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Blumenauer says; “Hold the weasels accountable”

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 5th, 2008 at 9:27 am

OR Bike Summit - Saturday opening.jpg
U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer addressed
the Oregon Bike Summit this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus)

U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer opened the Oregon Bike Summit today by outlining three steps bike advocates can take to help spur the movement toward a bike-friendly America.

Blumenauer referred to Oregon as the "cycling epicenter of the U.S," and said that, "what we're doing is having a ripple effect on the rest of the country."

In a speech to the nearly 200 summit attendees at the Red Lion Hotel in Janzten Beach, Blumenauer said there's, "never been a better time to be advocating for bicycles." Speaking about his 2008 National Bike Bill -- an effort to emulate American transportation infrastructure revisioning efforts in 1808 and 1908 -- Blumenauer recounted how bicyclists "got bushwhacked in the 1800s".

He was referring to a time when bicycling was mainstream in America and the League of American Wheelmen (now the League of American Bicyclists) had over 1 million members. The threat of horseless carriages and poor roadways coalesced those bicyclists into a "Good Roads Movement" to improve America's transportation infrastructure.

We all know what happened next. Blumenauer says that effort was "hijacked" by the rush to the automobile.

OR Bike Summit - Saturday opening-8.jpg
Mary Fellows, a "bike commuting grandma" from Southwest Portland has a word with Blumenauer.

Now Blumenauer says, in order to seize our opportunity to transform America into a place where bike riders are comfortable and safe, our job (as advocates, politicians, business leaders, etc...) is to make sure we don't get "sidetracked".

OR Bike Summit - Saturday opening-3.jpg

To direct our efforts he offered three things we need to do:
1) Get our story straight and pass it on
Blumenauer challenged the crowd by asking, "Why are you here?" He impressed on us that there is important power in our individual cycling stories and encouraged us to refine that story and share it with others.

2) Pick a path
Blumenauer urged everyone to find causes (non-profits, projects, etc...) to support and be active in moving them forward.

3) Get political

Blumenauer says we all need to implicate ourselves into the political process. If we don't, he says, the "other side" will push their own "public policy perversions." On that note, similar to his speech at the National Bike Summit last March, he referred to the partisan bickering that has tied up good bicycle-related policy (like the Bike Commuter Act).

Blumenauer specifically referred to the House floor speech made by North Carolina Republican Patrick McHenry back in August -- a speech that drew ire of bike advocates worldwide when he said bicycles are a, "19th century solution to 21st century problems". McHenry earned the moniker of "weasel" and Blumenauer urged us to pounce on politicians who make comments like that and hold them accountable.

Rousing up advocates is familiar territory for Blumenauer, but no matter how many times I hear him speak, he always manages to add a new wrinkle of inspiration to his words.

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Comments
  • Eric April 5, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    While Congressman Blumenauer\'s support for bicycles is terrific & important, in his zeal to support bicycling I worry that the historic story is not altogether straight. I have a few quibbles, and hope that good bicycle advocacy will not trump good history. Isaac B. Potter and the LAW published \"The Gospel of Good Roads\" in 1891, several years before the horseless carriage was at all significant. A decade later, the biggest problem for good roads was not the auto driver, who still represented a tiny, tiny percentage of road users, but was the poor funding structure for roads and American individualism that led people to avoid investing in the commons. At the very beginning of the auto age, bicyclists and auto drivers made common cause for roads. The Oregon Road Club, established in 1896, represented both constituencies for several years.

    My quibbles, of course, don\'t alter the larger point - just delay it by a decade or two. By the time Oregon enacted the gasoline tax in 1919, autos had most certainly taken over the roads & shares of mind.

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  • joel April 5, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    heh - eric, you beat me to it. we should also remember who those first auto drivers were. the upper classes, cyclists themselves (and the backbone of the league), made the jump from bikes to cars because it was the newest, fastest, greatest thing - the same thing that brought them to bikes to begin with. cycling clubs became motorcycle and car clubs. and, of course, those differentials developed for pedal-powered tricycles helped make the car possible :) by 1919, bikes were relegated to aping the styling of motorcycles, and later, automobiles - the entire balloon-tire era was driven by making bikes for kids who wanted something that looked like their parents motorized vehicles.

    the bikes popularity in the us, as we all know, has never truly recovered.

    as eric says - little quibbles - but important bits of cyclings history. we have a national tendency to \"keep up with the joneses\", and cyclings popularity (and the good roads movement) feel victim to/was hijacked by that more than the car in and of itself.

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  • P Finn April 5, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Jonathan,

    the typos & grammar are getting painful...please...do something.

    I would more than happily volunteer my proofreading skills to your site...

    Thanks for all you do, guy. Really. No, really.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 5, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    \"the typos & grammar are getting painful...please...do something.\"

    P Finn,

    thanks for pointing out that there are some mistakes in this article. Just FYI, with the pace of this type of reporting, there is no time for proofreading. I do my best.

    thanks and I\'ll try to improve.

    also, please feel free to email me jonathan at bikeportland dot org with corrections as you see them and I will fix them asap.

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  • ChipSeal April 5, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Mr. Maus,

    Please send in your dispatches posthaste- mistakes and all! We would much rather have many ugly reports than a few pristine ones!

    As always your content is what brings us back for more. Thanks for all you do!

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  • Ryan April 5, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Another bit of history left out of this article when cyclists were further \"bushwacked\": In 1944 the UVC committee inserted the mandatory sidepath law (later developed into the mandatory bike lane law in the 70\'s in California), the mandatory side-of-the-road law and another provision that prohibited cyclists from controlled-access roads (not necessarily freeways). Before 1944, we had all the same rights to use the road as motorists did, with only the slow-moving vehicle law applying to us when moving slower than traffic. We essentially were equals to all other road users under the law. Ever since then our rights have been degraded to that below motorists. Even Oregon still has some form of a mandatory sidepath law, the mandatory bike lane law and the side-of-the-road law.

    While I commend our politicians in Washington for supporting the bicycle, I\'d like to see more support for cyclists (you know, the people that ride those bicycles). I don\'t care so much for a \"bicycle-friendly\" U.S.A. as a cyclist-friendly U.S.A. and that requires fair treatment under the law, all the same rights and duties, being designed-users of all major roads and the like. We are far from that, even in \"bicycle-friendly\" Portland.

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  • Joe Rowe April 5, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    Cyclists in PDX must look at the big picture. Earl has made a deal that has de-funded cycling for millions. His lack of action to stop the war means a lot less cash for bike projects. Earl\'s deal is to remain silent on our illegal war, and Earl thinks an impeachment is not his duty of checks and balances. This from a man who can take huge risks without fear of being voted out. We can do better than Earl by voting for Joe Walsh in the primary. No fear of throwing your vote away. Walsh will do 10 times more for bikes. The bike and community in PDX is mostly apathetic about the war. Where is any justice on bike sites? Over 1 million innocent people in Iraq are dead because cyclists want more of the same, more middle of the road. Are we puppets of so called liberals like Earl?

    http://joewalshforcongress.blogspot.com

    Earl promotes free trade and won\'t sign peace resolutions.

    http://tinyurl.com/3peoo6
    His lame excuse for not investigating Bush.

    http://tinyurl.com/3p7fxe

    http://tinyurl.com/h2jj4
    Earl refuses to sign peace resolution in 2006
    Earl is silent as a deal to get on committees

    http://tinyurl.com/6jgor4
    Research on body counts in Iraq

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  • DJ Hurricane April 6, 2008 at 8:52 am

    All of the posts to this point represent excellent illustrations of the immaturity of the contemporary bike rights movement. Please people, get some perspective. It\'s time to become advocates and to stop bickering about BS. It\'s time to hold the weasels accountable.

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  • Donna April 6, 2008 at 10:20 am

    I do not want to come across as dismissive of Joe Rowe’s political beliefs and opinions, but I must take issue with assurance that voters would not be “throwing their vote away” and that “Walsh will do 10 times more for bikes.” That’s just a tad bit naive. If Joe Walsh were to win the Democratic primary, there would be the risk that the Republicans could gain the momentum to elect their candidate. Now, perhaps the Republican Party has found someone more pro bike and more anti war than Blumenauer, but I certainly wouldn\'t hold my breath. Of course this is simply my personal opinion, but I consider voting for someone in a primary who could not win in the general election to be throwing my vote away.

    Even if Walsh were to win both the Democratic primary and the general election, I just can’t see how he could “do 10 times more for bikes” than Blumenauer. How much would a freshman congressman be able to do for his constituents? Would he be able to sit on the committees of his choice? Do you think all the people in Washington that Blumenauer has connections and relationships with would automatically embrace Walsh and do him the same favors? It\'s quite likely that Portland would need to sit and twiddle our collective thumbs for a time and delay plans because we would have to wait for a freshman congressman to put in enough time to have influence. Like it or not, this is the way Washington works, and it\'s generally the reason why voters are surprised when a candidate\'s campaign speeches differ from their actions once elected. It\'s also a possibility that while we wait for a freshman congressman to get us what we want, our local climate regarding bicycle transportation issues could change and we wind up with a city and/or regional government with no desire to move forward. Heck, all it would take is a few gifted traffic planners in PDOT to get bored and find jobs elsewhere to make a serious impact on forward momentum.

    I will not comment on the other issues mentioned. This is a blog about bicycles, after all.

    Now, if people still choose to support Walsh knowing the real risks involved, fine. Everyone in this country has the freedom to believe what they wish and support the candidates of their choice. My hope is that people do some hard thinking about the real risks. Again, this is not meant to tear down any candidate, it\'s just that all choices have consequences - both good and bad. We must decide for ourselves whether the positive consequences will outweigh the negative ones in a given situation.

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  • Jordan April 6, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Seems that Joe\'s point was that voting for war-funding IS connected to bicycles. He seems to be be saying that Earl has figured out that, if he focuses on Bikes, many Portlanders will ignore his collusion in the war

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  • Donna April 6, 2008 at 11:22 am

    That may well be his point, but this is a blog about bicycles, not war funding. All I know is that Earl Blumenauer was passionate about bicycle transportation as a City Commissioner. Perhaps I have my dates wrong, but I\'m pretty sure that was well before 9/11/2001.

    And again, this is a blog about bicycles and all that goes with riding one in this region. That\'s what I hope to read about when I come here and that\'s what I hope to discuss. There are plenty of venues to discuss other political topics.

    The bicycle transportation movement is young and fragile in this country and there is a significant risk of failure if we add too many other issues to the agenda. Our collective naivety could very well be our downfall. It\'s happened to movements before in our country\'s history, and it\'s certainly possible for it to happen again.

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  • Daniel (teknotus) Johnson April 6, 2008 at 11:36 am

    If lots of people switch to bikes we won\'t need to fight nearly so much for oil...

    Or have so many people die from obesity related health problems...

    Or have such high health insurance premiums paying for all the obesity related problems...

    Focusing on bikes can solve a lot of problems.

    I\'m sure many people in government have voted for things they didn\'t really believe in in order to get things done. This is the reality of how the system works.

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  • Jordan April 6, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    I\'m a native portlander who has never been behind the wheel of a car- bike issues are vital to me. But I urge you to not assume that these issues can be separated...

    Given the history of bicycles and warfare, it\'s clear that in a long-range strategy for global war, it is equally important for the powers-that-be that the population have non-fuel modes of transport.

    Good planning is neutral: it has been found in Curitiba during the brazilian dictatorship and it has been found in Vancouver in the middle of a Democracy.

    But don\'t be tricked by war-waging politicians that your one issue is so important that you must miss the heart of the current imperialist situation. Don\'t be bought.

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  • Donna April 6, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Jordan, the purpose of the Oregon Bicycle Summit is to get more and more Oregonians out on bicycles, not just Oregonians who share your political viewpoint about various other matters. It follows that we will need to attract Oregonians who may be wildly supportive of war-waging politicians. In order to be adequately funded, we will also need our state\'s politicians to be able to work at the national level with non-Oregonians who may be even more wildly supportive of war-waging politicians than the average Oregonian is.

    People of all political beliefs and ideologies are either supportive of or at least sympathetic to increasing the use of bicycles for a great many reasons. Your focus on other issues will limit the bicycle movement to a small group of people with little influence or ability to effect meaningful change.

    If your hope is for bicycling to remain an elite practice of people whose political views are very much in the minority in this country, you are off to a good start. As for myself, my time and energy are finite and become more so as I get older. I prefer not to fritter it away tilting at windmills.

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  • Jordan April 6, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Donna,

    I don\'t see you posting the same criticism for folks like Daniel (teknotus) Johnson who are using a left-wing anti-war political argument to explain why a bike-orientation is multi-issue. I\'m much more convinced by his whole-system perspective than the \"bikes at all cost\" single-platform approach that I think you seem to be arguing for (of course, i don\'t know you, so i might be completely wrong.)

    Like I said before, I whole-hartedly support a bike-agenda. However, even the best intentions can lead one down very narrow paths. I\'ve often found that one needs to switch back-and-forth between the issues at ones heart (such as bikes) and the larger context.

    As for the windmill comment. Whose to say what\'s a windmill and what\'s not? Some folks I know would say \"no-war at any cost\" and would label getting people to start riding bikes in this country \"chasing windmills.\"

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  • Jordan April 6, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    pardon my typos

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  • Joe Rowe April 6, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Hey Jonathan, thanks for the perfect question:

    Are War and Earl related to bikes? Is this appropriate to bikeportland.org ?

    If a husband failed to act to stop a wife from gambling your family to bankruptcy, you might as well just admit you are de-funding your kids. This is the perfect time to wake up the sleepy bike community. MLK said \"an injustice to anyone anywhere, is an injustice to everyone everywhere.\"

    Earl has refused to even dialog about impeachment. His duty in congress is to formally investigate ( impeachment hearing ) a president ignoring law, costing us 500 Billion wasted on war.

    The point for dialog here is this:
    Fail to stop the war, and you are de-funding bikes, education, etc?

    Our American system of Government should be executive-judicial-legislative branches with a balance of power. We have no such thing thanks to Earl.

    I like what you quoted about low hanging fruit. Earl can keep a lot of voters happy by taking some no risk efforts to help bikes and the environment. Throw us cyclists and tree-huggers a few bike lanes and get angry if we ever ask about war. Have you seen him get freaky when questioned on war? I have seen him in public enough to know the dude is totally insecure. He yelled at a vet who asked a question \"nobody has done more to stop the war than me\"

    If he just started talking about impeachment, the dialog of Americans would be a good step forward. People would be asking each other \"did our president break the law on torture, extreme signing orders, firing attorneys, wiretaps, lying to start the war, and lying to prolong the war, lying about letting energy companies draft legislation, etc etc.\"

    MLK also said \"In the end you will not remember the words of your enemy, but the silence of your friends\"

    Please reply.....I\'m looking forward to everyone\'s words and actions, call me if you want to volunteer to defeat Earl in the primary. (503) 282-769 three. Earl might just change his mind if people just speak up a bit.

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  • BURR April 6, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Until the bike community openly acknowledges and rectifies the rift between the pure \'vehicular\' cyclists and the pure \'separated facilities\' cyclists, and reaches a compromise which acknowledges the both the viewpoints of both groups and the unique challenges posed by cycling conditions in the US that both groups are capable of agreeing to, there will be little unified forward progress.

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  • Donna April 6, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Jordan,

    I didn\'t mention my views on the war nor any of my other political beliefs because this is a blog about bicycles, not about the war or any other political issue or ideology.

    I will repeat myself: The purpose of the Oregon Bicycle Summit is to get more and more Oregonians out on bicycles, not just Oregonians who share your political viewpoint about issues - or my political viewpoint, for that matter.

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  • Jordan April 6, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    i thought this blog was \"a daily, online news magazine that covers the Portland, Oregon bike scene.\" I would have thought that any issue related to bikes and portland would be up for discussion. This seems to include political opinions (such as \"should federal money go towards promoting bikes?\" or \"should our love of bikes get in the way of dealing with other issues in DC?\"

    but I guess it\'s only okay to talk about the Oregon Bicycle Summit. and i guess it\'s only okay to be apolitical when talking about the oregon bicycle summit. Because I\'m sure that bicycles are not a political issue at all.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 6, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    BURR:
    That is a cogent point you make. It seems to me that enormous progress can be made in overcoming such a rift by acknowledging and prioritizing one painfully obvious fact: FORTY TWO THOUSAND DEATHS PER YEAR IN THE US IN MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISIONS.

    Everyone here is aware of and can acknowledge this staggering fact. We should also pause to consider the full implications of it. These deaths are compounded further by hundreds of thousands of injuries, millions of affected relatives, and millions more people who are intimidated out of the peeaceful enjoyment of our streets and cities out of fear.

    Can we even begin to calculate the human suffering caused by this ongoing disaster? How many people would be walking or riding bikes, instead of driving mere blocks to the store, simply but for fear? How many wars over oil would be averted?

    Furthermore, we know that the causes of this carnage are largely unrelated to mistakes in the design and engineering of roads. The overwhelming majority of it is caused by HUMAN ERROR, INCOMPETENCE, and NEGLIGENCE.

    Therefore, we must focus on those things that can correct these causes: EDUCATION and ENFORCEMENT of very high safety standards in the operation of motorized vehicles.

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  • BURR April 6, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    PDOT refuses to address the issue of motorist ed head-on, instead preferring allegory, innuendo and subterfuge.

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  • DJ Hurricane April 6, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Antonio and BURR are correct - until we acknowledge that people driving automobiles kill far more people every year than terrorism and thus pose a huge public health threat to our communities - and until we educate those people on the laws they are subject to when driving - we cannot make cycling a viable mainstream transportation option. And that must be our goal, because the more people we get on bikes, the more advocates we will have.

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  • Jimboy April 6, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    I personally find it despicable that anyone can support Blumenauer and not at least try to hold his feet to the fire at any chance they can get to get him to either at least try to do something to stop the occupations and mass murders in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to stop the aggressive, destructive trade policies that he keeps signing on for.

    To say that the issue of bikes is separate from the issue of his tacit support of the mass murder is to be totally naive.

    While Hitler was exterminating Jews, he was giving awards to women for being good mothers and in all other ways attempting to make life jolly and sweet for the \"Aryans.\"

    What Earl is doing with bike transportation is little different. What keeps him in office is snookering Portlanders into thinking he is progressive by making bikes and transit his baby so that middle of the road \"progressive\" Portlanders will keep voting for him, while who he truly answers to are the same corporate fascists that feed and profit from the wars: the corporate heads and investors, and the private bankers who own the Federal Reserve and use taxpayer money to keep stuffing their pockets.

    Despite the huge outcry from his constituents to join other Representatives in calling for impeachment, to call for ending the funding, Earl keeps sitting on his hands and makes one excuse after the other why he cannot do his duty to protect our Constitution.

    Notice how Earl keeps hiding from his Constituents all stony faced when it comes to war and \"free\" trade but how he comes out all smiles with a green bicycle on his lapel when it comes to bikes. He knows how to get the votes.

    After years of excuse-making why impeachment must stay off the table, his latest ploy is to now state that impeachment is back on the table, but that investigations must come first. Ask him when he will put forth a resolution to start the investigations, and he remains silent. Why? Because he, like Pelosi and Reid, has no intentions of lifting a finger to stop the mass murder and destruction.

    And here we are, saying bikes in Portland are more important, and thus we cannot afford to upset him or vote for someone who will serve the district\'s constituents and will stand up for the Constitution. Astounding. And extremely self-centered.

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  • Matt Picio April 6, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Joe, Jordan - if the issue is the support of congresspeople for the war, what about Greg Walden, or Gordon Smith? Why is Earl Blumenaur your object of ire? Hundreds of congresspeople supported the war. Almost every one of them voted \"yes\" on the Patriot Act. And Donna\'s remarks about experience and seniority still stand. Before you start asking us to vote against Earl - have you sent an email to him expressing your discontent? Have you written him? Called his office? Called more than once? If you haven\'t expressed your opinion to him, how can you claim he\'s not representing your interests? And then why should I vote for another candidate?

    Earl supports bikes. I support Earl. He may have approved of the war when it started - so did most of the other 500+ members of congress. As for the last spending bill - that needed to be passed whether we stay in Iraq or not - it\'s going to cost a lot of $$$ to get everyone home, just like it did to send them out there in the first place. If congress didn\'t approve the spending bill, those soldiers, sailors and airmen wouldn\'t get paid, wouldn\'t have food, or water, nor the fuel they\'d need to come home.

    When you can debate the realities of war with the respect that the situation requires, then I\'ll be happy to extend the same courtesy to your arguments.

    Antonio (#20) said:

    \"How many people would be walking or riding bikes, instead of driving mere blocks to the store, simply but for fear? How many wars over oil would be averted?\"

    That has little, if anything to do with cars. It has to do with the culture of fear that has taken over this country since the early to mid-1980s. 30 years ago, people felt safe letting their kids walk to school, even in the middle of cities like Detroit and New York. What\'s changed? More cars? No. Detroit has fewer cars (they\'re in the suburbs now), New York was full of cars already. The difference is that 30 years ago, there were kids outside who would run and get a parent if anything happened, or at the sign of a threat that required a parent. People worked in their gardens, and looked out their windows. Now, the yards are deserted - the children play indoors, or are shuffled to a friend\'s house in a hermetically-sealed box. If a child is on the streets, there is no one else to run and get a parent if a stranger is walking around the neighborhood, or someone falls out of a tree and gets seriously injured - this reinforces the idea that outside is unsafe.

    Most of these problems are cultural. They\'ve taken decades to develop and they won\'t be fixed overnight. Portland is lucky in that it hasn\'t been affected to the same extent. But it could.

    How many of your neighbors have you met? How many do you talk to on a regular basis? Go meet \'em, build community. It\'s the most powerful tool we have.

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  • Jordan April 6, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    good comments Matt.

    well, i\'d have to say that a politician like smith knows his constituents... he is a republican and is listening to oregon republicans. Earl is my candidate for years. I grew up here and I voted for him to represent me. But he hasn\'t done that on these larger matters.

    I would like to say that my posts have not been about supporting Earl\'s competition (i havn\'t looked into the guy, don\'t know anything about him) but been about the issues of whether a conversation about war-politics belongs in a bike-forum. I think that it does.

    I would also like to add that I find portland a lot less friendly less civically engages and people less able to talk to each other than even 10 years ago... i agree that re-energizing civic engagement is essential. and I think that this requires talking ACROSS issues.

    I\'m also very nervious about single-issues become a dominate reason to vote for or against someone. I\'m not going to vote FOR earl because of bikes or AGAINST him because of the war-stuff. I\'m going to look at the whole picture.

    I\'m sure that focused rail and public transportation adovates where thrilled by Mussolini or by the Dictatorship in Brazil\'s experiment in Curitiba- but I would hope that we now can see that blind support for those regimes was not going to lead to a better world.

    I\'m happy China has such a great bike infrastructure and I hope that they don\'t move too much to car culture. but I can\'t separate that from Tibet.

    Why should I separate Iraq and my bike politics? That\'s all I\'m trying to say.

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  • Jean Reinhardt April 7, 2008 at 7:55 am

    Really want a cycling-friendly US? Vote for Republicans, as their foreign policy and military ideas will, sooner or later, guarantee a repeat of the 1973 oil squeeze, probably by further enraging dissident groups in countries like Saudi Arabia. The fact that our gasoline only costs @$3.75/gal. now is a temporary luxury that our temporary allies give us. We\'re in bed with pigs in the Mideast, and we could get muddy pretty soon.

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  • Dave April 7, 2008 at 7:57 am

    My Congressman Brian Baird kisses the ass of his constituents near Fort Lewis, seems to be the root of his Iraq gutlessness. Blumenauer has NO excuse for being such a wimp either on defunding the war or voting to impeach our War Criminals In Chief.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 7, 2008 at 11:38 am

    \"Single issue politics\" has certain distinct virtues that some antiwar folks here are neglecting to notice. The advantage to \"single issue politics\" is simply that people can get energized and motivated to take action on issues that directly affect them.

    It is only with great difficulty that people can get so energized about issues of global, large scale, and visionary humanitarian content, noble as those might be.

    Only a small minority of people can get sufficiently motivated on issues of that type, but experience suggests that in most cases they will not be able to politically outgun those people and interests who have the money to pay entire armies of lobbyists and flunkies to work fulltime for them in matters where they have a direct financial interest, areas such as military industrial policy, for example.

    The beauty of \"single issue politics\" of the right kind is that, if people are sufficiently passionate about them, for the right issues at least, effective change can be made that creates a more humane society.

    Even looking at such a mundane issue as traffic safety, for example, I believe that greatly reducing the 42,000 grisly deaths per year in this country and reducing the climate of fear generated by them would help in some significant measure to create a more humane, less stressful, less dog-eat-dog society, and help to free up more of people\'s energies for working on some of the other problems you are talking about.

    The same reasoning would apply to tackling such problems as affordable health care, affordable housing, etc. To the extent that ordinary working class people are able to live and work with some degree of simple security, on all levels -- including the security of being able to cross the street safely, of being able to pay their medical bills, of being able to have a roof over their heads -- then a greater percentage of those people will have the luxury to free up some of their energies to do other, sometimes more ennobling things with their free time than just sedating themselves on tv and beer and worrying about paying bills.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 7, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Matt Picio:
    You think fear of walking and riding bikes has \"little to do with cars\"?? Are you simply dismissing altogether all the official surveys that have been done on this subject, including those by PDOT locally???

    Naturally I don\'t think this is the sole impediment to getting more people walking and bike riding, and the other things you point to are important as well. That, however, is not an argument against starting somewhere, particularly somewhere as obvious as a phenomenon that is literally killing tens of thousands of people year-in-year-out, severely injuring hundreds of thousands more, and intimidating millions of people out of the peaceful, low impact, enjoyment of our city streets, roads, and other public places, in Portland and everywhere else in the US.

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  • bike lover too April 7, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    The point that some are trying to get across here is that Earl should not be getting a free pass from the bike community for his total lack of effort to end the criminal occupations Iraq and the White House.

    As there is no excuse for Earl not supporting impeachment and cutting the funding, there is no excuse for bike lovers to be all warm and fuzzy with Earl when he comes around to them while at the same time doing everything he can to shun and avoid his constituents who are calling for peace and accountability in the executive branch.

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  • wsbob April 8, 2008 at 12:33 am

    After all the comments made, some before, but most after, those of Donna #9, give me the most to think about. There\'s much that I don\'t know about how Washington works, but I\'m certain that some co-operation is required if anything at all is to be accomplished. Negotiation and compromise are requisite tools for getting things done.

    What would Joe Walsh say about that? On the basis of his website and what his outspoken supporters on this thread would seem to suggest, Joe Walsh would not be prepared to negotiate, compromise or co-operate on anything. Full, absolute compliance with the agenda of his constituents would be the only option acceptable to him. How far does anyone reading seriously think that would go in Washington?

    Would any member of Congress work with someone like Joe Walsh to get anything at all done? Is Joe Walsh the kind of guy that would have been able to persuade members of congress to withdraw their support from Bush\'s determination to invade Iraq and prevent that invasion from taking place?

    Re; fear of riding bikes. I have little doubt that many people are afraid to take a bike even as little as 3-4 blocks down the road for anything. Societal disassociation...that\'s the phrase I\'m using to describe what Matt Picio refers to in post #25, 5th paragraph is part of it, but the bigger factor from my own personal experience, is that \'cars rule\' as far as streets and roads are concerned.

    Many people that might ride short distances to shop or work, are deathly afraid of being run over. So they don\'t ride. Drive a car. It\'s easier and safer. That\'s what they think. Bikeways have got to get much better before people can be dislodged from their cars. Joe Walsh doesn\'t seem to have anything to say about something like this on his website.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 8, 2008 at 3:37 am

    wsbob:
    Hmm. I for one actually welcome Joe Walsh\'s efforts, re Blumenauer. In your dismissal of his approach, you are forgetting something: He is not a legislator. His job is not to patiently hammer out compromises on Capitol Hill. He is a citizen who is trying to patiently hammer away at injustice. There is much virtue in both of those vocations provided they are each carried out with integrity and passion.

    Also, please consider that there are different modes of what you call \"compromise.\" The one with integrity that achieves lasting positive reforms still requires a certain fierce dedication and fearlessness. Is this the one that Blumenauer is in now? Because there is also another mode of compromise: a certain smug complacency and paycheck collecting that prizes personal comfort and career advancement over courage and struggle. If this is Blumenauer\'s path, then he deserves the boot, instantly.

    It is the citizen\'s job to ride herd on legislators, not to simply pat them on the head for saying kind words about their causes. Whether your issue is transportation reforms -- the subject of most of our discussions here -- or war and peace -- the issue that principally concerns Joe Walsh: If you want results out of Blumenauer, you had better also keep asking him tough questions, too.

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  • wsbob April 8, 2008 at 9:47 am

    I\'m not dismissing Joe Walsh\'s efforts for peace and justice. As a private citizen, demonstrating on the street, writing letters and so forth, he\'s probably just fine. I haven\'t met him personally, but he looks familiar from the weekly demonstrations on Fridays at Pioneer Square.

    What I am questioning, is his effectiveness, if he were a member of U.S. Congress trying to get anything done. I don\'t think he would be effective in Congress. By the information offered on his website, it doesn\'t appear that he has anything close to the knowledge, skills and disposition required to address issues that members of Congress must deal with on a daily basis.

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  • Willie Smith April 8, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Just to set the record straight:

    Earl voted against the War in Iraq and has introduced legislation to stop it. He has also voted against funding the war unless there is a time line for troop withdrawal.

    He also voted against the Patriot Act.

    He has also done several town halls and forums on the War, on accountability, and on stopping Bush\'s war drums on Iran

    I understand that too some that is not enough, but

    Willie Smith

    P.S. He also loves bikes (as most people know).

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  • Willie Smith April 8, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    my post cut off at one point..it should have read..

    \"I understand that to some that is not enough, but I wanted to at least get those facts out there.\"

    Sorry for the cut off

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  • bikerbabe April 8, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Thanks for the good coverage as always, Jonathan. It always makes this Oregonian proud to see what a strong, levelheaded movement there is in Oregon.

    Re: Blumenauer and the war. I would ask my fellow impassioned posters to do a little research before making claims. Blumenauer did not vote to authorize the war, nor has he ever voted to reauthorize. He\'s consistently voted against funding it, except in cases when funding for troops and equipment was tied to withdrawl dates and deadlines. Never a vote to fund it without that provision. As someone who doesn\'t support the war, but has a brother who was in Iraq as a a guardsman without appropriate armor- i appreciate the effort.

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  • leisure biker April 8, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Some research for Bikerbabe:
    \"Blumenauer did not vote to authorize the war, nor has he ever voted to reauthorize. He\'s consistently voted against funding it, except in cases when funding for troops and equipment was tied to withdrawl dates and deadlines\"

    Go and back and read the wording of the non-binding resolutions and weasel-worded supplementals that Earl supported, e.g.:

    Earl voted YES on 3/23/07 on Vote 186: H R 1591:

    Prohibited the use of funds to deploy any troops to Iraq unless the military had \"certified\" to congressional appropriators in advance that the military unit is fully mission-capable. The measure authorized the president to waive the prohibition and deployment limits on a unit-by-unit basis for reasons of national security.

    Earl voted YES on 4/25/07 on Vote 265: H R 1591:

    $124.2 billion. Bush had to \"certify\" that the Iraqi government was meeting certain diplomatic and security benchmarks. If that certification were made, deployment would begin no later than Oct. 1, 2007, with a goal of completing the redeployment by within 180 days. Some U.S. forces could remain in Iraq for special counterterrorism efforts along with protection, training and equipping Iraqi troops. In other words, all \"benchmarks\" approved by Earl gave Bush the choice to say whether or not they’ve been met, and then to say that \"special\" troops could remain.

    Earl voted YES on 11/14/07 on Vote 1108: H R 4156:

    Set a goal for Bush to begin \"redeploying\" (another weasel word) U.S. troops.

    Earl also weaseled out of supporting progressive legislation on the occupation last year (H.R. 508, which required the withdrawal from Iraq of \"all U.S. Armed Forces and contractor security forces within six months\"), instead presenting his own H.R. 663 (\"New Direction for Iraq Act\"), a masterfully constructed bit of fluff.

    Let\'s climb out of the memory hole:

    Authorization for Use of Military Force, H.J. Res. 64

    Representative Earl Blumenauer voted YES.

    On Friday, September 14, 2001, the United States House of Representatives passed H.J. Res. 64, \"Authorization for Use of Military Force\" by a vote of 420 - 1. Barbara Lee was the only person who voted to uphold and defend the Constitution\'s separation of powers principle, the principle that no one person should be empowered to conduct war on behalf of the United States. Barbara Lee was the only person who voted to deny George W. Bush the authority to single-handedly conduct war against unspecified nations, organizations, or persons for an unspecified duration. So Earl\'s \"opposition\" to the authorization in \'03 was too late to prevent Bush from doing what he already was authorized to do.

    Earl refused to support the McGovern Amendment, part of the Declaration of Peace, which would have cut off Iraq funding. (He issued the equivalent of a Bush \"signing statement\", claiming to be for peace, but only if no effective way of enforcing it were enacted.)

    Earl could have joined Kucinich in pressuring Pelosi into disallowing any supplemental to the floor of the House for debate or voting, thus making all this moot. He is not a progressive, and he is not anti-war, even if a peace group rates him higher than the other members of the Oregon delegation.

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  • Bobby April 8, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    i don\'t know what to say other than \"leisure biker,\" who\'s actually a guy named harry kershner, and who makes that same post all over the place is full of it when he describes those votes. he\'s lying about what each of those bills did. he\'s a professional troll and not worth dealing with.

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  • BURR April 8, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    wow! politics has gotten as ugly as infighting amongst the \'bike community\'. or was that the other way around???

    I say keep the mudslinging to the cyclocross track!

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  • Joe Rowe April 8, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Earl\'s no votes on war bills are welcomed but they have no result. He can\'t use that for self promotion, it\'s what Portlanders expect. The one tool we know would change the war is the one he refused to dialog about, the one that is \"off the table\" because Nancy gave him a seat on the Ways and Mean committee.

    \"Far more senior members never get the chance to serve on Ways and Means. But Blumenauer has won favor in the national Democratic Party\"

    \"Arguably, it\'s the best committee,\" Blumenauer boasted \"

    \"Blumenauer admits to lusting after a Ways and Means slot long before he joined Congress in 1996.\"

    It\'s clear he lusts for power, not the love of doing what the majority of his district people know to be best.

    And this whole thing about Joe Walsh being a risk if he wins the primary. I love the comments from all sides. Keep it up.

    I had to think about this.... Let\'s think back to 1992 when right wingers swept out spineless democrats everywhere who could not get their voters to the polls. No significant number of voters for Earl in 2006 will vote against Joe Walsh in the final 2008 election against a republican in Portland. Earl can try to get back in office in 2010.

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  • leisure biker April 8, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Bobbie, be quiet if you don\'t know what to say. I am a woman who did some research on the stuff that someone else (Harry Kershner? posted and found it to be accurate. Just because you don\'t like it does not make it not true.

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  • wsbob April 9, 2008 at 12:12 am

    \"And this whole thing about Joe Walsh being a risk if he wins the primary.\" Joe Rowe

    Risk? What risk? Walsh isn\'t going to win the primary. Does anyone seriously think he\'ll win? For Walsh, running is a strategy for the purpose of raising awareness about ending the war, and that\'s just fine. It shouldn\'t have been started in the first place, except for that fool Bush and his band of morons.

    Leisure biker knows way more than I do about bills, and how Blumenauer voted on them. I think studying them is good as a means of tracking the implications of votes made by elected representatives.

    Personally, I\'m not prepared to condemn Blumenauer on the basis of his votes. My impression of him is that while he might not be an uncompromising opponent of the Bush war, he\'s a good guy and far from being a war monger or a bush-ite.

    A congressperson\'s voting records can entangle them in unfavorable world consequences that aren\'t necessarily consistent with their values or intent. In congress, they have to deal with other people from states having wildly divergent interests from that of their own. When the deals and wacky logic get laid on the table, things can get very messy and confusing. Would Joe Wash or Joe Rowe have been able to do any better than Blumenauer in Washington. I know I wouldn\'t have.

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  • leisure biker April 9, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    In an ideal world lawmakers would earn a family physician type salary. May be then they can go back to serve the people again, and leave the big $ behind. Someone above wrote something about how earl has all the connections and knows his way around Washington much better than a newcomer. To me that\'s THE reason why a newcomer needs a chance. A newcomer is not yet corrupt or knows the way to corruption.He/she would still have serving their constituents foremeost on the mind, espcially someone from a working class background such as Joe Walsh.They would not (yet) sell their souls to Pelosico
    It\'s up to the constituents to keep a very close watch on new congress people, and hold their feet to the fire if needed.
    Portland\'s liberal dems are not willing to do so with Earl. They want to see that this weasel, from the bowtie down, is wearing no clothes .

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  • Harry Kershner April 9, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Bobby said: \"i don\'t know what to say other than \"leisure biker,\" who\'s actually a guy named harry kershner, and who makes that same post all over the place is full of it when he describes those votes. he\'s lying about what each of those bills did. he\'s a professional troll and not worth dealing with.\"

    There are two ways \"Bobby\" and I differ:

    (1.) I don\'t hide my identity.

    (2.) I tell the truth.

    \"Leisure Biker\" did indeed copy an argument I made on blueoregon (the only site I posted it to).

    My post is factual, and you should realize that only a Blumenauer operative would lie about this.

    It\'s easy enough for anyone to check on the validity of what I wrote: http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/b000574/votes/, the Washington Post record of votes taken, with information available on the text of the bills (3 or 4 clicks away). Or, alternatively, here\'s a quick way to get there on, e.g., H R 1591: google \"The measure authorized the president to waive the prohibition and deployment limits on a unit-by-unit basis for reasons of national security.\"
    Then you\'ll know who is lying, and then you\'ll be able to figure out why that person lied.

    Here are a couple of other facts: in general, the members of Congress are hated more than Bush by the American public (Bush is approved by about 28% and Congress by about half that); the public disapproves of OTHER congressional members, not their own. In other words, we tend to believe that, \"Congress is a bunch of weasels, but not my rep.\" Until a majority comes to understand that it is indeed my rep, nothing will be done to produce political change.

    Hold their feet to the fire, even the ones who ride bikes and wear bowties.

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  • Ryan April 10, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Wow, I\'m amazed at how much this thread has been sidetracked onto extraneous political issues (???). I\'ll expand on Burr\'s comment in post #18.

    I\'m finding myself more and more on the vehicular cycling side of the \"rift\" that Burr describes. I\'m not sure if many others feel the way that I do; the topic of vehicular cycling seems to be very much misunderstood, misconstrued, and played out to be much more difficult and complicated than it actually is. I have no intent of trying to convince anyone of it\'s merits for the above reasons, the arguments just get too ridiculous.

    I think the majority of cyclists don\'t realize just how damaging bicycle-specific laws are and Oregon\'s in particular. The ever-expanding bike lane network in Portland is making it all the more concerning for me, especially since so many of these bike lanes are inherently dangerous (yet are somehow intended for beginners, the logical contradictions just make my head spin).

    Although some may say that the law \"allows\" for cyclists to leave a bike lane or \"take the lane\", that in fact is just the problem. We are forced to justify our use of the road, something motorists never have to do, because everyone knows that motorists have the right to use the road. Nobody ever questions that.

    I\'ve read several court case summaries of car-bike accidents or police ticketing cyclists for violations of the discriminatory laws. In almost every case, the jury, judge, police officer and/or prosecuting attorney start with an active or passive (passive meaning they \"support\" cycling, so long as it is done off of the \"dangerous\" roadways) anti-cyclist bias. Nothing really surprising there, but when the discriminatory laws come into play they find that yes, indeed, their prejudicial view is in fact correct in the eyes of the law.

    I\'ve read summaries of cyclists getting hit from behind (a rare accident of course) where the motorist was clearly at fault (drunk, exceeding the speed limit, reckless driving, etc.), but the motorist\' attorney used the far-right rule to try and convince the jury that the cyclist was at fault for basically being in the way. In some cases the attorneys and expert witnesses representing the cyclist had to measure the width of travel lane to prove that the cyclist met one of the exceptions of the far-right rule! There are similar cases when a cyclist is hit outside of bike lane and must justify leaving the bike lane for the same reasons. This overrides the normal overtaking law that drivers overtaking must make sure they can do it safely, and the driver being overtaken (be it a motorist, cyclist, horse-drawn carriage, whatever) must only make it as convenient as is safe as judged by that driver. At times it even overrides the obvious fact that the motorist was drunk or vastly exceeding the speed limit!

    Isn\'t that absurd how a more vulnerable road user, riding a non-polluting vehicle that consumes less road space-hours and doesn\'t present a public danger must justify their use of the road, even when hit by a more dangerous road user that is otherwise clearly in the wrong? That is exactly what our current judicial system allows.

    That\'s basically my greatest fear; not traffic itself but the inferior legal status that I have and the possible consequences if I get hit and I\'m basically doing nothing wrong (I also fear getting ticketed). If all the bike lanes and bike boxes and other facilities are made purely optional, and their is a concerted effort to repeal the discriminatory laws, I would feel much better (and safer).

    I\'d still like to see all the bike facilities carefully designed for the safety of those that use them. I tried to compel PDOT to carefully design the new bike boxes, but was stonewalled and now we have unapproved (and defective) traffic control devices that PDOT put in in defiance of FHWA approval. Oh well, it doesn\'t seem like anyone really cares. Now that PPD is enforcing use of the bike boxes, I\'m avoiding the intersections that have them as much as possible.

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  • LIZ April 10, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    BIKES ARE WONDERFUL!!!
    WAR IS HELL!!!
    I am very ashamed of the priorities
    that the US congress has inflicted
    upon us citizens.
    I heard Earl mention his values.
    Earl, in case you forgot you are not there
    to express your values, you are there to represent your constituency.
    Stop the war. NOW!!!
    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE STOP IT!
    for the benefit of the entire globe.

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  • Mark April 21, 2008 at 1:09 am

    Steven Colbert says Blumenauer\'s \"obsession with bicycles borders on the interesting...\" One might add that his exhortation to \"hold the weasels accountable\" borders on the credible.
    First off, I see only one \"weasel\" mentioned, some low-level Republicrud (more of a \"baby ferret\" really) who made the predictably snarky comment that bicycles are \"a Nineteenth Century solution to a Twentieth Century problem\". Why can\'t Earl hold the big game vermin \"accountable\" and get on board with Kucinich\'s effort to impeach Dick Cheney? Not only has Cheney lied on camera and violated Constitutional law he has gotten us embroiled in an unjust and ruinous war without end via his ventriloquism dummy of a president, Howdy Doody W. Bush, Jr. He refused to divulge the names of the people he consulted with prior to the Enron debacle (on the public\'s dime, no less) in formulating the administration\'s Neanderthal energy policy, was complicit in exposing the identity of a CIA agent, which should be prosecuted as treason because it is and has described energy conservation as \"a sign of personal virtue but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.\" I guess a better one would be \"let Ken Lay\'s free market cowboys game the energy grid in California and rip off \'Grandma Tillie\'\" (how quickly we forget).
    If some bicyclists don\'t think it hurts the cause to have a pair of vindictive, anti-ethical old oil baron buzzards in charge of the country without the least attempt by Congress to do its job and at least try to remove these glorified criminals from office I question whether what they ARE thinking \"borders on consciousness.\"
    It\'s never too late to practice what you preach, Earl--HOLD THE WEASELS ACCOUNTABLE.

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