- Briefing Room
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters
I'm glad to be with you. I hope you're enjoying your time in the Nation's Capital, and we are very glad that you are here.
I haven't been a Washington resident for long. I was sworn in October 2 of last year. And since then I've been exploring my new neighborhood. I've done some of that exploring on my bike. I've used the Capital Crescent Trail. And from my apartment in Crystal City, just across the Potomac River, I've ridden the Mt. Vernon Trail as well. I'm not good on endurance, but I love riding.
Many people in our country use bikes for more than recreation. For them, bikes are their vehicle for the commute to work and for the errands of daily life. We need every mode of transportation to keep America mobile. What modes did you use to get to your hotel? Very few of us depend on a single mode.
Even though I'm the head of the highway agency, I take public transit to work. The head of the transit agency drives. We tend to do what works best for us depending on our age, our physical condition, where we live, and a host of other factors.
Secretary Mineta sends his regrets for not being with you today -- he had hip replacement surgery about a month ago. The Secretary has said, and I quote: "Bicycle and pedestrian facilities and programs are an integral part of our nation's transportation system for the 21st century. Our national transportation system must meet the needs of all our customers, including bicyclists."
I strongly agree with the Secretary. Bicyclists are an integral part of our nation's transportation system and we all need to work together to develop a better more balanced transportation system that provides facilities and programs for bicyclists on a routine basis.
In planning, designing, and operating our nation's transportation system and its related programs, the needs of all users - and that clearly includes bicyclists - should be considered from the moment planning starts on a new project.
To further explain that important point, I would like to talk about what FHWA and the other agencies of U.S. DOT have done and are continuing to do to help communities include bicycle accommodations and programs as part of their overall transportation network.
After that, I would like to ask for your assistance on a particular issue.
Within the Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration is responsible for administering federal funding and providing technical assistance to States and local communities that are planning, designing, and operating facilities and programs for bicyclists. However, it is the states and the local communities who decide which projects to fund and how much of their money will be spent on bicycle facilities.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is responsible for training, education, and safety efforts such as programs to encourage bicycle helmet use.
The Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration deal with bicycle safety and accommodation where it interacts with railroads and mass transit respectively.
We all -- every agency within DOT -- share responsibility for mobility and safety.
The Department as a whole administers the Federal-aid funding that can be used to build bicycle projects and deliver programs. Federal-aid spending on pedestrian and bicycle projects and programs has risen from $17 million in 1991 to over $339 million in FY 2001.
That's a phenomenal change, but it still represents less than one percent of the funding available for modes of travel that represent nearly 15 percent of traffic fatalities and six percent of trips made in this nation.
ISTEA and TEA-21 allow - but do not require - spending on bicycle projects. These are dollars that states and localities have chosen to spend on projects and programs. The money could be spent on other transportation projects, but decision makers at state and regional levels chose to spend in this way because they believe the projects are good public investments.
I am a strong believer in decision-making at the state and local level.
Traditional construction program funds -- not just the Transportation Enhancement program -- can be used for bicycle-related projects, and even sometimes for bicycle education and promotion activities. The TE program itself has an underused category for bicycle safety and educational opportunities.
Another area where FHWA and the U.S. DOT offer assistance is in providing technical and professional training. For practicing transportation engineers, there is a new bicycle facility design course to be piloted in Ohio next month.
Most transportation professionals in the U.S. never received any training in school on how to design a project that considers the needs of bicyclists. We want to bring them up to speed and this course will go a long way toward meeting that need.
FHWA and NHTSA are working together to update an existing introductory course on bicycle and pedestrian safety and accommodations. We have also developed a graduate level course for transportation planners, engineers, and others responsible for designing facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists.
With the dramatic rise in Federal-aid spending on bicycle and pedestrian projects has come an equally dramatic rise in the need for technical assistance. TEA-21 created a national clearinghouse, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC). The Center has created a comprehensive website that receives increasing numbers of visits each month. In February alone, the website had 30,000 hits.
It has been an outstanding resource and a significant complement to our efforts. You can visit the website at www.bicyclinginfo.org
Each year we bring together the State DOT bicycle and pedestrian coordinators to share ideas and success stories and this year we will also be hosting a meeting of regional and local bicycle and pedestrian coordinators. Both meetings will be held in conjunction with the ProBike ProWalk Conference in early September in St Paul, Minnesota.
We work with a broad range of partners in our bicycle efforts. Recently, the health community has joined with us to promote bicycling and walking as a means of easily achievable exercise for individuals whose health is threatened by weight and inactivity.
In another partnership, NHTSA, FHWA, and staff from the Centers for Disease Control worked with a diverse group of bicycle advocates, injury prevention specialists, and others to develop the "National Strategies for Advancing Bicycle Safety - A Call To Action."
The document, released in May 2001, seeks to change the cycling environment in significant ways by addressing five key goals:
1) Motorists will share the road
Under each goal is a series of strategies and action steps. Different member agencies, including the League of American Bicyclists, have taken on each of these goals and are making real progress toward implementation.
NHTSA is supporting the League's Education Leaders Conference scheduled for June 2-5, 2002 in Madison, Wisconsin. The National Strategies document and the role of conference participants in implementation will be discussed at the conference.
NHTSA also supported two Safe Routes to Schools demonstration projects, one in Marin County, California and one in Arlington, Massachusetts. A best practices guide is being written to help states and communities developing Safe Routes to School programs.
As always, we are producing a host of tools and products from our research and in our program offices designed to meet the needs of professionals designing and operating programs for bicyclists.
NHTSA and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics are supporting a national telephone survey of more than 5,000 adult respondents to assess public attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors regarding pedestrian and bicyclist safety and accommodation.
We'll be asking motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians about the trips they make and about how they relate to each other on those trips. We plan to conduct the survey in June. Among other things, the results will help us measure the amount of bicycling and walking across the United States.
There will be a FHWA TEA-21 listening session later today to hear what you feel is working and what needs to be changed with regard to bicycling when legislation is reauthorized by Congress.
I'm glad you are here and are going to be involved. The next few months will be crucial in the development of the next major transportation act.
Please tell us what needs changing and what needs improving. We want to hear from you.
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE
Now, for the assistance I mentioned. We need your help to identify the success stories of bicycling. We need to learn which projects and programs have produced measurable results. We need to know what kind of promotional efforts has increased the number of people bicycling in your community.
We are circulating a form you can use to identify projects and programs that have produced real results. We are asking you to send this information to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. They will follow up with you to get more information and to publicize the results.
We need data to justify and support bike expenditures and you are the folks who know what's going on. Sometimes we don't have good data, sometimes we don't have any data gathered after a project is completed.
After a bike lane or path is built, how much is it used? Where are the riders going? We need to know.
So anyone who has a study or who is collecting data, please share what you learn with the Information Center.
Thank you for inviting me to your Summit.
Eventually we should reach a point, sometime soon I hope, when we do not need to make sure that the voice of bicyclists is heard. You are an integral part of the nation's transportation system and accommodating your needs should be a routine part of every new project.
Until that day comes, I'm glad you are here in Washington, making your interest, really your love of bicycling known, and making sure your voice is heard.