Courtesy BikePortland via FlickrFour weeks ago Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood climbed on a table and declared the reign of the almighty auto was finished. Federal transportation funding would no longer favor cars at the expense of bicycling, walking, and mass transit, said the 65-year-old Republican from downstate Illinois. A few days later he followed up with details and an explanation that this is what Americans have been asking for.
The effects of his words have been rippling out ever since. Gleeful, perceptive, wary, and downright stupid responses are floating about on bike blogs, Streetsblog network members, and other transportation forums. Here are some of the most entertaining ones:
“Finally we have a Secretary of Transportation and not a Secretary of the Automobile,” says one of many enthusiastic commenters on LaHood’s Facebook page.
“A subtle cultural shift is underway,” says Keith Laughlin of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy: “We are witnessing a transition from the auto-dominated American lifestyle of the post-war years to something new.”
The secretary’s on drugs if he thinks biking and walking should count as real transportation, says Ohio Rep. Steven LaTourette: “If it’s not a typo, is there still mandatory drug-testing at the department?”
Auto-dependency makes our economy great, says National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) advisor Carter Wood: “Treating bicycles and other non-motorized transportation as equal to motorized transportation would cause an economic catastrophe.”
“As I think back to major economic catastrophes of the last 40 years, I am having a hard time finding any tell-tale trace of bicycle tire tracks,” responds League of American Bicyclists director Andy Clarke: “On the contrary, my recollection of significant recent economic crises is that they are invariably caused by our predeliction for foreign oil – the 1973/74 oil embargo; 1988 oil crisis; 2008 gas price increases…”
“Livability means having a decent highway,” Missouri Senator Kit Bond argues. Nothing like walking the kids and the dog down to the interstate for a game of catch on a summer’s eve…
Run them down, says ESPN radio host Tony Kornheiser, in a slightly related and thoroughly stupid rant: “Three or four of these people start riding abreast, and I swear to you it’s all you can do to not run them down, like Wile Coyote’s, run them over. Just stay on the right. Stay on the right. I’m happy to share the road with you, but by share the road what I mean is you have room on the right and I have room on the road. Get the hell out of my way. Am I wrong on this?”
“There’s a certain amount of Small Penis Syndrome evident in [Kornheiser’s] tone,” Chris Baskind says in a takedown plus constructive analysis on moreminimal.com. “A middle-aged man lamenting the end of his ‘large, powerful’ automobile’s highway primacy…”
Oh, and Ray LaHood commented on Ray LaHood too. From his Green Inc. interview yesterday:
People are always going to drive cars. We’re always going to have highways. We’ve made a huge investment in our interstate highway system. We’ll always continue to make sure that those investments in the highways are maintained.
But, what Americans want is to get out of their cars, and get out of congestion, and have opportunities for more transit, more light rail, more buses, and some communities are going to street cars. But many communities want the opportunity on the weekends and during the week to have the chance to bike to work, to bike to the store, to spend time with their family on a bike.