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May 11, 2010

DOT's Ray LaHood, Poster Child

By way of background: Eddy Merckx is a Belgian former professional cyclist. The French magazine Vélo called him "the most accomplished rider that cycling has ever known." The American VeloNews called him the greatest and most successful cyclist of all time. He won the Tour de France five times, won all the classics except Paris-Tours, won the Giro d'Italia five times and the Vuelta a España, won the world championship as both an amateur and a professional, and broke the world hour record. He was called The Cannibal by other riders for the way he ate them up on the race course.

Ray LaHood is the US Secretary of Transportation and a former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Illinois.

The cartoon Yehuda Moon takes place in a bike shop:

I was not expecting much when Mr. LaHood was nominated; he's a Republican in a Democratic administration, based more on his Chicago pedigree than his ideological balance, and I figured he was a hack. Also, during his watch the DOT has not done very well with Toyota, for instance.

Recent blog posts by Pittsburgher Eve Picker and the Huffington Post deal with DOT Secretary Ray LaHood's foray into bicycle policy.

I must say that I like his recent stint of bicycle advocacy. His blog says,
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.
Maybe the studied institutional nonchalance regarding Toyota's debacle is the first indication of LaHood's Darwinian philosophy. Why respond rapidly to complaints of crazy runwaway cars if you're trying to beat automotive hegemony?


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