Planes, trains and automobiles aren't the only modes of transportation the Obama administration considers worthy of funding. According to a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) report quoted by the Associated Press, bicycling and walking got a big boost in funds last year thanks to President Obama's "Livability Initiative”, which emphasizes healthy alternatives to driving as a means of improving communities and solving transportation woes.
Spending on biking and walking projects increased from less than $600 million in 2008 to $1.2 billion in 2009, President Obama's first year in office.
Last March, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a policy “sea change” that included sending a set of guidelines to each state's Department of Transportation (DOT) demanding, among other things, the treatment of bicycling and walking as equal to other modes of transportation.
"People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized,” LaHood wrote on his blog.
That's certainly a big turnaround from comments made in 2007 by George Bush's Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, who said that biking paths and trails have no place in federal transportation policy because they “really are not transportation”.
The extra $400 million in funds were allocated under the economic recovery program, and used on projects like recreational trails, maintenance of bike paths and education about bicyclist road safety.