Rep. Steve LaTourette Backpedals on Dismissive Cycling Remarks

Screen_shot_2010_04_16_at_9.24.42_AM.pngBig thanks to Streetsblog Network member Iowa Bike Blog for alerting us to a post on the website of Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-OH). You may remember that LaTourette caused a bit of a stir in the bicycling community last month with some remarks he made while questioning DOT officials last month about funding for bicycle infrastructure. According to reports, he said, among other things, ""What job is going to be created by having a bike lane?" and suggested in a jocular fashion that perhaps US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood was on drugs for thinking bike facilities should get substantial funding.

Well, apparently Rep. LaTourette got an earful from bike advocates who took issue with his comments. Here’s part of what he posted on his website:

As you may know, an online publication in March published a story about a congressional hearing that dealt with funding for the Department of Transportation (DOT). Having attended the hearing and asked several questions, I was more than a little shocked by what was written since it didn’t even come close to recapping the hearing. These hearings are always covered by the Washington press, yet this story seemed to be the only one to suggest I had some angry diatribe and odd vendetta against bike lanes.

While there was some levity in my questioning of a DOT Undersecretary at the hearing, at no point did I ridicule bicyclists, bike paths or bikes lanes. I was merely trying to clarify comments made by Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood in his blog about bike paths being “equal” to others modes of transportation, especially pertaining to funding and if the formula for doling out funding was changing.…

I regret the online story caused so much anxiety and that it made some of you question me. Nothing has changed my ardent support of bike trails, bike lanes and the right of cyclists to share the road.  This has been a lesson on the power of the Internet, and it sure has given me a new respect for the fierce advocacy from the cycling community. I hope this will clear up any misunderstandings, and please know I will continue to be a strong advocate on your behalf. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. 

Good work on the part of all those who called or e-mailed LaTourette to let him know what they thought about his dismissive attitude toward bike infrastructure. Now he knows someone is watching.

More from around the network: Reimagine an Urban Paradise has the sweet story of a man who botched a repair job on his car and ended up becoming a bike commuter as a result. Hub and Spokes posts on the prospects for streetcars in Minneapolis. And Utility Cycling has a good roundup of the best ways to carry stuff on your bike.