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Stakes have never been higher for upcoming National Bike Summit

Posted by on November 11th, 2016 at 10:02 am

DC bike scenes

You might want to consider showing up this year.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

As the reality settles in that we are just two months away all three branches of our federal government being controlled by Republicans, people who advocate for cycling need to take stock.

Yes I know, cycling isn’t always a purely partisan issue, but let’s not be naïve: The fact is a large majority of powerful, high-profile Republicans tend to strongly support transportation policies that favor the use of motorized vehicles.

Put another way, interest groups that don’t make cycling accessible infrastructure a priority see a friendly ear in President-elect Donald Trump. And early signs make it clear that automobile-centric interests are lining up to take advantage their new friend in the White House. To counter what could be a transformative era (to put it mildly) in national transportation politics, people who care about bicycling need to line up against — or figure out a way to align with — these forces.

One place to do that is at the annual National Bike Summit hosted in Washington D.C. by the League of American Bicyclists.

I eagerly attended the Summit every year between 2006 and 2014 (except the year my son was born). In the last two years I felt like the Summit had lost its mojo (or maybe it was just me) and I didn’t feel a compelling reason to be there. Now I’m thinking it’s time to go back. Beyond the obvious implications of Tuesday’s election, there are forboding signs that bicycling advocates must acknowledge and prepare for.

News outlets reported yesterday that the auto industry has already started efforts to roll back fuel economy mandates installed by the Obama administration.

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“Stock prices for U.S. automakers rose sharply Thursday amid signs that fuel economy standards could be weakened under the administration of President Donald Trump,” reported Detroit News. And a story in Automotive News reported, “Major automakers are seizing on the infancy of President-elect Donald Trump’s administration to mount a push to ease regulatory headaches faced under President Obama.”

Cycling advocates have faced Republican administrations before. In 2007, the Bush administration’s secretary of transportation Mary Peters infamously quipped that “bike paths” are not transportation infrastructure.

But just like Trump presents a much different set of operating instructions than fellow Republican George Bush, it’s very likely his transportation secretary will too.

A story in the New York Times this morning says the adviser Trump has tapped to help him pick transportation and infrastructure staff is the chairman of a D.C. law firm who counts the National Asphalt Pavement Association as a client.

In a blog post Wednesday, NAPA said they’ve already starting working with the Trump transition team on issue “including funding for highways” and “Critical Commerce Corridors.”

Trump says he wants to pass infrastructure legislation in his first 100 days — which puts the National Bike Summit on March 6th through 9th right at the tail-end of that push. NAPA plans to join the Transportation Construction Coalition in D.C. for a “Legislative Fly-in” event on May 17th. “The fly-in will occur,” they say on their website, “at a critical time and your help will be needed to pass the Trump plan in Congress.”

See you at the Summit.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

30 Comments
  • Spiffy November 11, 2016 at 10:20 am

    oddly I couldn’t find a registration link on the page… but I did find it via Google…

    Registration is now open: $615 non-member ($515 member)

    https://bikeleague.secure.force.com/MN4__PublicEventRegistration?id=a0k16000006Exc6AAC

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    • Beaverton_Biker November 11, 2016 at 10:58 am

      For $615, can we get more details on what is included in this price? The website states, “keynote addresses from top government officials, members of Congress, and leaders from advocacy and industry; workshops that highlight innovative advocacy ideas and trends from around the country; and, of course, an organized Lobby Day to bring our message about the benefits of bicycling to our elected officials on Capitol Hill” but a more personal account from someone who has attended would be useful for someone considering dropping $1200+ (not including flight).

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 11, 2016 at 11:15 am

        Hi Beaverton_Biker,

        I’ve reported dozens of accounts of daily activities at the summit. You can browse my past coverage in the archives.

        In a nutshell, the Summit is really the only annual national gathering of bike advocates and advocacy groups. The idea is that all strains of the movement (fun/culture, racing, industry, tourism/recreation, transporation/utility, community bike shops, and so on) pull together for 3-4 days to network, learn the latest best practices and info, get inspired… and perhaps most importantly, join their state delegation for a full day of lobbying on capitol hill.

        There are two days workshops and panel discussion sessions and speeches and the lobbying day. There’s also a group ride on the last day.

        You’re right though, it’s not easy or cheap to attend. But there are scholarships available and if you want to get more involved in the coalition for better cycling in the U.S., this is a good place to start.

        I’m hoping that the League continues to be relevant and can still bring all the other major groups (IMBA, People for Bikes, and so on) together. I think the League has lost some impact in the past few years, but I don’t see a better option at this point so it feels like the right place to focus energy given the stakes in D.C. right now. Stay tuned and I hope you can consider attending.

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        • Gerik November 14, 2016 at 1:28 pm

          Quick question, is the lobby day scheduled when Congress is in recess again?

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  • Spiffy November 11, 2016 at 10:23 am

    venue is not on a bike street? I wonder if that’s on purpose…

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    • Eric Leifsdad November 11, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      Every street is a bike street.

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  • J_R November 11, 2016 at 10:38 am

    There’s already a Trump plan to privatize the highways. There’s an article on Slate at:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/11/04/donald_trump_s_plan_to_privatize_america_s_roads_and_bridges.html

    I’d bet on a massive decrease in funding for all things beneficial to bicyclists and pedestrians.

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    • Pete November 11, 2016 at 10:47 am

      Including the air we breathe and water we drink, as Speaker Ryan joins in the call to stop the EPA from “harassing” farmers and put coal miners and lumberjacks “back to work.”

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    • John Lascurettes November 11, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      Also including car lobbyists looking to roll back MPG regulations among many others: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/2016/11/10/cafe-standards/93603504/

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    • Spiffy November 11, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      although the article makes it sound bad, doesn’t this means that roads will once again pay for themselves?

      after several main roads fall into disrepair due to their being unprofitable people will start to realize how funding actually worked before…

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  • wsbob November 11, 2016 at 10:38 am

    “…The fact is a large majority of powerful, high-profile Republicans tend to strongly support transportation policies that favor the use of motorized vehicles. …” maus

    For myself, the far more important, relevant way to regard the question of support from legislators and government figures, is various numbers of them, likely don’t see the bicycle as a significant means by which to energize or aid the economy, either by easing traffic congestion, or being able to boost sales of goods or delivery of freight.

    All political figures have to strongly support policies favoring motor vehicle use, because it’s that means of ground travel and transport, over trains and bikes, upon which the country is able to get its workforce to work, transport goods, etc.

    Personally, to deal with motor vehicle produced traffic congestion, I think it’s important, crucial even, to design new communities and refit old ones to provide for safe, comfortable and enjoyable travel by foot and bike, and even skateboard. No problem at all though, in recognizing that the people Trump is likely to appoint to his cabinet, may not want to give a hoot or holler…unless it’s in gleeful ridicule, for use of the road with bikes.

    This looks to be a very strange presidential administration on our doorstep. Seriously? Being considered for top positions: Newt Gingrich? Giuliani?

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  • Jeff Jetton November 11, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Don’t know how much of a ray of hope it will be, but it might be worth noting that Vice President Elect Pence went for a bike ride prior to voting Tuesday. https://twitter.com/mike_pence/status/796021567461478400

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    • Spiffy November 11, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      those are true mountain bikes…

      think they ever see real dirt?

      her helmet isn’t even adjusted properly…

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      • rick November 11, 2016 at 1:34 pm

        with documentation where? investigate?

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    • Adam H. November 11, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      That man is a monster. The fact that he rode a bike just makes him a monster on a bike.

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  • MIke Sanders November 11, 2016 at 11:54 am

    And MSNBC’s Facebook page this morning quoted Mitch McConnell as saying to President Obama shortly after Obama took office: “I will not do my job until you leave the White House.” He was further quoted as saying that he considered that act to be the proudest moment of his career.

    One does have to wonder about the national bike route system and projects like the proposed MAX SW PDX corridor. Will Trump’s administration embrace them, or put them on hold for the duration of his time at the WH? If it turns out to be the latter, then SW MAX might be on the shelf for 10 years or more.

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  • rick November 11, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Reality check: Hillary voted to bail out the auto industry.

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    • Eric Leifsdad November 11, 2016 at 12:21 pm

      768 teaspoons in a gallon. Anti-Hillary progressives will get about 200x more of the corruption and power grabbing they opposed in her.

      I’m not for democrats or republicans, but against tearing down the limits on pipelines and shredding climate change agreements. While everyone is distracted with X vs Y politics, smart money keeps playing both sides and killing it. We need nationwide ranked ballots, vote by mail, and popular vote. End both parties.

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    • Spiffy November 11, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      Reality check: There were more than 2 candidates.

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      • Chris I November 12, 2016 at 1:28 pm

        There will only ever be 2 candidates until we abolish the electoral college.

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        • Eric Leifsdad November 12, 2016 at 10:07 pm

          Maine adopted ranked-choice ballots, but not for the presidential election. I don’t think the electoral college would be incompatible with ranked-choice ballots. But if they don’t act now, they’ll have shown themselves to be unnecessary.

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  • Michael Rubenstein November 11, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    It’s not just that our president elect may be motor vehicle-centric, he has publicly ridiculed bicyclists.

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    • rick November 14, 2016 at 11:45 am

      Hillary voted to bail out the auto industry.

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  • Robert November 11, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Whatever you may think of the views of VP-elect Mike Pence, he does appear to be a cycling enthusiast, taking a bike ride just before voting on election day, and participating in bike ride charity events.

    http://www.breitbart.com/live/2016-election-day-live-updates/mike-pence-rides-bicycle-polling-place/

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  • Scott Mizée November 11, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    I’m very interested in seeing what happens at this year’s summit. I’ve always wanted to attend. I wish I could work it into a business trip…
    **stops public whining and walks away**

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  • Bay Area Rider November 12, 2016 at 6:03 am

    Ah the Republicans wil not control all three branches of the government since the supreme court is non partisan and no political party controls that branch of the government.

    As for appointing judges to the supreme court the Republicans only have 51 votes in the senate. You need 60 votes to close debate in the senate before you can vote on a bill or a nomination, except for federal, non supreme court judges, and it was the Democrats who managed to change the cloture rules in the senate for that one thing. Oh and for reconciliation bills which are limited to budget issues is the other area in the senate where you only need 51 votes to get things done. To get a judge on the supreme court the Republicans will need the support of 9 Democratic senators to close debate on the nomination of any supreme court judge before a vote can be taken on that nomination.

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    • Robert Burchett November 13, 2016 at 10:48 am

      Well, until they change the Senate rules. But wait that would be wrong and the R party always respects the tradition of the advice and consent process and plays ball with the folks across the aisle, not.

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  • Larey K November 12, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    I don’t see anything the Feds have done for cycling in my community, even over the last 8 years. Everything that’s been done has all been either City or County. So I’m not especially worried about which party is currently in power.

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    • rick November 14, 2016 at 11:44 am

      which community?

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    • Gerik November 14, 2016 at 1:27 pm

      Federal funding dedicated to biking and walking projects in the Portland region totals at least $91M from Regional Flexible Funds (RFF) in the last ~7 years. I think that number is a very low estimate considering other investments of federal funds that were not allocated through the RFF process. Many, many projects here are a direct result of federal policy and funding.

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