Turning to the longer-term transportation policy, we need to consider that over the next 50 years the U.S. population is expected to rise by over 60 percent, and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to quadruple. As our population grows, and as incomes rise, the demand for transportation will grow accordingly. The question is how will we respond to this demand?
Since 1970, there has been a 173 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled (VMT; the total miles traveled by all U.S. vehicles), while the population grew 47 percent. In other words, VMT increased at almost four times the rate of population growth. Notwithstanding some anticipated reduction in VMT growth in the near term, reflecting the current downturn in the economy, this growth trend is clearly unsustainable.
In the past, population and economic growth have always led to large increases in highway travel. This is because most communities’ have built transportation systems that only allow people and goods to move by road. This Administration believes that people should have options to get to work, school, the grocery or the doctor that do not rely solely on driving. We want to transform our transportation system into a truly multimodal system with strong alternatives to driving in order to maximize highway capacity, combat traffic congestion, reduce our reliance on oil and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
-Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation for President Obama in testimony before the Committee on Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security
Great news out today from Secretary of Transporation Ray LaHood. The administration is making a shift in how it views bicycle and pedestrian investments. This from the Secretary’s own Fastlane Blog:
Today, I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.
We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.
To set this approach in motion, we have formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities:
- Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
- Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
- Go beyond minimum design standards.
- Collect data on walking and biking trips.
- Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
- Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
- Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.
Now, this is a start, but it’s an important start. These initial steps forward will help us move forward even further.
Awesome. This is exactly the sort of smart transportation planning we have been advocating for. Transit Miami applauds the change and looks forward to seeing it implemented. If the recent success of the TIGER stimulus grants are any indication of the federal commitment to complete streets, this latest proclamation is yet another step in the right direction.
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