Nov 30, 2022 - News

Pete Buttigieg is big on bikes

Men in suits stand around a table at a training facility

American Airlines CEO Robert Isom (left) and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg tour the Aviation Institute of Maintenance last week. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

👋 Hey, it's Monica. When Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced a new O'Hare terminal last week, he also stopped by the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in McKinley Park.

What's happening: Buttigieg lauded the trade school for training Chicagoans, "especially women and workers of color who are underrepresented in the [aviation tech] field."

  • He also praised unions' "benefits to communities" as he sat beside American Airlines CEO Robert Isom during a Q&A with students.

Yes, but: I was really there to ask Buttigieg about bike safety, particularly efforts to reduce truck crashes like the one that killed a local 3-year-old this summer.

State of play: Hundreds recently cycled to D.C. to call for better funding, increased truck safety training and underride guard regulations to prevent pedestrians or cyclists from being trapped under trucks.

Two people sit on chairs and talk to each other
Buttigieg and Monica talk about transportation last week. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

What he's saying: We're doing "active work on underride guards that can save lives and in the case of truck crashes," Buttigieg tells me. "But I'll also say that we're funding a lot of active transportation infrastructure now."

  • He calls projects for bike and walking paths, "Good for congestion, good for health, good for the climate, and it can be good for just the way that communities develop."

Between the lines: Although he didn't commit to timetables for underride regulations or the particular funding advocates are asking for, Buttigieg urges state leaders to use federal grants and their yearly federal "formula dollars" to "make it safer to walk and bike."

  • One example is The Marquette Greenway. The path — which will connect Chicago to New Buffalo, Mich., via Indiana — is partially funded by a federal transportation grant.
  • "You already have the treasure of the lakefront trail, but to have the opportunity to go through Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan, I'm excited to see that," Buttigieg says.

What we're watching: Buttigieg's federal Safe Roads and Streets for All program, which will allocate $5 billion over five years for programs to reduce traffic deaths.

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