Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Promoting Livability and Livable Communities

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

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.

New Partners for Smart Growth

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

800px-flag_of_albuquerque_new_mexicosvgToday a group of us from Detroit are heading to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the 8th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth conference.

It looks like they really have some great sessions.

It’s likely that some of the excitement and energy from yesterday’s inauguration will be present at the conference.  It certainly seems the new Obama administration is more supportive of smart growth.

From freshly-updated urban policy agenda:

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. President Obama will re-evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account.

The tagline for the conference?  Building Safe, Healthy and Livable Communities.

It’s almost as if they shared the same author.

The Potential Downside to the Economic Stimulus

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

There’s been a big push by many groups to get Green projects in the Obama economic stimulus package.  We’ve already mentioned the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s push.  The DNR Parks division has submitted about a quarter-million in infrastructure projects.  The Detroit Greenways Coalition has their trails submitted as well.

That’s all the good news.

The fear however is this stimulus package will also fund a significant amount of road expansion.


While many states are keeping their project lists secret, plans that have surfaced show why environmentalists and some development experts say much of the stimulus spending may promote urban sprawl while scrimping on more green-friendly rail and mass transit.

“It’s a lot of more of the same,” said Robert Puentes, a metropolitan growth and development expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington who is tracking the legislation. “You build a lot of new highways, continue to decentralize” urban and suburban communities and “pull resources away from transit.”

And decentralizing/sprawl also hurts bikability and walkability.

Some local concerns involve planned expressway expansion, notably I-75 in Oakland County and I-94 in Detroit.  Neither project made financial sense long before the recent declines in vehicle miles traveled.  Now they make less sense.

And they’re certainly not green, but they might get in the stimulus package.

The I-94 project is especially bad in that it would remove nine bridges over the expressways — permanently blocking bicycle routes within Detroit’s non-motorized transportation master plan.

And because the highway expansion was planned before the non-motorized plan, MDOT is ignoring the latter.  However, reading their Final Environmental Impact Statement only shows that MDOT wasn’t going to let non-motorized priorities get in the way of an expressway expansion.

That said, there’s not too much we can do until MDOT’s economic stimulus list becomes public and we see what’s on the list.

Trails & the Economic Stimulus Package

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Got 30 seconds to donate to help us improve biking in Michigan?

If you do, please visit the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy web site, fill in their simple form, and tell President-elect Obama that you want funding for trails in the economic stimulus package.

There’s been a mad rush behind the scenes to collect information on “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects.  While road and bridge projects will likely be funded through this package, we’d prefer seeing some greener alternatives.

And biking and walking certainly fit with Obama’s call to reduce our demand for foreign oil.  Studies show that building biking and walking facilities induces more to choose these green modes of transportation.

C’mon.  It’s just 30 seconds.

President-Elect Obama and Biking

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Much has been written about the recent U.S. presidential election, but one question for us is, “How does this affect federal bicycling funding and policy?”

Earlier this year the bike industry met with Senator Obama:

Stan Day, SRAM’s president, said that Obama “gets it.” He pointed out that Obama understands that bicycles can be part of a solution to issues as diverse as health care, obesity, energy and environmental policy. “He does his homework and he can connect the dots,” he said.

After winning the election, Obama’s team created a web site to discuss his upcoming term, its direction, and policy.  And it does discuss bicycling among its urban policy goals:

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. As president, Barack Obama will re-evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account.

Yes, he “gets it.”

And, two of the names being bandied about for his Transportation Director are major cycling supporters: Earl Blumenauer and James Oberstar.  Both would be a huge boost for bicycling and Safe Routes to School advocates.

But we shouldn’t forget how absolutely awesome it was having a serious mountain biker in President George W. Bush.  That did wonders for the perception of mountain biking as a sport; it’s not just for young folks.

o how soon before Obama is riding mountain bike trails?  Certainly that question has already been asked at IMBA.

Stay tuned…