As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Building Livable Communities

Ray LaHood, the Secretary of Transportation, has a post up at the Department of Transportation's blog, one of the ugliest-looking blogs I've ever seen, what I imagine a blog from 1982 would look like if they had blogs or the public Internet back then... but I digress, because the content is excellent:

Today, I was proud to address my former colleagues in the House of Representatives and co-present a DOT-HUD partnership to help American families gain better access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs.

As I told House members, “One of my highest priorities is to help promote more livable communities through sustainable surface transportation programs.” That means roads, rails, and transit. It means safer passage for pedestrians, for bicyclists.

After housing costs, transportation takes the biggest bite out of the typical household budget. That's why a partnership between HUD and DOT can be so effective; we have the ability to ease the largest financial burden on many American families. We're talking about 60% of the average working American family's expenses. HUD Secretary Donovan and I can cut these costs by focusing our departments' efforts on creating affordable, sustainable communities.

While so many of the decisions about smart growth and livable communities are typically made at the local, the federal government can absolutely play a role in encouraging better development decisions, either through the bully pulpit or grants in aid. Housing, transportation and energy are all intimately linked. A community with residential and commercial spaces close together, which provides durable transit options between home and work, whether through bike lanes or light rail or whatever, allows for reducing carbon emissions through auto transit. It means a more vibrant neighborhood and a higher quality of life. Communities that cater just to businesses get abandoned at night. Bedroom communities are sleepy during the day. It doesn't make any sense. Not to mention that reducing housing and transportation costs in tandem frees up money for economic activity for small businesses that cater to the area.

Desmoinesdem has a ton more on this initiative, which I find very exciting. Land use and urban planning is the most important aspect of government that gets overlooked. The implications of a smart growth policy are boundless. Also, check out the Complete Streets project, which has legislation pending in Congress (S. 584 and H.R. 1443) that would ensure a fuller range of infrastructure investment on travel including "driving, bicycling, walking, or taking public transportation."

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