Bringing Bicycling into the Mainstream: US DOT

“US DOT (Department of Transportation) hopes that public agencies, professional associations, advocacy groups, and others adopt this approach as a way of committing themselves to integrating bicycling and walking into the transportation mainstream.”  –from the USDOT guidance on Accommodating Bicycling and Pedestrian Travel

As has happened many times before in American history, the US Government is taking its cues from the people.  Lately people are walking and bicycling more.  US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s leadership has set the tone for viewing walking and bicycling as indicators of livability in healthy communities, and is helping to craft policies based on meeting the increasing demand for active transportation modes across the country.  The USDOT’s guidance calls for “intensive re-tooling and re-education of transportation planners and engineers” (p7) to accomplish the goal of “fully integrating bicyclists and pedestrians into the transportation system” (2).  For the visionary leadership and fine resources and high standards they are developing, the US DOT is my Bike Org of the Month for May, 2015.

The public transportation system threads together the fabric of our Nation.  Federal leadership serves as guidance for the State planning:   Public comments are being accepted by NM DOT through June 26.  Articulate your support for walking and bicycling.  Every voice counts.  Help New Mexico absorb the USDOT guidance.

Our actions speak the loudest.  During the recent initiative by the Albuquerque Parks and Recreation department to weed out the pesky ‘goathead’ plants and reseed with native grasses, two young people that just moved here from Texas volunteered to help with the task (pictures below).  What a way to get started making this your home.  People care about active transportation and want to get involved helping our walking and bicycling systems thrive.

Trail crew

Bosque trail better now

trail crew works

“You cannot build enough trails.”  –Greg Ballard, Mayor of Indianapolis, IN
“Helping children fall in love with nature should be…a top national and even international priority, right there alongside addressing climate change and preserving wilderness.” –John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado

We can gradually realize a positive transformation of the transportation system because of the integrity of the planning and coordination, and through our unwavering focus and commitment.  Citizens are leading the way with their involvement, grass roots organizing, and by walking and biking more and asking for competitive transit.  Governors understand that connecting people with places is essential for respecting cultures and environment.  Mayors realize providing a healthy living environment builds economic prosperity and brings out the best in people.  And regional planning agencies, counties, and cities are all reorganizing around the principle of synchronizing land use and transportation polices to achieve walkable and bicycling friendly communities.  On Sunday I bicycled out to “South 14” (pictures below) and it reminded me of how much existing excellence we already have to build on.  Paved shoulders on rural roads make it safer for everyone and open up a good option for cycling and walking to foster closer connections between people, and between people and the places where we live.  There were so many people cycling South 14 (aka NM 337) on Sunday!

S14 Sunday 2015.6.14

S14 Sunday Bikes Going Past 2015.6.14
climbing purple S14

“To know who you are, you have to have a place to come from.”  –Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, quoted in Wisdom Sits in Places by Keith H. Basso

Indian Paintbrush up in Northern New Mexico.  At a public meeting a citizen expressed the importance of better roads north of Santa Fe

Indian Paintbrush up in Northern New Mexico. At the June 4 NM DOT public meeting a citizen expressed the importance of improving roads north of Santa Fe


Further reading and sources:
KRQE did a story on the program to remove goatheads and restore the trails system land health with native grasses:

Another organization that was present to volunteer for trail work was the

Gred Ballard and other Mayors voice their support for bicycling’s transformative powers here.

John Hickenlooper quoted from this Denver Post article.

This US DOT document tells an interesting story about where we are coming from, includes a vision of where we are going, and how we can get there step by step.  Thank you US DOT, for developing these resources for America.  This is leadership on freedom.

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