Rep. Blumenauer: Altering Roads for Pedestrians, Bicyclists Will Boost ‘Community Vitality’

April 29, 2010 - 5:09 PM

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.)

 (CNSNews.com) -- Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) said roads should be designed “to take into account all the needs of the community” and foster “balanced transportation,” which, in turn, makes it more desirable for people to go about their business and “participate in community vitality.”
 
On Capitol Hill, CNSNews.com asked Rep. Blumenauer, who is a bicycle enthusiast,  whether existing roads “should be revamped to kind of give more space to bicyclists that are trying to get from one place to another.”
 
Blumenauer said, “Road design needs to take into account all the needs of the community. I come from a place in Portland, Ore., where we have been adding bicycle lanes now for over 20 years. It’s a simple thing to do. It doesn’t cost much. It provides a sense identity and safety for people that are cycling. It’s a signal for motorists.”
 
The congressman further said, “We’ve been working very hard on the pedestrian connection. It isn’t something that’s necessarily safe or economically productive to just have wide, wide streets that are congested (and) that actually don’t promote people integrating into the neighborhoods.”
 
“We find that when you have well-designed streets and balanced transportation you can actually have more traffic,” said Blumenauer. “You don’t have the traffic-parking problems and you make it more desirable for everybody to walk, shop, and participate in community vitality.”
 

 
Rep. Blumenauer spoke with CNSNews.com at an Earth Day event (Apr. 22) at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
 
In a previous CNSNews.com report, the Oregon congressman explained his view of balanced transportation.    
 
“Well, balance means that we take into account all of the multiple needs of the various transportation modes and of individuals,” Blumenauer told CNSNews.com. “This means transit, freight movement, the individual commuter who happens to be going in a single-occupant vehicle. It means bike and pedestrian. If you ignore the needs of one at the expense of another, what it ends up doing is taking away choices from people.”
 
“There are a number of people who, for instance, can’t afford to travel to work everyday by themselves in a single-occupant vehicle,” he said. “There are a number of people who can’t drive, who shouldn’t drive, or can’t afford to drive. It is, it’s also being able to distinguish between a variety of different people even who are, who use automobiles -- because some are long-distance commuters, some are trying to negotiate shorter trips by having transportation policies that connect streets so that they work better and give people choices.”
 
A transcript of the exchange between CNSNews.com and Rep. Blumenauer on Apr. 22 follows below:
 
CNSNews.com: “Do you think that perhaps roads should be revamped to kind of give more space to bicyclists that are trying to get from one place to another or is that -- ?”
 
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.): “Road design needs to take into account all the needs of the community. I come from a place in Portland, Ore., where we have been adding bicycle lanes now for over 20 years. It’s a simple thing to do. It doesn’t cost much. It provides a sense identity and safety for people that are cycling. It’s a signal to motorists. We’ve been working very hard on the pedestrian connection. It isn’t something that’s necessarily safe or economically productive to just have wide, wide streets that are congested (and) that actually don’t promote people integrating into the neighborhoods. We find that when you have well-designed streets and balanced transportation you can actually have more traffic. You don’t have the traffic-parking problems and you make it more desirable for everybody to walk, shop, and participate in community vitality.”
 
CNSNews.com: “So you definitely support bicycle, using a bicycle over motorized transportation?”
 
Rep. Blumenauer: “What I think is that everybody ought to have a choice. There are times when I drive a care at home. But I made a decision coming to Washington, D.C. that I would bring a bicycle instead of a car. For 14 years I’ve been able to do more than 90 percent of my personal transportation on one of my bikes here. I’m healthier, I’ve never been stuck in traffic. I never had to look for a parking space, and I think I’m better off for having made that decision.”