill.

If it passes Congress, it will ensure we have the funding to continue our efforts in support of bicyclists – and even expand those efforts, too.

So, we have to make sure Congress does pass this bill. And by “we,” I mean all of us: not just DOT, but partners like you.

Because this organization, more than any other, understands what’s at stake.

I think that, if we’re being honest, when some people hear our advocacy for more bike lanes – or for new traffic patterns – they think we’re favoring recreation over transportation. That we’re making driving more difficult for the sake of someone’s Saturday afternoon adventure.

Well, let me first say I think that’s a false choice. We can be for bikes and for other forms of transportation, too.

But let me also say, we all know this isn’t just about enjoying a nice, leisurely ride. And you have the data to prove this.

This league has published a report that found that about a third of bike trips are taken by people who make less than $30,000 a year.

People are riding bikes because they need to.

So, this isn’t just an issue of recreation.

This is an issue of equality. It’s an issue of choice. It’s an issue of making sure that, when someone’s only – or best – option to get to work is a bike… that they then have the option to ride it.

When the President speaks about “building ladders of opportunity,” this is exactly what he means. Because sometimes that ladder can be a bike path to a new job, or a better school.

So let me close by saying: Go tell Congress all of this.

The bike community is famous for catching the attention of our elected officials – and it isn’t just because of your neon vests. It’s because you’ve never hesitated to speak up – to get loud – when decisions that matter hang in the balance.

Well, up on Capitol Hill, they’re facing one of those decisions right now.

And we need you to get loud again. To speak up. To tell Congress why biking is important in this country – and why the President’s proposal will help keep it that way.
 
So, thank you all for listening.

But thank you more for speaking.

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Updated: Thursday, December 11, 2014