Obama's Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is in town yesterday and today visiting America's Made-in-the-fuckin'-US-of-A streetcar and meeting with bike advocates. In front of a small, invite-only crowd at a Bicycle Transportation Alliance event in the Pearl District, the jowly Republican applauded the work of Oregon's sustainability-loving congressmen (Earl Blumenauer and Pete "only former bike mechanic in Congress" DeFazio) and stumped for a national campaign against distracted driving. "Distracted driving is an epidemic!" said LaHood, waving his cell phone in one hand and noting that 5,000 people die on the roads annually because drivers are texting or yapping while driving. "We're right at the point with distracted driving that we were with drunk driving thirty years ago."

Death by texting is an extreme example of the fact that all traffic deaths are preventable.

Mayor Sam Adams took the opportunity to announce his support for Vision Zero, a pilot program the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Portland State grad students are running in the King neighborhood to try and cut traffic deaths by 50 percent in three years. It's based on a European program that aims to get traffic fatalities down to an unbelievable zero. "The more kids and the more grandparents I see using our system, the closer I know we are to our goal," said Adams.

The event also saw a slight kerfuffle over an apparently dirty word: livability. Oregon Rep. Pete Defazio has gotten some flack from business groups for pushing millions of dollars in "livability" grants... so now he's looking for a word to replace "livability" that's not so, you know, hippie. He offered a bottle of wine to anyone who could come up with a better term for walkable, sustainable, people-friendly cities. Maybe pitch it ideas to his Twitter?