Today, President Obama will nominate Anthony Foxx, the mayor of Charlotte, N.C., to be the next Secretary of Transportation, replacing Ray LaHood pending confirmation from the Senate.
The young African American is being called a “savvy choice” by Slate correspondent Matt Yglesias as Foxx adds diversity to a predominantly white Obama Cabinet and is an up-and-coming face in politics from a progressive sunbelt state. But, in addition to his political suitability, Foxx has launched some progressive transportation projects.
As mayor of Charlotte, Foxx’s logic for investing in alternative transportation projects has been based on economics. He understands that rail infrastructure in an urban area can stimulate economic growth. To that effect, Foxx helped create the Charlotte Streetcar Project, an electric tram service to the city, and extend the LYNX light rail system to the University of North Carolina, according to USA Today.
So, what can we expect from LaHood’s soon-to-be successor?
Similar to LaHood, Foxx has shown consistent support for bicycling. This past Friday he held his annual “Bike to Breakfast” ride to help encourage Charlotte residents to cycle. Also, under his mayorship, the city launched Charlotte B-cycle, which now features 200 bikes and 20 stations–a project that Foxx has been consistently supportive of. According to Charlotte B-cycle Executive Director Dianna Ward, “Mayor Foxx is an avid cyclist and supporter of Charlotte B-cycle and the cycling community. He proved his support this past week as he led nearly 200 riders, including almost 2-dozen on B-cycles, into Uptown Charlotte for the Mayor’s Bike Ride to Work.”
Foxx’s understanding of how cycling and bike share can help an urban area is a sign that he will continue the adamant support for bike share that Secretary LaHood has displayed.
Like LaHood, Foxx is not a traditional “transportation specialist.” However, he has been instrumental in bringing transit-oriented development to Charlotte and clearly appreciates the value of such projects. As a cyclist and a proponent to bike share, Foxx will enter the position of Secretary of Transportation without a significant bicycle learning curve and we can presume that he will continue to develop LaHood’s foundation for progressive transportation principles. But, beyond that, we expect Foxx to the adopt new ideas and policies that will help make the funding and implementation of pedestrian, bicycling, rail, and bus projects easier going forward.
If Foxx is confirmed by the Senate, he will take his new position on July 4th of this year.
Updated 4/29/13 at 11:22 am PDT.