A National Network Of Bike Trails? It Could Happen

A bicyclist pedals through an intersection

hide captionAbout 90 percent of the country commutes to work by car. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood hopes that will change — he wants to make biking as important as driving.

Don Ryan/AP

A quiet revolution is starting in the world of transportation.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced what he's calling a "sea change" in transportation policy: He wants to make biking as important as driving.

"We’re elevating it to the point where as we develop new road systems, as we develop communities where people can use light rail or street cars or buses, bike trails and walking paths will be equal partners, if you will, and equal components of those kinds of transportation opportunities in communities across America," LaHood tells NPR's Guy Raz.

Right now, about 90 percent of the country commutes to work by car.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood i i

hide captionLaHood, shown at a news conference earlier this year, is pushing the idea of a nationwide interstate biking system.

Cliff Owen/AP
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood

LaHood, shown at a news conference earlier this year, is pushing the idea of a nationwide interstate biking system.

Cliff Owen/AP

"We’ve put almost all of our resources into roads," LaHood says. "If the commitment when President Eisenhower signed the interstate bill had been to high-speed inner-city rail, we'd be in the same position Europe and Asia are in today."

LaHood is also floating the idea of a nationwide interstate biking system — the two-wheel equivalent of Eisenhower’s highway system.

Some advocates for drivers and truckers are worried that this new focus on biking could divert resources from roads. But LaHood says the Department of Transportation isn't looking to take away anyone's turf — just to provide alternatives.

"We know that 90 percent of the people aren't going to be cycling to work," he says. "But that opportunity and that option and that kind of alternative is something we think people want."

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