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HUD Chief Preaches Livable Communities at Conference on Cities

Secretary Shaun Donovan. Photo: Wikimedia.

least among cabinet secretaries, US DOT chief Ray LaHood has become
something of a livable streets rock star. His forceful and public
support for cyclists and pedestrians and his dedication to safe driving
have earned him the praise of many. By comparison, Housing and Urban
Development Secretary Shaun Donovan hasn't made quite the same splash in
green transportation circles. 

Maybe not for long. After reading a detailed report of Donovan's
presentation at The Atlantic magazine's "Future of the City" forum, I
came away feeling as though the HUD Chief had delivered his own version
of LaHood's
showstopper at this year's National Bike Summit
. Member blog The
, run by the American Society of Landscape Architects, reports
that Donovan was saying all the right things, drawing a direct
connection between our physical environment, our ability to get around
without driving for miles, and macro issues like greenhouse gas
emissions and housing affordability. Take a look:

Donovan said there was increased demand for walkableneighborhoods. These types of neighborhoods provide easier access tojobs, schools, and green areas. “However, there is still a mismatchbetween where we live and where we work.” Donovan said this disconnect,which forces many people to commute long distances, causes habitat loss, climate change, and increases our dependence on foreign oil. Inaddition, he pointed a finger at the financial industry, saying “lenders have driven the spread of suburbs, raising the cost of commuting.”

Given the U.S. needs to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30percent, we need to “collaborate on transportation and urban centers.”Through studying the emissions of various cities, we now know “theeffect of place on energy use and climate change.” Where we place ourhomes and jobs has an impact on the environment. “Investing intransportation that’s closely connected with where people live is smarttransportation.”

Donovan's certainly talking the talk, but is he walking the walk?
The first place to look is HUD's new Sustainable
Communities Planning Grant Program
, which will offer a total of
$150 million for regional efforts to coordinate housing, zoning, and
transportation. There's also the ongoing
between HUD, DOT, and the Environmental Protection

The Dirt's conference round-up has a lot of other gems too. One
panel discussed the merits of tools for identifying best practices, like
LEED ratings or Walk Score.
Another imagined how technology, from tolling and mapping to smarter
traffic signals, could reshape our transportation system. It's a good
summary of what must have been a very interesting conference. 

More from around the network: M-bike
shows how local business helps build 20 miles of bike lanes in
southwest Detroit. Where
the Sidewalk Starts
looks at the pedestrian environment from a
kids-eye view. And N8han
grabs a birds-eye view of blocked bike lanes.

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