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Pete Buttigieg Nominated as Transportation Secretary

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Pete Buttigieg Nominated as Transportation Secretary

Because the 2020 United States presidential election performed out with a backdrop of a pandemic and protest, it was simple to really feel as if nothing lower than the destiny of the world hung within the steadiness. Now as president-elect Joe Biden prepares to take workplace, we are able to all cease hyperventilating and begin assessing the implications of this lead to a extra pragmatic trend.

And with Biden’s announcement that he’ll nominate Pete Buttigieg, a former presidential opponent and erstwhile mayor of South Bend, Indiana, as his Secretary of Transportation, one query we cyclists can enable ourselves to ask is: What does this imply for individuals who journey bikes?

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“I’m nominating him for Secretary of Transportation as a result of this place stands on the nexus of so most of the interlocking challenges and alternatives forward of us,” Biden stated in his announcement. Certainly Buttigieg could be on the helm of a division whose mission is “to make sure America has the most secure, most effective, and fashionable transportation system on the earth, which boosts our financial productiveness and world competitiveness and enhances the standard of life in communities each rural and concrete.”

As we proceed to expertise a bike boom throughout america, it’s solely pure to surprise if Buttigieg himself actually appreciates the diploma to which bikes might help us deal with a few of these these “interlocking challenges and alternatives,” or if he even rides himself.

So is Buttigieg considered one of us? Effectively, you gained’t discover any photographs of him on a Grant Petersen-era Bridgestone. (Principally we simply see him posing with or driving Lime bikes in a mayoral capability.)

Nevertheless, the League of American Bicyclists did award Silver Level status to South Bend in 2018. Two years earlier than that, Buttigieg traveled with then-U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and several other different mayors to Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Oslo to discover multi-modal transport; in receiving the Silver Stage certification, Buttigieg cited Copenhagen (which has a few of the highest rates of cycling in the world, regardless of the chilly climate) as an inspiration for his push to make South Bend extra bike-friendly. Driving in these cities is usually a revelation for Individuals accustomed to “sharing” the streets with multi-ton autos, so the truth that Buttigieg has not solely skilled bicycle utopia firsthand but in addition apparently taken it to coronary heart ought to please many bike advocates.

In fact, Buttigieg outlined an infrastructure plan (now archived) throughout his personal presidential marketing campaign, so we are able to look to that for extra proof of the place his bike sensibilities lie. It begins out decidedly car-centric, stating that “glorious infrastructure allows our communities to thrive” when “mother and father could make their child’s soccer recreation or get residence in dinner time relatively than sitting in site visitors for hours.” (Okay, however think about how a lot much less site visitors there could be if extra mother and father rode bikes to their children’ soccer video games as a substitute.)

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As for bike-specific coverage, the plan does name for “doubling funding for the Transportation Alternate options Program to put in extra accessible sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes.” Extra audaciously, it might have additionally established “a nationwide Imaginative and prescient Zero aim” that may “require states to actively enhance their security information or street design processes, or else lose federal funding for different roadway tasks.”

Such a coverage could be according to the “complete streets” coverage advocacy teams throughout America are advancing, by which roadways must be designed in such a approach that everybody can use them safely, together with bicyclists. Buttigieg’s Smarter Streets initiative for South Bend is proof that he embraces the concept full streets assist communities thrive. (South Bend did see increased investment following the implementation of Smarter Streets, although the death of an 11-year-old child referred to as a few of the adjustments into query.)

However Buttigieg didn’t win the 2020 presidential election; Biden did. So what concerning the president-elect’s personal transportation coverage? “The Biden Plan To Invest In Middle Class Competitiveness” notes “the speedy adoption of electrical scooters and bike-share packages,” however goes on to say that “the largest disruption lies forward: self-driving vehicles.” Advocates are inclined to cringe at any point out of a self-driving future (they like to think about a no-driving future), although Biden does go on to say that autonomous autos would require “reshaping streets to guard cyclists and scooters.” It will little doubt irritate the not-insignificant variety of cyclists who resent being lumped in with scooters—however you may’t win ’em all.

The Biden Plan To Build A Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure And An Equitable Clean Energy Future” (whew!) additionally mentions bikes, pledging to supply “each American metropolis with 100,000 or extra residents with high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation choices,” together with “infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists.” As for individuals who additionally wish to journey only for the hell of it, Biden says he’ll “construct climbing and biking trails and entry to different leisure facilities”—which is fairly obscure even by marketing campaign promise requirements, however yay for biking to facilities.

One thing else that may be telling in itself is the individuals who Biden didn’t nominate as Secretary of Transportation. If Biden had chosen, say, Janette Sadik-Khan—the previous New York Metropolis Division of Transportation commissioner, who engineered the town’s seismic shift in the direction of bike- and pedestrian-centric infrastructure—then that may have been a transparent message that he was all in on the Bicycle Lobby and that profound change was afoot. As it’s, Sadik-Khan’s successor, Polly Trottenberg, has joined Biden’s transition team, and whereas Trottenberg definitely continued to maneuver New York Metropolis ahead from a bicycling perspective, it’s not but clear what position (if any) she’s going to play within the Biden administration going ahead.

Talking of bicycles and perspective, it’s necessary to keep in mind that that is nonetheless America: 3.7 million sq. miles, 300 million folks, $20 trillion GDP, and a shitload of vehicles and vehicles and issues that go. The U.S. Division of Transportation operates eleven companies together with the FAA, the FRA, and the NHTSA. We might take the life-changing potential of the bicycle with no consideration, however we must also think about how a lot consideration the individual answerable for ensuring trains don’t derail and airplanes don’t fall out of the sky will truly commit to a mode of transport used by only 0.6% of all American workers, his inclusive rhetoric however.

However, Buttigieg does have one thing going for him that some have referred to as a legal responsibility: he’s a small-town mayor who professes to know the wants of native communities. “Beneath my administration,” Buttigieg stated in his own infrastructure plan, “native governments will lastly have a associate in Washington.” He additionally stated in his plan that he’d “double the BUILD program,” which benefits local bicycling projects across the country.

Whereas he can’t wave a magic wish to make any of this occur, a Secretary of Transportation who thinks domestically remains to be excellent news for bikes, as a result of bikes have an effect on constructive change at a neighborhood degree; nearly 60% of vehicle trips in America are under six miles, and changing a few of these journeys with bicycles would go a good distance in the direction of making our communities safer, more healthy, and cleaner. To be able to unleash the transformative energy of the bicycle you don’t have to construct huge interstates, you simply have to create safe routes to school, and to make it doable for folks to make use of bicycles safely and comfortably in their very own cities and cities.

A journey of a thousand miles takes a single step, and some extra bike lanes right here and there can go a good distance.

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