Source: Mary Lauran Hall
Edtior's Note: This article originally appeared on Alliance for Biking and Walking and is reposted with permission.
There’s big news in the transportation world: President Obama has chosen a nominee for Secretary of Transportation. The President’s nominee to replace outgoing Secretary Ray LaHood at the helm of the Department of Transportation will be Anthony Foxx, Mayor of Charlotte, NC.
How will the new nominee shape up on biking and walking issues? To find out about Mayor Foxx’s support for biking and walking issues in Charlotte, I spoke with Tobe Holmes, a board member at the Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance, or CABA.
Tobe reported that Mayor Foxx supported innovations at the city Department of Transportation that helped give Charlotte residents plenty of choices about how to get around — including walking and biking.
“All in all, he’s been a very positive force in the past few years in terms of bicycling and walking,” said Tobe. “The DOT here really gets it, and they’re allowed to do some things that are a little more out of the box.”
Tobe reports that during his tenure, Mayor Foxx worked to improve multimodal transportation — and recognized the importance of funding positions within the city’s DOT to focus on biking and walking accessibility.
“During his tenure Mayor Foxx has been supportive of initiatives including an expansion the city’s bike route network, green bike lanes, bike boxes, sidewalk construction projects and other projects to meet bicycle and pedestrian needs,” Tobe said.
Perhaps the Mayor’s most memorable active transportation achievement was his leadership during the installation of the city’s bike sharing system by Charlotte Center City Partners. His understanding of its importance to the transportation network was essential to its launch in advance of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
“He was incredibly supportive of bike share,” Tobe said. “It wouldn’t have been possible to do it in that short of a timeframe without that sort of leadership. City departments seemed to bend over backwards to make it happen.”
The mayor has also strongly supported completion of a key 26-mile east-west stretch of the Carolina Thread Trail, a regional greenway network that reaches across 15 counties, connecting several destinations across Charlotte.
“He came out to the mayor’s bike ride on Friday, and that particular project was the focus of his remarks,” said Tobe. “He particularly supports this one project.”
Outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was a strong proponent of biking and walking in the U.S. transportation system. As Secretary, he attended every National Bike Summit, pedaled to the office during Bike To Work Day and publicly supported the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide. And in perhaps his most memorable gesture of support for active transportation, Secretary LaHood delivered an impromptu tabletop speech at the National Bike Summit Congressional Reception in which he declared “this is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”
In response to LaHood’s planned departure, biking and walking advocates encouragedPresident Obama to select a new Transportation Secretary who would continue to embrace all modes of transportation equally. We look forward to working with Mayor Foxx — a leader with a clear understanding of how making neighborhoods better for biking, walking and transit helps solve local transportation challenges.