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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Are We On Our Way to A National Bicycle Policy?

Will the Obama administration bring us a National Bicycle Policy?

If you follow the news and read the blogs there are hints that we may be working our way that direction – a big change from the policies of the Bush administration. It was his Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters, after all who said that we were wasting federal tax dollars by building bike paths and trails which are “not really transportation.”

If you are interested in following these developments, here are just a few of the people and policies you might want to watch:

1) Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s “bicycle commuter act” allows employers to provide $20 per month annually to incentivize bicycle commuters. Use it to pay for secure bike parking, buy a bike, or buy the equipment necessary for safe cycling. This bill passed as a rider in the famous Wall Street “bailout.” Sort of a default “gift” from the Bush administration.

2) Congressman Ray LaHood, an Illinois Republican, is leaving the House to become Secretary of Transportation. Lahood is a moderate Republican who has been a friend of bicycling according to Ed Barsotti, head of the League of Illinois Bicyclists. Read Barsotti’s thoughts on LaHood here. Among others, LaHood favors Rails to Trails and has spoken in favor of the Transportation Enhancements program that gives us most of the nation’s bike paths and bike lanes.

3) The National Park Service will allow park superintendents to open new trails in our national parks to mountain biking according to a ruling published in the Federal Register. Maybe one good thing to come out of the Bush administration? Read more about this at Spokes ‘n’ Folks.

4) The Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) reports that a US Bike Route System is in the works. The biggest news here is that it involves both ACA and AASHTO, the (American Association of State High Transportation Officials). This latter group
“foster[s] the development, operation, and maintenance of an integrated national transportation system. So having these highway geeks thinking about a national bike route is a big deal. Learn more at the Adventure Cycling Association.

5) Last, but not least, UPS has begun bicycle deliveries during peak times in some areas. The NYTimes reports that story in a copyrighted story Dec. 19, 2008. Raise your hand if you’d like to be a UPS bicycle delivery person when you grow up!

Follow all these stories and more in John Hopkins’ blog, Spokes ‘n’ Folks from the Green Mobility Network.

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