Tuesday morning, Rep. Earl Blumenauer took his usual place behind the podium at the National Bike Summit. (He never misses a Bike Summit.)
“I’m coming up this morning and smiling at someone going past me on the bike lane on Pennsylvania Avenue,” Blumenauer said. “Remember four years ago, I talked about risking my life on Pennsylvania Avenue. And I talked from a podium not unlike this and said, ‘Maybe we could just put bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue.’ Some of you clapped; others of you said, ‘I agree, but not in my lifetime.’ [Four] years later: It’s there, it’s a fixture, it matters to people. And it’s part of the renaissance in our nation’s capital.”
Blumenauer encouraged the 750 assembled cycling advocates to be “proud and modestly aggressive” in driving home the point that cycling infrastructure creates good, family-wage jobs. Safe Routes to School “gives us an opportunity to reduce [congestion during] the morning commute 30 percent and not have so many morbidly obese fourth graders,” he said.
Summit participants were already planning to spend the next day on Capitol Hill, talking to members of Congress and their staff about increasing federal support for cycling programs. But Blumenauer told them not to stop there — they should be lobbying even harder when the members are at home, and the district staff are trying to fill their schedules with events that will put them face-to-face with constituents. Inviting them out for a ride to try out a trail that was made possible by federal funds would be a good way of showing them the concrete (and asphalt!) benefits of programs like TIGER and Transportation Enhancements (now Transportation Alternatives).
Another member who made the trip up Pennsylvania Avenue to speak to the Bike Summit was Sen. Ben Cardin, who solidified his standing as Bike Hero when he fought for the Cardin-Cochran amendment, which preserved some local control over bike/ped funds, even as dedicated funding was stripped out of the federal bill.