Ray LaHood, Known Unknown

lahood_1.jpgRay LaHood, holding plaque, in 2004 with members of the League of Illinois Bicyclists

Ray LaHood? Ray LaHood?

That was the rippling reaction on the Streetsblog Network yesterday and early today as the news about Obama’s pick for Transportation Secretary sank in. "Say it ain’t so, Barack," was the headline on the brand-new blog WalkBike CT (hat tip to Design New Haven for pointing us there).

David Alpert at Greater Greater Washington summed it up nicely: 

Many observers were very surprised; high-speed rail advocates are worried; some bicyclists are tentatively pleased.
Advocates, bloggers and journalists will have their hands full today
learning all about LaHood and divining what, exactly, this means for
Obama’s transportation policy.

Those bicyclists Alpert references are at the League of Illinois Bicyclists, and they posted a statement yesterday saying, "[LaHood] is an active supporter of bicycling and trails, and he has very
visibly gone against the wishes of his party leaders on our issues."

More positive spin comes from KC Light Rail, which says "moderate is the word to emphasize here," and Ryan Avent at The Bellows writes, "I’d say I remain cautiously optimistic. The people are important, but
how Obama uses the people is most important. And that variable remains
unknown so far."

In the meantime, hope springs eternal at the local level. Over at The Naked City, Mary Newsom posts an open letter to the President-Elect from Oregon street designer Michael Ronkin, about the potential of sidewalk construction for shovel-ready stimulus projects. And a post from Transportation from America showing the lamentable sidewalk conditions in Jackson, MS, demonstrates how much need exists for such projects in the nation’s cities.

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