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What would you say to a U.S. Congressman?

Posted by on July 3rd, 2007 at 12:40 pm

National Bike Summit 07
Blumenauer (with Kozo Shimano
in background).
(File photo)

In a few minutes I’m riding over to City Hall for a roundtable discussion about Portland’s bike scene with U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer.

He wants to know the latest and greatest on all the two-wheeled happenings.

One of his staffers has asked me to talk about,

“the intersection of bike policy, culture, business, safety, programs, etc. in Portland.”

Wow. That’s a tall order. Hopefully I say something that makes sense.

I’m curious. If you were in my position, what would you talk about (I realize I should have asked this question sooner)?

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Comments
  • Roger Louton July 3, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    Portland mountain bicyclists would like to have the same level of federal funding as commuters and road cyclists. We, too, ride to work, ride for fun and exercise, we just prefer to do it off-road, away from traffic, in the woods, amongst the trees. Our goal: \”Ride to where you Ride\”. No more having to load up your vehicle and DRIVE 1 to 2 hours to enjoy our favorite recreational and low impact activity!

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  • WOBG July 3, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Wha…? Roger, you ride to work off-road? please share your route and destination. I\’d love to do that.

    Otherwise, Fed help *for commuting* likely still means road-related funding—even for knobby-tired folks.

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  • Jose Rodriguez July 3, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    It would be great to see what Earl\’s opinion is on the passing of that Idaho-Style law (regarding cyclist being able to use stop signs as yields and lights as stop signs). Also, his opinions about the ticketing of cyclists and the ticketing of vehicle drivers that kill cyclists.

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  • Anonymous July 3, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Jonathan, if you haven\’t left for the meeting yet:
    What i would say in that position is that it is way past time for bicycling facilities and infrastructure to be considered as more than a minor bi-product or mitigation of collossal road projects. I\’m sure the congressman would agree, but these points can\’t really be emphasized too much.
    Or to state it positively: Bikes are the solution.

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  • Nutshell.. July 3, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    I would tell Congressman Blumenauer… If bicycling infrastructure can keep pace with demand for safe, efficient, and cheap urban transportation, the result will be a happier, healthier community. One of the many benefits of a happier, healthier community is a reduction of burden on a strained health care system. Also, from an infrastructure perspective, encouraging commuters to get on bicycles will ultimately reduce degradation (and cost) of urban transportation infrastructure. In a nutshell, transportation by bicycle in Portland is currently most likely providing more benefit than cost, while in its current state transportation by automobile certainly is costing society more than it is benefiting. So please support Portland as a model of progressive urban infrastructure.

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  • Jessica Roberts July 3, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    I want Sunday Parkways (or other street closures / car-free places) and bike/ped bridges!

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  • Daniel Buck July 3, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    I would like to know how the Congressman would make the necessary changes to the Sellwood Bridge and the extentsion of bike lanes into Lake Oswego so that cyclists are safer from the road and irritated motorists…

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  • Mr. Viddy July 3, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    I\’d like to know just how sincere he is at all in regards to cyclists and the cycling culture. Lip service alone does not help me out.

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  • Bill July 3, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Talk about how the Feds can get more people on bikes and out of cars. Tax incentives? Tax breaks for new bikes? Raise the gas tax and apply the proceeds to bike causes? The Feds \”help\” people drive with highways, freeways and such. Why can\’t the proactively help cycling? I would assume most of the bike lanes and what not are funded at a local level.

    –Bill

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  • bicycledave July 3, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    I commute year round so I\’d like to know what the congressman can do to get some major federal money invested in bike commuting infrastructure – bike lanes, dedicated bike paths, bike parking, shower facilities etc. Anything that reduces trips by car I\’m all in favor of.

    I think Roger\’s point above is that if you open up local single track for mountain bikes you reduce car trips to distant single track where mountain bikes are allowed. Portland has the largest forested natural area within city limits in the United States yet all (or almost all) of it\’s single track is off limits to bikes. I think mountain bikers are in a similar spot snowboarders were in a couple decades ago when they were not allowed on many ski slopes. We should push to raise them above 2nd class status.

    The more recreational opportunities in the local area the better. I\’m sure bikers and hikers can coexist in Forest Park.

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  • a.O July 3, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    It\’s funny you mention this. I attended a talk today by our Senator Ron Wyden. He talked about the \”terror tax:\” Every time we buy gas, the money goes to people in the Middle East, then gets funneled through charitable and religious organizations and eventually into the hands of people who want to kill us. They use it to fund those operations. When we drive, we pay a tax to people who try to kill us. When we bike, we cut those people off. Biking is patriotic and driving is un-American.

    I know, a little simplistic, but it plays well in the \’burbs, keeps a Dem in office (hey, beats the alternative), and promotes biking. And just so we\’re clear, this is what the Senator said (except for the driving is un-American part – I threw that in as the logical conclusion to the argument).

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  • ME July 3, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    First off I\’d like to congratulate him on not giving into all the snickering over his choice of neckwear…very Orygun. Then more funding should be set aside to develop more land near Forest Park…so we all could ride off road to work like Roger #1 does. Sounds fun.

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  • rixtir July 3, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    The more recreational opportunities in the local area the better. I\’m sure bikers and hikers can coexist in Forest Park.I think on separate trails, yes. On the same trails, there would be conflict, just like there is on MUPs. I would think that mountain bikers would be happier on trails where they don\’t have to slow to a crawl while they wait for some trail-hogging hikers to let them pass (see the forums for an example of a cyclist who was bullied by a local hiker).

    Not an answer to Jonathan\’s question, but i think other people here have answered it pretty well anyway…

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  • Brad July 3, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Rather than tax citizens for more bike infrastructure, I would ask him to eliminate the subsidies and tax incentives in place for cars and trucks. Make drivers and companies pay the true cost of driving and you will see many switch to less costly alternatives. (For example, eliminate the tax breaks and depreciation allowances on delivery vans and more florists, grocers, pizza joints, etc. may turn to bakfiets for local deliveries of less than three miles. This would create jobs while eliminating pollution and roadway congestion in urban areas and close-in neighborhoods.)

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  • AllOver July 3, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    I drive at least 400 miles a week in my car. If you excluded all the miles I drove in my car to get my mountain bike and I to the trail every week then I would only drive about 50 miles a week……..

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  • Coyote July 3, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    What does he think about a carbon tax?
    How about a carbon tax that will generate enough revenue make the US train system that will be the envy of the world in less than a decade? A tax that will allow us to abolish income tax for 75% of the current tax paying citizens?

    I know I sound like a kook, but I am feeling very patriotic this evening. Someone has to do something and stop all of the silly posturing in the federal government, or we are heading for the pooper.

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  • Daniel Hardt July 3, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    I would bring up the lack of safety for the cyclist of the Portland metro area. I would talk about Timothy O\’Donnell. I would tell him that a loop hole in the law such as the one Jennifer Knight of Idaho, slipped through is not only ridiculous but irresponsible. I think that is a good start.

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  • Randy July 3, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    I want a bike only bridge across the Willamette, no idling trucks or 2 cycle engines in downtown Portland (I need to breathe), and NS/EW bike only boulevards.

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  • Doug July 3, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    Excellent suggestion Brad #14, eliminate the subsidies and increase the tax on fuel to generate the full costs of operation of motor vehicles. Funny that Wyden made such a point of the \”terror tax\” per a.O #11. I have a letter from him declining to raise the gas tax as a way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Apparently he prefers to engage in pointless, ineffective political rhetoric by assailing the oil companies for profiting on our environmentally destructive reliance on automobiles.

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  • drew July 4, 2007 at 12:11 am

    I second Jessica: funding, please, for bike/ped bridges. Particularly the ones that seem to be languishing in the \”proposed\” stage, like NW Flanders over 405 and NE 7th over 84! Quicker and safer connections = more people on bikes and out of cars.

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  • P Finn July 5, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    one more for bike/ped bridges. A real one over the Willamette (not the accessibility joke that is the lower Steel) would greatly change the dynamic of crossing the bridge for a great number of folks.

    After that, the Columbia! (with a connection to the island!)

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  • a.O July 5, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Re the carbon tax: The issue in the next Congress will be straight carbon tax or cap-and-trade. It\’s an interesting debate. Tax has the advantage of taxing all sectors of the economy simultaneously according to emissions, whereas an initial cap-and-trade regime is likely to cover only certain sectors, probably excluding those who emit via driving (i.e., gasoline). For this and other reasons, I favor a straight tax. But then you will hear the BS rhetoric of \”tax and spend.\”

    Re the ped/bike bridge: The new Max bridge will likely include peds & bikes and will not carry motor vehicle traffic. Good enough? I think getting some separation on existing bridges is enough. I\’ve said it before, but nothing sends the message of \”get out of your single-occupancy vehicle\” better than replacing entire motor vehicle traffic lanes with public transit or bike lanes.

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  • Coyote July 5, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    a.0, monkeys will fly out of my butt before this congress acts on a carbon tax. I think congress is at the lowest point I have seen since they all tried to feed off of Nixon\’s decaying carcass. Congress is completely paralyzed. At this point I don\’t care what they do, just do something!

    I favor a tax over cap & trade too. The failings of the Clean Air Act should naturally point us in that direction. After you have clamped down on the perceived evil doers (i.e. industry in the case of the CAA) and you still need further reductions, including other groups is problematic. (mobile sources and agriculture.)

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  • a.O July 5, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    Notice that I did say \”the *next* Congress,\” not this one. I agree that this one is totally paralyzed. Hopefully some new (Democratic) Presidential leadership, and even more Ds in the Congress, will help.

    Anyway, the Californians have pretty much figured out the amount of carbon emitted by various processes. It\’s time to tax everyone by the ton. I think the best place is at the end of the economic stream: sales. That way we pick up all the foreign-made crap we buy and all of the so-called \”indirect\” emissions that are otherwise so hard to include. It also provides a direct incentive to produce goods and energy by using less carbon.

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  • Brad July 6, 2007 at 8:36 am

    Let\’s not kid ourselves about the Democrats in Congress. They are are all show and no go. Too afraid to take any sort of important stand because they are more worried about the White House race than ending the war, cleaning the environment, creating jobs, etc. We voted for change and all we get is Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid feigning anger and pretending to legislate. Keep acting like whiny schoolkids and we\’ll get President Romney and a Republican Senate next year.

    Just keep passing non-binding resolutions and writing tersely worded objections to executive abuses – that\’ll return America to its promise.

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