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Like GROW AMERICA, Green Lane Project Offers Bicycle Safety, Other Benefits


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On Monday, I was in Indianapolis to help kick-off an innovative project to bring dedicated bicycling lanes to six American cities. The Green Lane Project by PeopleForBikes is a two-year program that will help the cities -- Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Seattle-- add modern, protected bike lanes to their streets. The Green Lane Project provides selected cities with valuable financial, strategic, and technical assistance.

The on-street bike lanes are separated from traffic by curbs, planters, parked cars or posts, and aim to make riding a bike an appealing option for people of all ages and abilities. In addition, automobile drivers find that dedicated, protected lanes organize streets, making it easier on them than shared lanes.

When I was mayor of Charlotte, I oversaw the development of a Complete Streets initiative --but I also saw an uptick in crashes involving bicyclists or pedestrians. I myself was hit by a car one morning while I was out jogging. Luckily, I was fine. But we all know that others who have been hit aren't always so lucky.

So, I won't tolerate higher rates of bicyclist or pedestrian crashes. I didn't as mayor of Charlotte, and I won't as Secretary of Transportation.

We're all familiar with the argument that bicycling is good for the environment and a good source of exercise and recreation. But one of the key reasons we need to protect bicyclists is more fundamental--biking is transportation.

For many people, it's simply how they get around. The same way some people drive and others ride transit, people bike. In fact, 28 percent of all bike trips are taken by people making less than $30,000 dollars a year --people who rely on bicycle networks, pedestrian pathways, and transit to get to work, school, and other places.

We also know that protected lanes are actually good for local businesses. They offer greater visibility and repeat visits, and bicyclists require much less parking infrastructure. Bike lanes increase commercial property values. And, alternative transportation options attract talented workers to communities that have made that investment.

In a recent survey, 66 percent of young adults said that access to high-quality transportation is one of the top three criteria for choosing a place to live. And 54 percent even said they would consider moving to a city with better transportation options.

Those are just a few reasons why our Federal Highway Administration is working with communities to assess and improve their bike networks. And it's why we're launching a Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Action Team at DOT to better focus our resources on lowering bike/ped crashes.

And, as the GROW AMERICA legislative proposal we delivered to Congress yesterday demonstrates, we'll continue to invest in transportation innovation.

We were proud of the $20-million-dollar TIGER grant that allowed Indianapolis to build its eight-mile bicycle and pedestrian Cultural Trail. Yet, we know there's still a need out there for more bike/ped investment. Yes, PeopleForBikes selected six cities for the Green Lane Project, but more than a hundred cities wanted to take part.

The transportation bill we sent includes the resources we need to support additional investments in bike safety and bike infrastructure. It also includes the resources we need to invest in the transit systems that help make walking and bicycling more viable options for people.

So, congratulations to our host city, Indianapolis, and the five other cities selected for the Green Lane Project. You're making a valuable commitment to your communities' future.

And if you like the sound of the Green Lane Project, it's time to get behind our GROW AMERICA proposal so our nation's transportation future includes biking and walking.

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