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
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
"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.
Excellent & going miss Sec. LaHood after Jan. 2013. Tim.
When U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stood on a table at the National Bike Summit
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
Washington, DC 20037