WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Tuesday that he won't tolerate an increase in bicyclist and pedestrian deaths.
Foxx said he had experience with bike transportation issues as the mayor of Charlotte, N.C., prior to becoming Transportation Secretary less than a year ago.
"When I was the mayor, I helped oversee the development of complete streets in the City of Charlotte, and I also saw an uptick in bicyclist and pedestrian deaths occurring in our city. ... I didn't tolerate it as a mayor, and as U.S. Secretary of Transportation we certainly won't stand still and allow this crisis to slowly build up over time. Our roads should be safe; they should be easy places to travel, no matter how we're traveling on them."
"We certainly won't stand still and allow this crisis to slowly build" — Anthony Foxx
Foxx replaced Ray LaHood, who was largely seen as "bike-friendly." At the National Bike Summit, Foxx tried to show he was equally supportive, sharing a photo of him riding a bike at the launch of the first bike share program in the Southeast.
"I'm a huge fan of biking, and my family is as well," he said. "At the same time, I know, as all of you do, that in order for my family and your family to enjoy biking, there have to be people out there working behind the scenes to put in the right policies so the roads are safe for all of us. For 130 years, the League (of American Bicyclists) and biking community have done just that ... and I want to applaud you for the great work you do."
Foxx spoke to the bike group on the same day that President Obama released his fiscal 2015 budget proposal, which includes a $302 billion transportation bill.
"This transportation bill will modernize this nation's infrastructure," Foxx said. "This plan includes funding to close the gap in the Highway Trust Fund. ... The shortfall could hit us in the face as soon as August of this year, and by our estimate, 700,000 jobs hang in the balance. In order for this country to dramatically advance, build and extend the world's safest transportation network we have to do more than backfill the Highway Trust Fund; we have to invest in infrastructure in a much more robust way."
"It's not lost on me that you're probably asking, 'Where do bikes fit into this $302 billion plan?' " he added. "The budget details are being released today and we made sure that this plan increases resources to step up bicycle and pedestrian programs and the resources we need for our public transit systems, which are so important to people who walk and ride bicycles. ... I've made investing in bicycles and pedestrians a priority in the president's plan. ... We need to make sure Congress acts on this plan."
Overall, the Obama budget adds 2.2 percent to the Transportation Department's budget. It proposes nearly doubling funding for transit systems and passenger rail and proposes a $1.25 billion grant program to help states and cities with transportation projects.
According to the Transportation Department's 2015 Budget Highlights document, the president's proposal includes $122 million for highway safety research and analysis, which includes support of federal, state and local activities related to pedestrian and bicycle safety. That program is the only reference to bicycling in the highlights document.