Promoting Livability and Livable Communities

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at the National Bike SummitBack in January, we reported on one of President Obama’s urban policy goals, which should push our local road agencies and elected officials to build more bike-friendly communities:

Build More Livable and Sustainable Communities: Our communities will better serve all of their residents if we are able to leave our cars to walk, bicycle and access other transportation alternatives.

In March, the Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood further addressed livable communities in his blog by saying, “One of my highest priorities is … to help promote more livable communities through sustainable surface transportation programs.”

LaHood reiterated that message at the National Bike Summit since livable communties are bikeable communities and Complete Streets.

Again from his blog:

The upcoming reauthorization of DOT’s surface transportation programs provides an opportunity for us to feature bicycling as part of a new American mobility within livable communities.

Now more recently, LaHood outlined six livibility principles that “help us coordinate federal transportation, environmental protection, and housing investments at our respective agencies.”

  1. Providing more transportation choices;
  2. Expanding access to affordable housing, particularly housing located close to transit;
  3. Enhancing economic competitiveness, giving people access to jobs, education and services as well as giving businesses access to markets;
  4. Targeting federal funds toward existing communities to spur revitalization and protect rural landscapes;
  5. Increasing collaboration among federal, state, and local governments to better target investments and improve accountability;
  6. Valuing the unique qualities of all communities–whether urban, suburban, or rural.

Clearly, at least for most of Metro Detroit, the federal government is taking the lead promoting livable communties. How that filters down to our local level remains to be seen, but certainly transportation funding will play a major role.

And for now, it seems bicycle advocates need to start using the terms “livability” and “livable communities” when we push for Complete Streets, bike lanes, etc.

We have friends and support in Washington D.C.

We need to take advantage of that as we try bringing Metro Detroit’s transportation priorities into the 21st century.

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