When U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
stood on a table at the National Bike Summit in 2010 and said "People do want
alternatives -- they want out of their cars, they want out of congestion, they
want to live in livable neighborhoods," it marked a significant moment in the
evolution of American transportation.
Here was a politician and a bureaucrat, a guy in a suit, the
person in charge, talking about being inspired by long walks on a rail-trail
and the importance of pathways for families to "hang out and have fun." In the
words of Vince Vaughn, here was one enlightened cat.
With Sec. LaHood announcing last week he would step down
from the role of the nation's top transportation official he has filled since
2009, the urgency is building for supporters of trails and active
transportation to find a worthy replacement.
Marianne Fowler, RTC's senior vice president of federal relations,
says LaHood championed federal programs that supported investments in active
transportation infrastructure, often despite significant political pressure. "Secretary
LaHood was very much a leader of the movement, rather than a follower," she
says. "He'll leave behind a legacy of unprecedented support for biking, walking
and other active modes as legitimate forms of transportation." It was for that reason that Sec. LaHood was honored, with rail-trail advocates and pioneers from across the country, as one of RTC's 25 Rail-Trail Champions as part of our 25th Anniversary celebrations in 2011.
A former high school teacher, LaHood's great affection for
trails was born from many hours spent on the Rock Island Trail in his hometown
of Peoria, Ill. He became a staunch supporter of rail-trail programs during a
critical time for transportation funding, and his impassioned speech before
Congress in 2003 defending Transportation Enhancements earned him great respect
from active transportation advocates and provided one of the highest-profile
statements in defense of trails, walking and bicycling.
"I know it is probably not fashionable for me to be up here
talking in favor of this amendment, but I feel strongly about it," he said. "If
we really want Americans to be fit and healthy and get in good shape, the way
to do it is to allow for the enhancement program that has worked so well, that
allows people to get outdoors, to ride their bikes, to jog, to walk. What
better way to bring people in a community together."
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is leading a coalition of groups
from across America in urging President Obama to nominate a successor as transportation secretary who
understands the importance of trails, active transportation and healthy
Please take a quick minute to sign our petition asking the
president to continue the nation's progress toward a more modern, healthier and
sustainable transportation system - the America of the future will thank you!
Photo of Sec. LaHood at RTC's 25th Anniversary celebration in 2011 by RTC
Please nominate a transportation secretary who puts America's fitness first and is a champion of Rail Trails! We need walking and biking paths in our communities! Exercising together builds strong families. With strong minds and strong bodies, we learn better and are equipped to change the world for the better. Rail Trails develop an appreciation of nature and encourage people to stop at local farm stands and small restaurants by the trail rather than just shopping at malls, which keeps town economies thriving.
Video games need a mighty counter balance. Kids and parents need more time together not less. Americans need more time exercising and experiencing the beauty of our precious world. Please nominate a transportation secretary who will champion Rail Trails - for walking, jogging, biking, and commuting.
Please fund trails. Provide money to connect people and towns by Trail
Please have your new USDOT carry on the work
that Ray LaHood started. I'm 63 years old and love bike
riding on bike trails around Mgtn WV, and building bikes.
Mr. President, if only you and your family could ride for
one day, the C&O tow canal you would see what the joy is all
about . :)> Michael
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
Washington, DC 20037