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 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.
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.