U.S. transportation secretary says he is pushing for bike, pedestrian networks
September 10, 2014 10:44 PM
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx addresses the audience at the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference today at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
By Andrew Goldstein / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Anthony Foxx has experienced the dangers of walking on city streets “up close and personal.”
The former mayor of Charlotte, N.C., was jogging down the street one morning before work when he came to an intersection where a car making a right turn bumped him in the knee as he attempted to cross the street. He was not injured, but the incident galvanized him to think about the issues pedestrians face.
“This is not just an issue of behavior on the part of people who are bicycling or people who are walking or using the streets as pedestrians — it’s an issue of making sure that we have created definable places for folks to travel however they travel,” he said. “So this is an issue that I feel very passionately about.”
Mr. Foxx, who is now the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, noted the importance of creating transportation networks where everyone can be safe as he addressed the crowd Wednesday morning at the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. In 2013, pedestrian-related crashes represented 3.5 percent of all reported accidents in Pennsylvania, and bicycle crashes represented 1.1 percent, according to statistics provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Statistics showed 13 pedestrians were killed in Allegheny County in 2013.
Mr. Foxx said he and President Barack Obama put together a four-year, $302 billion surface transportation bill that contains bike and pedestrian initiatives, but they have been unable to get congressional action on the bill. A major goal of his initiative is to close gaps in pedestrian and biking networks, Mr. Foxx said, especially in low-income areas where the fatality rate is double that of high-income communities for pedestrian and bike accidents.
One such gap that exists in Pittsburgh is in the Hill District, which sits between Oakland and Downtown, both bike-friendly neighborhoods where it is also safe to walk. Mayor Bill Peduto said he thinks the federal government could help the city develop areas like the Hill District, where there are plans to develop the former Civic Arena site, and he encouraged Mr. Foxx to consider future grants to continue transportation development in low-income areas. Mr. Peduto missed the transportation secretary’s speech but met with him privately afterward.
“I handed him a book, the photographs of Teenie Harris, and I told him of the rich cultural history of the Hill, of Lena Horne and George Benson and August Wilson, of Josh Gibson,” he said. “I said he has the opportunity to be directly involved in its rebirth.”
As for Mr. Foxx, he came away from his accident unscathed, but not without impact on his opinions or, he said, one unlucky vehicle.
“I kept running,” he said, “but you should see the car.”
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