The Austin Bike Blog notes LaHood is a member of the Congressional Bike Caucus, though he also represents an area of downstate Illinois, a region I personally think is the least bike friendly in the nation.
What are your thoughts on Obama's apparent selection of Ray LaHood as Transportation Secretary?
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My thoughts are that the people most upset about this (as well as the names they've been moaning weren't picked instead) are mostly on the coasts. I'd laugh if Illinois weren't uncomfortably in the national spotlight right now for other reasons.
Anyway, people are shredding LaHood for his "People in rural Illinois are not for high-speed rail" comment, which I think was kind of true when he made it back in '04. When the train I took downstate for Thanksgiving was half-empty the busiest travel day of the year.
Well, things have changed since then, so I'm inclined to think that characterizing LaHood based on that remark might be unfair. Sounds like he's all for trains, just maybe not really fast ones. Or at least not yet. Has he said anything on HSR more recently?
Here's Ed Barsotti's (Exec. Director, League of IL Bicyclists) letter to the Thunderhead Alliance, if you haven't seen it already.
I don't think most people are necessarily upset about the choice of LaHood in particular. It is just that names like Oberstar and Blumenauer on the shortlist got advocates of cycling transportation pretty excited. Knowing their records regarding cycling and mass transit, I admit that I was pretty excited about the prospect of either of those guys as Secretary of Transportation. Still, I'll reserve judgment on LaHood until I see what he does. The fact that he has supported bicycling provisions in the past is encouraging. Without knowing much else about him, I feel confident that he is a big improvement over Mary Peters, so lets give him a chance.
...hopefully that brief but important meeting that obama had w/ tim b of 'bikes belong' & others at fk day's house (he of sram corp) before the election will carry over & add credence to any direction the new 'sec of trans' may go in, as regards intelligent solutions...
The thing is - Obama has made it pretty clear that he's looking at transportation infrastructure spending (read: highways) as a way to "create" new jobs etc. I would be surprised if there isn't an active push from staffers/assistant SecTran for alternatives, but if you're pushing road building you need someone who will champion it.
@James & @Jen & GR: I think you're right -- a lot of people really had high and perhaps unrealistic expectations. I've been reading up a bit more on LaHood and it appears he's fairly supportive of cycling.