Obama’s National Transportation Plan Includes Bicycling & Walking


Democratic front runner Barack Obama just released a campaign "Fact Sheet" entitled, "Strengthening America’s Transportation Infrastructure" (download it). While Hillary Clinton has put forward some outstanding and heavily transit-oriented plans of her own, Obama appears to be the first major party presidential candidate to outline a national transportation platform that explicitly seeks to "create policies that incentivize greater bicycle and pedestrian usage of sidewalks and roads" (if anyone knows differently, let us know in the comments section). Whatever the case, it’s a significant step up from the 2004 campaign featuring George W. Bush’s mountain bike fitness regimen and John Kerry, spandex-clad on an $8,000 Serotta.

Before you get too excited, it’s worth noting that Obama’s paper looks like it was a bit rushed. Is Amtrak really "the only form of reliable transportation" in "many parts of the country?" What parts of the country would that be? The plan is also missing language from Obama’s energy plan concerning the equalization of subsidies for motorized and non-motorized commuting.

Nitpicking aside, we do get a good view of what a President Obama would aim to do for more Livable Streets. In addition to encouraging biking and walking, he wants to:

  • "Provide states and local governments with the resources they need to address sprawl and create more livable communities."
  • "Double the federal Jobs Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program to ensure that additional federal public transportation dollars flow to the highest-need communities and that urban planning initiatives take this aspect of transportation policy into account." Presumably this includes better transit for inner-cities.
  • Provide long-term federal support for Amtrak and "increase the availability of rail transportation options for residents of rural communities."
  • Support the development of high-speed freight and passenger rail.

Now that we have transportation plans from both Obama and Clinton; John McCain, where you at?

Photo: alison.jane/Flickr

  • Reum

    It is a far cry from Ross Perot including the FHWA bicycling program as one of his 100 or whatever detailed examples of the federal government wasting your tax dollars.

  • jmc

    I hope you like coal power plants and biofuels, because this is what obama has actually supported since he’s been in the senate.

  • Don’t expect the candidates to point out the forest fire of subsidies to the carbon/auto industry such as free carbon-dumping into the air.

  • I’ll vote for whoever plans on removing all subsidies from auto based infrastructure (including Middle Eastern wars for oil resources) and then using that money to pay back the once thriving private transit industry for 70 years of lost progress due unfair government competition. Then, let a balanced transportation system rebuild itself using market forces instead of government coercion. We’ll see how many people choose to not share rides when they bear the true cost private automobile mobility. Dear U.S. government, I know you know best, but the people would rather choose their preferred mode of transportation. Thx bi.

  • Dave H.

    The NY Times/John Kerry-in-spandex link doesn’t seem to work.

  • Try now.

  • Jason

    “Is Amtrak really “the only form of reliable transportation” in “many parts of the country?” What parts of the country would that be?”

    Many places in the rural west, there is no longer bus service and no airports. If you want to travel your options are driving or Amtrak. If you can’t drive, your out of luck. If there is a blizzard, your option is Amtrak.

    In this case, “many places” isn’t that many people, but it is a vast part of this nation’s land area. To some extent, these Amtrak services also help take city dwellers and tourists to remote national parks.

  • rex

    Obama’s position will put him at odds with McCain. McCain has not only been against funding for Amtrak, over the past decades he has been pointedly dismissive towards Amtrak.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’m glad Obama is in favor of cycling and walking. Because when he comes into office and realizes the U.S. is bankrupt, it will be all he is able to afford.

  • Nothing yet from Obama on congestion pricing. The Clinton Foundation Web site touts it as a solution.

  • Lola

    At the candidates’ transportation forum at NYU on Jan. 31, Obama was represented by a Chicago lawyer from Meyer, Brown whose recent accomplishments include overseeing the privatization of Chicago Midway airport and toll roads in Chicago and Denver. If selling off the commonwealth is Obama’s idea of “incentivizing”–or if he’s simply inclined to turn to this interest group for his expertise in transit planning–then I’m sticking with Hillary. (A link to the webcast here: http://wagner.nyu.edu/rudincenter/conferences/. Cue to 32:30–right after Kucinich’s guy finishes eulogizing water and transportation as human rights)

  • Large rural parts of the country lost their bus service when the buses were de-regulated. This is one reason people like Trent Lott have supported Amtrak- they have small towns in their district where Amtrak is the only public carrier.


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