I recently read in the AARP newsletter (story) and heard on National Public Radio (transcript) U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood discuss how important bicycling will be in future transportation plans.

The department our area’s former Congressman now leads is in the process of planning for the next federal transportation bill. He’s stressing that bicycling, both for commuting and for recreation, will get more funding in the near future. The bill was supposed to come up this year, but it is being pushed back 18 month to focus on other legislation.

So that means in 2012 and soon thereafter Jacksonville might have an opportunity to get federal funding to build a bike path along the Town Brook and to connect Lake Jacksonville to the city’s park system. So now is the time for us to get our act together and make some big plans!

The city already owns most of the land along the Town Brook. The area is a floodplain so no other use can be made of the land. Acquiring land at reasonable costs is possible. One of the best things our city has going for it is Lake Jacksonville, and having a bike path lets families take advantage of the recreational opportunities.

More details from the department of transportation on LaHood’s blog.