Ray LaHood, America's Secretary of Transportation, made a surprise appearance at the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC on March 11, 2010. Speaking from atop a table in the middle of the closing reception, Secretary LaHood proclaimed, “You all know this: you have a full partner in Ray LaHood and many full partners at the DOT.” Catch the video. Secretary LaHood keeps a very active blog where, in recent months, he's been promoting the benefits of biking, walking, transit, and livable communities. He's also very active on Facebook and Twitter, engaging with a section of the population that has typically been uninvolved in the political process.
The fact that the U.S. now has its main transportation director touting the need for more livable communities while also engaging in social media is providing a burst of energy to local, regional, and national advocacy groups. And, Ray LaHood is putting money where his mouth is: TIGGER grants appropriated $100 million for public transportation projects that reduce greenhouse gases; DOT disseminated $8 billion for high-speed rail projects; and, $25 million was also given to each of four communities (Colombia, Missouri; Marin County, California; Minneapolis Area, Minnesota; and, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin) for improvements to bicycling and walking facilities, showcasing each for decreasing the load on traditional transportation infrastructure.