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Sec. LaHood Says Rail-Trails Are Key to Public Health

RTC was very pleased to have U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood attend our 25th anniversary reception in downtown Washington, D.C., earlier this month. Sec. LaHood has long been a vocal supporter of rail-trails and active transportation, and we were proud to honor him as one of the 25 Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champions, along with a diverse group of community leaders, volunteers, elected officials and municipal staff from 17 states across America.

Sec. LaHood was also the evenings' keynote speaker, and his comments about the importance of trails to the future of America gave us all great reason for optimism.

Continuing a growing shift in public health strategy toward active transportation as a crucial aspect of preventative health care, Sec. LaHood said that encouraging more biking and walking is one of the most important things we can do in the nation's battle against obesity and related illness. He said the rail-trail program "has done more for health care than anything we've ever done in America. Rail-trails have contributed so much to people's good health over the last 25 years--also preventing heart disease, and providing the kinds of opportunities people have looked for, for a long, long time."

As a member of Congress from his home state of Illinois, Sec. LaHood was instrumental in the creation of the Rock Island Trail State Park in Peoria. And as Secretary of Transportation, he has helped inaugurate bike share programs in Washington, D.C., and Denver, Co., as well as offer high-profile and influential national leadership in support of trails. 

Sec. LaHood is perhaps best remembered by active transportation advocates for his impassioned speech on the floor of Congress in 2003, when he defended the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program--the largest source of funding for trails, walking and bicycling facilities--which continues to face legislative threats in the current Congress.

RTC President Keith Laughlin describes Sec. LaHood as "a strong and consistent voice on behalf of trails funding. He has been the best rail-trail champion we have ever had within the executive branch of government. His commitment to our cause is unwavering."

Paying homage to his fellow Rail-Trail Champions, and other community volunteers across the nation, Sec. LaHood said their work was having a significant, and measurable, impact on the landscape that would long be appreciated. He said his experiences walking and riding along the Rock Island, Illinois Prairie Path and C&O Canal towpath convinced him that trails were the key to building a healthier, happier America.

"All along the way, you know what I see?" he asked those assembled. "Families, kids, people having fun, and also getting good exercise."

The 2011 Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champions represented 25 communities in 17 states across America. We will be posting a blog story on each of the honorees during the coming weeks, so stay tuned to the RTC TrailBlog to read these inspiring stories of the men and women who have helped shape our trails landscape.

Photo of Sec. LaHood by Scott Stark.  


Posted Fri, Oct 14 2011 12:00 PM by Jake Lynch


Tim wrote re: Sec. LaHood Says Rail-Trails Are Key to Public Health
on Sat, Oct 15 2011 12:19 AM

Excellent & going miss Sec.  LaHood after Jan. 2013.   Tim.

RTC TrailBlog wrote Obama Must Replace LaHood With Worthy Successor at USDOT
on Tue, Feb 5 2013 12:11 PM

When U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stood on a table at the National Bike Summit


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