Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Re-Elect Ray LaHood

I don't normally get political, but when the next elections come around I am going to volunteer to help re-elect Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. Further, I am going to ask all of my loyal readers (or should I say "both of my loyal readers" ... or maybe just "both of my readers") to vote for Ray. Assuming that Princess can vote.

"Do Some Good - Vote for LaHood. Arf."

Why am I so fired up about Ray? Well, because of the latest United States Department of Transportation Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations (or USDTPSBPARR -- pronounced "WOW" -- for short).

Now, like most of you, I don't usually get excited reading anything that has the words "Policy Statement" in the title. (Louis L'Amour's classic "Gunfight at the Policy Statement Ranch" is about the only exception that comes to mind.) But this thing rocks!

For one, it's short. That's very good, because it has a lot of big words, no action, and no pictures. (Here's a free tip to the DOT: Next time you do one of these, consider how you could do it as a manga cartoon.)

But the best thing about this document is that it states that the Department of Transportation will no longer follow its policy of only pretending to give a rat's a$$ about cyclists, but will "proactively provide convenient, safe, and context-sensitive facilities that foster increased use by bicyclists and pedestrians."

Yeah, when I first read this I thought the same thing that you did: I shouldn't have gotten jalapenos on that burger at lunch. But then I read the next sentence, and it knocked my socks off:

"Transportation programs and facilities should accommodate people of all ages and abilities, including people too young to drive, people who cannot drive, and people who choose not to drive."

By the way, Ray did not (for some reason) put that last part in big bold letters. I did that. I'm sure that Ray, in retrospect, meant to put them in big bold letters. Ray and I are simpatico like that.

In case you didn't notice, I am a person who chooses not to drive. If "not driving" is ever an option -- and this probably includes times when most sane people think that driving is the only option -- then I am choosing that option. The not driving option, I mean.

Of course, policy statements are usually just so much blather. "It is our policy to do good." "The company's policy is to maximize revenues and foster responsible growth." "Blah diddy blah de blah de blah de blah."

But Ray went further. He added "Recommended Actions." Of course, these are just recommendations, but some of them really spoke to me ... and not just in that creepy little girl's voice that I sometimes hear from the back of the bedroom closet.

Here are some of the Recommended Actions, and what each means (at least to me ... and, let's be honest, that's what really counts):
"Considering walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes ... transportation agencies should give the same priority to walking and bicycling as is given to other transportation modes. Walking and bicycling should not be an afterthought in roadway design."
RandoBoy Translation: Every time the DOT builds a road, they have to consider how I can safely bike on it.
"Going beyond minimum design standards ... For example, shared-use paths that have been designed to minimum width requirements will need retrofits as more people use them ... Planning projects for the long-term should anticipate likely future demand for bicycling and walking facilities and not preclude the provision of future improvements."
RandoBoy Translation:  DOT will build more and better bike paths.
"Improving nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects: Many transportation agencies spend most of their transportation funding on maintenance rather than on constructing new facilities. Transportation agencies should find ways to make facility improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists during resurfacing and other maintenance projects."
RandoBoy Translation: When DOT paves a road, they should consider widening it as well to add a bike lane ... or at least a decent shoulder.

I'm excited about all of these, but Ray really got me with that last one. TDOT is about to re-pave Holt Road, which is just a couple of miles from the RandoCave. If they were to put a bike lane on that, or at least a decent shoulder, I would ride that road to work -- thus cutting an extra two miles off of my daily commute.

I'll vote for anybody that can get that done.


  1. I suppose the most loyal readers never post comments, and simply savor your nuggets of wisdom in silence....or were those doggie biscuits?

  2. My nuggets of wisdom are like the "biscuits" that Princess leaves in the yard.

  3. Holt road has gotten worse every time they touch it with equipment. Here's hoping they do something good to it... and no rumble strips please.

  4. tell me more about these biscuits.