News Bulletin: USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood is not a tool.



News Bulletin: USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood is not a tool.

For many of us, I think, it’s always a nice surprise to find a high-ranking government appointee that isn’t a tool.

Check out his bike-related Earth Day blog post here. This administration is putting its our money where its mouth is by mandating that a certain percentage of ARRA (economic stimulus) funds must go to “transportation enhancements”, which are usually bike, ped, and public transit projects. Add to that the new Dept of Energy program that makes grant money available to bike projects, and we’ve got a whole mess o’ cash coming down the pipe to those government agencies that make a good ask.

So… Pakistan may be about to fall to the Taliban, and we use four million unrecycled plastic cups a day on airline flights alone, and apparently Providence is the hardest city in the US in which to live (that’s just bs), but I’m convinced that conditions for cyclists in Providence will continue to improve. And that Secretary LaHood is not a tool.


  • Apr 24, 2009 at 6:15 am

    I had heard LaHood speak at the National Bike Summit and he seemed like the real deal. It is such a refreshing change to have a USDOT that really cares about bicycles! Now we just need to make sure that RIDOT is doing everything they can to get their hands on this money AND that it's not all spent on bike paths!

  • Alan Barta
    Apr 25, 2009 at 8:45 am

    The fact that practically everyone acknowledges Providence is a pit can be a blessing. It can be remade into a bicycling mecca. Move over Amsterdam and Portland, here's comes the P… stand for Pedal.

    The only way to fix the potholes on Weybosset is to repave. Then restripe with a bike lane. Everywhere, eliminate on-street parking in favor of one motor lane and a bike lane. Fix sidewalks for shared use. We're already getting a bunch of racks. Convince AMTRAK to include a bike rack car. Put short bikeway segments through to terminals. Make back exits to malls and cul-de-sacs with micro-bikeways. Add free secure parking lots on otherwise abandoned periphery of city next to police substations, then put bikeways and trolley lines between them and downtown. How do you think Boston and New York support the millions of people who commute? Not by providing parking downtown, but with busses and subways.

    Where's the cash? It's being burnt on unsustainable motoring projects, a billion at a clip. Suspend new road building, and feds will give state money it needs to accomplish an national example of green planning.

    It it works, don't mess with it. When it doesn't, like Providence, scrap it and start over with sensible planning. If that requires voting in a new administration, do it.

    It's time Providence quits being a huge impediment to bicycling throughout the region.

  • Barry Schiller
    Apr 26, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Mark is right to credit Secretary La Hood, and indeed Rhode island is stepping up the "enhancement program" with stimulus money, but unfortunately none of it is going for bike projects.

    Enhancements added to the "TIP" due to the economic stimulus $$ are:

    Warren ave revitalization in East Prov; renovation of the Sakonnet lighthouse; Slater Mill/Roosevelt Ave; Manton Ave streetscape; and Kingston Station Signal Tower relocation. There is also a 3.3 million (by far the argest) "Westminster St revitalization" enhancement added, but so far I do not know what it entails.

    The DOT moved up the demolition of the old jamestown bridge fishing pier but did not move up the project to get bike access to the new bridge. Thus bridge repair on the Ea Bay path, the southern part of the Blackstone Bikeway (esp the part thru Pawtucket), the northernmost part of the Blackstone, the East Greenwich and Warwick multi-use paths, even though in the TIP, are all not funded and put off for the indefinite future, as are the Jamestown, Tiverton, Pontiac, and Northwest trails which remain in "study and development."

    On the Transportation Advisory Committee when the use of stimulus money came up, in response to concerns about the lack of anything for bikes, raised by me and the Dept of Health rep, DOT responded they were still working on the earmark bike projects, and none of the others were designed, hence not "shovel-ready." But they heard the concern and promised to address this in the future. We will see.