Right now, it seems impossible to imagine a day when bicycles and pedestrians can equally share the roads with cars and trucks in the U.S., but Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood aims to make that day a reality. Recently, LaHood announced a "major policy revision" that will treat cyclists and walkers with policies similar to automobiles. LaHood's goal is to refocus efforts on non-motorized transportation by adopting policies that will encourage more people to consider these alternative transportation methods.
LaHood envisions future roadways built to accommodate not only vehicles, but also cyclists and walkers. As LaHood's policy states, "Walking and biking should not be an afterthought in roadway design." For example, snow should be cleared from bike pathways when streets are cleared, road maintenance should coincide with pathway maintenance, where roads and vehicles can go, so to should bikes and walkers.
By treating bicyclists and pedestrians as equals to the automobile, the new policy will encourage more people to travel via their own two feet. In addition, creating new pathways and maintaining those already in use will make traveling by bike significantly easier for those that already chose to.
Like any policy, LaHood's plan is not without critiques. Objections have surfaced from business owners, politicians and numerous other groups. Objections to the policy focus on jobs and job creation. Objectors have said, "you can't have jobs without the efficient movement of freight" and "what job is going to be created by having a bike lane" and even "the policy would undermine any effort the Obama administration has made towards jobs." These might be valid counter-arguments against the policy, but biking and walking are two of the most efficient, cleanest sources of travel known and we support LaHood's decision to back the cyclist for a greener future ahead. Plus, last time we checked, doing more work – like creating and maintaining bike lanes – requires more workers.
[Source: New York Times | Image: Herval - C.C. License 2.0]