Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on April 19th, 2010 at 11:18 am
The article below is a guest post by U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer.
When I first came to Congress in 1996, the concept of cyclists as a powerful advocacy group was, at best, near fetched. Now, almost fifteen years later, I am constantly impressed and inspired by the bicycle community’s passion, commitment, organization and advocacy efforts.
At the League of American Bicyclist Summit in March, Secretary LaHood made the exciting announcement that motorized transportation will no longer take priority at the expense of non-motorized transportation. On the heels of this, the cycling community galvanized behind him. As the Secretary himself has said, this policy change doesn’t drastically change funding levels or mean that the Department of Transportation no longer builds roads; it simply recognizes biking and walking as valid modes of transportation.
I commend the Secretary for this policy clarification and the cycling community for its support and advocacy.
“The bike community’s response was powerful, on-point and timely—so effective, in fact, that Mr. LaTourette quickly clarified his comments and reiterated his support of bicycles as a transportation tool.”
Unfortunately, there are other members of the transportation world who are not as thrilled about this policy as we are. In particular, during a late March hearing, some of my Republican colleagues took a page from the Tea Party and directed inflammatory comments at the Secretary about the DOT’s clarified policy. While these comments show how much work still needs to be done when it comes to educating people about cycling and walking as transportation modes, the cycling community reacted quickly, intelligently, and effectively.
One of the best examples of the impact the cycling community had was with my colleague Mr. LaTourette. I have worked with him in the past on many issues, and I value his interest in and support of infrastructure. I have especially appreciated his leadership as an original co-sponsor of CLEAN TEA (the Clean Low-Emission, Affordable New Transportation Efficiency Act) to help communities reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. That was why I was taken aback by the March Transportation and Infrastructure hearing. His comments as reported were, to say the least, troubling as he aggressively questioned a DOT official regarding the Administration’s nonmotorized policy.
The bike community’s response was powerful, on-point and timely—so effective, in fact, that Mr. LaTourette quickly clarified his comments and reiterated his support of bicycles as a transportation tool.
I welcome his clarification and look forward to working with him in the future on cycling initiatives.
This is yet another example of the bike advocates being forceful in protecting what we have fought so hard to achieve. I want to congratulate the cycling community on a job well done and more importantly, remind each and every one of us that with this kind of passion and commitment, we can work together to ensure that this upcoming Transportation Authorization will be the best bicycling bill ever. Keep up the great work.