Last week we saw some politicians try to score points by attacking Secretary LaHood’s call for a more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly Department of Transportation. Fortunately, that hasn’t deterred others from standing up and supporting the secretary’s vision.
The ever-busy and effective advocacy organization, BikeWalkLee (Lee County, Florida) announced that their Municipal Planning Organization (MPO) board unanimously passed a motion in support of the USDOT policy statement. They encouraged Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to support it as well.
BikeWalkLee immediately thanked the MPO for their support. “BikeWalkLee is gratified by the continued leadership and commitment demonstrated by the MPO led by Chairman Judah to complete Lee County’s streets and to integrate the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists in road projects,” said Darla Letourneau, a local community advocate and BikeWalkLee leader. “Not only is the MPO leading the county’s efforts, its quick endorsement of this policy statement puts Lee County in the forefront of communities around the country who recognize the significance of this bold action by the Secretary of Transportation. In fact, Lee County may be the first in the country to have officially endorsed the new policy.”
They may be the first – does anyone know of others? – but it is important that they are not the last to make their support public. We need to see more official statements of support for two reasons. First, the Secretary did not need to make this policy statement. He did it because he understands the benefits of non-motorized travel. But no savvy policy maker is going to stick his or her neck out repeatedly unless they see support for their efforts. Statements of the kind made by the Lee County MPO will help ensure the Secretary and others who share the vision will continue to speak out. Second, words need to be only the beginning. As bicyclists and advocates, we need to encourage the USDOT, state DOTs, and MPOs to back up their words with action. There are dozens of good bicycle and pedestrian projects in every region that need to be funded and pushed efficiently through the funding and building process.
Please encourage your MPO, county and state agencies to publicly support the DOT non-motorized transportation policy.
UPDATE: Here is the language of the motion that the Lee MPO unanimously passed:
Motion: That the MPO Board pass a motion in support of the USDOT Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations, announced by Secretary LaHood on 3/15/2010, and that FDOT be encouraged to also support this policy statement.
Here’s the story of how they got it done:
A supportive member of the Lee MPO asked Darla Letourneau of BikeWalkLee to make a public comment about the requested motion. Darla addressed some regional issues and then went through the main points of the policy statement. She told the group that the USDOT policy statement encourages states, local governments and public transportation agencies to adopt similar policy statements. She commended the leadership of the MPO for passing a Complete Streets policy in 2009, and closed with this: “To demonstrate your continued commitment and to better position Lee County/SW Florida for complete streets grant opportunities, we request that you pass a motion today stating your support of this USDOT Policy Statement and encouraging FDOT to also support this USDOT Policy Statement.”
Our thanks to Darla Letourneau.
League Policy Director
Flusche joined the League in April 2009 and has a B.A. in history from Syracuse University and a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in public policy analysis from New York University.