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Bicycling to opportunity...in safety

Bicycling to opportunity...in safety

When I was mayor of Charlotte, NC, I helped oversee development of a Complete Streets approach to transportation that included motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair users, transit passengers, and the businesses that lined the city's streets. I also was mayor when the Charlotte Center City Partners launched Charlotte B-Cycle, the largest urban bike-sharing system in the Southeast.

Cities and towns across the country are taking steps to make biking an option for their residents, but we have a responsibility to make sure that it's a safe option, too. Because, even though NHTSA reports national total crash fatalities at record lows, bicyclist and pedestrian deaths have not followed suit.

I didn't tolerate it as mayor of Charlotte, and we certainly won’t stand still at DOT and allow this crisis to build up over time. As I told the enthusiastic bicycling advocates yesterday at the 2014 National Bike Summit, our roads should be safe; they should be easy places to travel, no matter how we’re traveling on them.

Photo of Secretary Foxx at 2014 National Bike Summit
Photo courtesy of Brian Palmer

Traditionally, bicycling has not benefited from federal transportation investments. But in the past few years, our TIGER program has 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.

Yesterday, we announced the details of President Obama's $302 billion proposal for American transportation, and we made sure that this plan increases resources to step up bicycle and pedestrian programs and the resources we need for our public transit systems, which are important connections for people who walk and ride bicycles.

Infographic charting the increase in bike commuting since 1990

This is about transportation--about people using their bikes to get where they need to go.

In fact, the League of American Bicyclists released a report in 2013 showing that about 1/3 of bike trips are taken by people who make less than $30,000 per year. In many communities, people are riding bikes because that’s how they get to work. So this isn’t just an issue of recreation; it’s an issue of equality, bringing people together, expanding the middle class, and helping people who are trying to get into the middle class. It's an issue of making sure, when someone’s only or best option to get to work is a bike, that they have an option to ride it, and ride it in safety.

In a nation with as rich a history of meeting challenges as ours, we can be for bikes and other forms of transportation at the same time. And the President's transportation proposal shows us how to do that.

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Comments

Streets need signs for the speeding drivers, slow down cuz bikers have a RIGHT to be on the road too, or something like that...

If this is really the federal agenda, then why is the bike path that I would take on my daily commute to dropping my kid off at day care currently torn up and the "alternative route" laughable? I no longer bike. Short and simple. It's impossible. It would be great to see some action behind encouraging states, like New Mexico, to follow your directives.

I heartily agree with Thomas. In addition to bettering seasonal maintenance needs, there seems to be an increasing angst directed towards cyclists from drivers. This is not an attempt to put us into two categories (since many cyclists are also drivers) but to highlight the need for better education about cycling law. Not only should we educate cyclists, but we should educate drivers, the police, and any others who might come across a cyclist in their daily routine. Why? Situations like this: I ride at least 60 miles a week and everywhere I go, I ride within our state laws. Last Friday I was riding to campus where I work and attend graduate school. Nearing a red light with the right of way, a man exited a nearby parking lot after making eye contact with me and nearly ran me over. I put my hand out to push off of his vehicle so that I was not run over. He slammed on his brakes, exited his vehicle and told me he did it because cyclists think they own the road...and it gets worse from there. Anyway, the police would do nothing about the situation. According to our laws (in my state) there were any number of things the police could have done. They refused and said "if he ran over you, then we might be able to charge him...might." Still slightly upset about the situation I have contacted them on several occasions to discuss the matter with no response. This happens with a startling regularity. This is simply a matter of education. Education creates compassion, and this may not have happened in the first place. Please let me know if you want any help, I'll be getting my graduate degree in June and would love to work on a proper education campaign.

Many pedestrians, wheelchairs and cyclist use bike paths to get to work or the metro. There is no attempt to clean these off in the winter and often when parking lots are cleared, the snow is pushed to the paths. It's difficult for people to depend on these paths even when they're committed to them. Recreational needs should be secondary to commuter needs, otherwise design roadways for everyone's use.