Leave it to the politicians. Recently Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood stood on a table at the National Bike Summit to deliver an impassioned speech (as Tyler wrote just below, check it out) that was arguably the biggest support for cycling to come out of Washington so far. Unfortunately, no more than two days later, a group of Republicans bashed LaHood in a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. More so than just ridicule alone, Republican House members led by Ohio Representative Steven LaTourette went as far as to suggest that LaHood was on drugs!
Amidst laughter from other House members, LaTourette suggested that environmental sustainability projects have “stolen” $300 million from the “real” transportation budget, and proceeded to accuse LaHood on a personal level stating “If it’s not a typo, is there still mandatory drug-testing at the department?” On an even more personal level for myself, LaTourette also questioned as to “What job is going to be created by having a bike lane?” I suppose every job that is created at a bike shop, bike manufacturer, component manufacturer, bicycle advocacy group, bicycle media, or even the transportation employees that physically make the bike lanes don’t count (I’m sure I left out many other bicycle industry jobs as well). I can only assume that none of LaTourette’s campaign supporters fall into any of these categories.
Republican Tom Latham (IA) also joined in on the attacks, quipping that any cyclist is one less person paying into the transportation trust fund and claimed that “real” transportation needs are being swept aside. So not only is anyone who considers commuting by bike on drugs, but it’s not a “real” method of transportation anyways.
I live in Ohio, and upon trying to contact Rep. LaTourette via his government web page, I was informed that I was not in LaTourette’s district and that I should contact the representative from my district to voice my concerns.
Thanks to Nick Wilson for the story, read the whole thing here.