Part of the Obama Administration’s livability initiative is to foster alternative forms of transportation, and part of that plan includes new guidelines for handling cycling and walking.

[Transportation Secretary Ray] LaHood says the government is going to give bicycling – and walking, too – the same importance as automobiles in transportation planning and the selection of projects for federal money. The former Republican congressman quietly announced the “sea change” in transportation policy last month.

“This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized,” he wrote in his government blog.

But some conservatives and trucking companies are not pleased.

At a recent House hearing, Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, suggested jokingly to a Transportation Department official that one explanation for the new policy is that the secretary’s thinking has been clouded by drugs.

“Is that a typo?” LaTourette asked. “If it’s not a typo, is there still mandatory drug testing at the department?”

The new policy is not a regulation and, therefore, not mandatory, Transportation undersecretary for policy Roy Kienitz responded to LaTourette.

But it’s LaHood’s view “that the federal government should not take the position that roads and trains are real transportation and walking and biking is not,” Kienitz said. “His view is it’s all real transportation, and we should consider it based on what benefits it can bring for the amount of money we spend.”

That didn’t satisfy LaTourette.

“So is it his thought that perhaps we’re going to have, like, rickshaws carrying cargo from state to state, or people with backpacks?” asked the congressman.

What are your thoughts?

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