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Bike advocates respond to Obama’s Interior Secretary pick

Thursday, February 7th, 2013
Sally Jewell at her nomination announcement.
(Photo: Pete Souza/White House)

If you’ve been biking for a few years, chances are you have something in your closet from national outdoor retailer REI. Now the CEO of that company, Sally Jewell has been picked by President Obama to be Secretary of the Interior. With that job comes the rather large responsibility of managing our public lands — many acres of which include (or should include) bicycle access.

Not surprisingly, people who care about the outdoors and about bicycling are thrilled at Jewell’s nomination. REI is a company that has built a solid reputation for not only their commitment to selling bicycles and bike products (not to mention their highly regarded Novara brand), but they are also good partners in the communities they operate in. They regularly donate to bike-related non-profits and they host bike events and clinics at their stores. For many people, the local REI is also the local bike shop.
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Transportation bill imminent: Here’s where things stand

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
National Bike Summit 2010 - Lobby Day-22
It doesn’t look good.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Members of the House and Senate have been working since April to hammer out an agreement on the transportation bill. When I checked in on the bill’s progress last month, advocates were fighting to lobby members of the conference committee (put together to hash out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill) to keep key provisions and leave out others in.

Advocates hope to stave off a shift in how states access Transportation Enhancements money. The fear is that House Republicans will succeed in keeping provisions that make it very easy for states to opt-out of spending money on TE projects that would boost bicycling and walking and instead shift those to maintaining and building new roads and bridges. Other concerns are that key programs like Safe Routes to School and Recreation Trails (which funds natural surface trail and off-road bicycling projects) would be scrapped altogether. (more…)

The national security argument for Safe Routes to School

Friday, June 22nd, 2012
Buckman Elem. bike safety class
More cycling = more soldiers.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a battle royale going on in the U.S. Congress over the transportation bill right now. Members of the House and Senate are in negotiations to come up with some sort of agreement about how to actually pass a bill, instead of just extending the current one for the umpteenth time.

Included in these high-level talks are, once again, threats to change how cities and states fund projects that improve biking and walking. House Republicans and some Senators say they want to take away local control over spending on key programs like Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails.

Suffice it to say, League of American Bicyclists president Andy Clarke isn’t taking it well. He’s pressing California Senator Barbara Boxer to reject the Republicans’ “small-minded and vindictive attacks” against bicycling and keep her promise to maintain these programs and retain local control over them. In a blog post this week, Clarke listed his top 10 reasons why Congress should not mess with biking and walking programs. (more…)

Advocates gird for battle to save biking in federal transpo bill

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Cover of the bill (because
transportation is all about
big pipes and ugly freeway
overpasses right?!).

Once again, national advocacy groups are prepping the cannons for an all out assault on Congress as word spreads that the U.S. House of Representatives is will unveil a new surface transportation bill — dubbed the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act — today.

What do national advocacy groups and other advocates think about it?

“This Is Not a Drill: Highway Lobby Trying to Push Transpo Bill Thru Congress,” reads a headline from Streetsblog DC.
(more…)

League starts petition to stave off Senate sidepath stipulation

Friday, November 11th, 2011
A tour of the West Side-12
A sidepath in Beaverton.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Mandatory sidepath laws — which state that bikes must use a sidepath/bikeway when one is available — are the bane of bicycling advocates. They’re seen as a clear sign of disrespect and inequality on our roads. The fact that Oregon still has one was called out by the League of American Bicyclists in 2008 as one of the main reasons for our disappointed fourth place bike-friendly state ranking.

Now the League is faced with the mother of all mandatory sidepath laws — the one that currently exists in MAP-21, the new transportation reauthorization bill that has already passed out of the Senate. As we pointed out earlier this week, the bill includes this unsavory passage: (more…)

Advocates prep for battle after release of draft U.S. transportation bill

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
BTA Alice Awards 2010-36
The BTA’s Rob Sadowsky is
already working contacts in DC
to improve the bill.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released their long-awaited transportation reauthorization bill last week (known as MAP-21), sending alarms throughout national bike advocacy circles because it, according to Streetsblog DC “eviscerates successful and popular programs to make biking and walking safer.”

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance immediately signaled they would gird for battle due to the bill’s “very alarming setbacks.”
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Advocates fight for key funding pot as debate heads to Capitol Hill

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
East Sunday Parkways-33
The Springwater Corridor Trail is one of many
projects around the region funded
by the federal Transportation
Enhancements program.
(Photo © J. Maus)

National bike advocacy and transportation groups are pulling out all the stops to help preserve the Transportation Enhancement (TE) program, a vital source of funds that has existed for two decades and this year alone pumped about $700 million into bicycling and walking projects (which is just a paltry 2 percent of the total spending).

The transportation bill is long overdue for a re-authorization, but yesterday the House and Senate agreed to yet another six month extension. Advocates breathed a sigh of relief when the agreement was a “clean” extension, meaning all existing programs would remain in tact. However, that agreement is set for debate in the House today on Capitol Hill, and advocacy groups’ worries now shift to making sure it stays clean.
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US Postal Service unveils “Bicycling Forever” stamps

Friday, July 22nd, 2011
New “Bicycle Forever” stamps set to be released sometime next year. Design is by USPS art director Phil Jordan using illustrations by John Mattos.

(more…)

Dems: Oregon would lose over $1 billion in House proposal

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

House Democrats have reacted sharply to the transportation reauthorization proposal released yesterday by the Republican-controlled House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.

Among the issues they (and many other critics) have with the bill is that it cuts back infrastructure spending by one-third from current levels.

To help drive that point home, House Democrats have published a state-by-state breakdown of how the Republican’s funding reduction proposal could impact spending (PDF).

According to their numbers (based on FHWA data), Oregon would get $2,975,097,936 over the next six years at current transportation funding levels. Over that same time period, the current House proposal would send $1,968,585,926 to Oregon — for a difference of $1,006,512,010. (more…)

‘A New Direction’? U.S. House releases transportation bill proposal

Thursday, July 7th, 2011
Cover of the proposal.

(more…)

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