Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Bikes poised for big political push

Posted by on November 9th, 2006 at 11:54 am

National Bike Summit

[Congressmen DeFazio
with some random guy
at the 2005 National Bike
Summit in Washington DC]

According to the League of American Bicyclists, the composition of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is set to take a decidedly bike-friendly turn after Tuesday’s elections.

Likely to be chairman of this committee is the current ranking Democrat, Congressman Jim Oberstar from Minnesota. Oberstar is considered by many to be Washington’s #1 man for bikes.

At last year’s National Bike Summit in Washington DC, he shared a rousing and inspiring speech about the importance of encouraging more kids to drive bikes to school. He told a packed room of bike advocates from across the country that we,

[Oberstar at the ’05
National Bike Summit]

“have the chance to change the habits of an entire generation…it’s now in your hands.”

I also recall a story he told about visiting a new school and then calling out the school’s leadership for putting the bike racks in the back of the building. I remember him saying emphatically, “They should be right in the front!”

Also in pole positions on the D.C. transportation politics scene are Oregon’s top cycling advocates, Congressmen Peter DeFazio and Portland’s very own Earl Blumenauer. Both DeFazio and Blumenauer are very enlightened as to the increased role that bicycles need to play in our country’s transportation mix and to have them in leadership roles is a huge boon for bikes.

[Earl and the Oregon Delegation at the National Bike Summit]

The ’07 National Bike Summit is just on the horizon and there’s no doubt it will be a tremendous year for the event. So, who wants to join me this year?!

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20 Comments
  • pdxMark November 9, 2006 at 12:43 pm

    That’s great, but how about correcting a few Oregon laws now that Karen Minnis is a back-bencher? Let’s corect the definition of a brake and have Idaho’s stop sign law for bikes to start. What else would we all like?

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  • Evan Manvel, BTA November 9, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    Bike law reforms haven’t been held up along partisan lines — we passed laws last session allowing passing on the right and leaving bike lanes (that got two cyclists out of their recent tickets).

    And Sen. Jason Atkinson, who has pledged to change the fixie law, is a Republican.

    We’re meeting with the new leadership and talking to them about which bills they’d support. We’re hoping for a solid session.

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  • Austin November 9, 2006 at 4:05 pm

    As a native Minnesotan, I feel a surge of Nordic pride when I hear of the great bike work Jim Oberstar has been doing in DC.

    Jim has been representing my home district for some thirty years – since I was a just a kid – and is probably personally responsible for my zealous helmet use ever since.

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  • Tom Knipe November 9, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    Mark:
    That’s great, but? Brake requirements on fixed-gear bikes is a narrow issue that effects a very narrow segment of the population that is already cycling. And how does lifting the requirement that bikes stop at stop signs get more people on bikes and make our community a better place to live?

    The focus should be on increasing funding for programs that improve access for all kinds of people to choose bikes as transportation.

    Exciting that there may be new energy coming from the congressional bike caucus. Your offer is enticing Jonathan…

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  • pdxMark November 9, 2006 at 5:22 pm

    Tom:

    The current definition of a brake is archaic and technically flawed. Whether fixies have brake calipers or not, I’m not certain that many bikes sold today without coaster brakes could skid the rear wheel on dry pavement. If most bikes being sold don’t fit the law, then maybe the law needs to be “fixed.” As the law is currently written, anyone who can’t skid their rear wheel is in as much violation as a caliper-less fixie. With strident enforcement of a defective law, it is something to be resolved.

    As for stop signs, it’s law change that nearly passed a session or two ago. It matters because it affects the efficiency of commuting, which directly affects the usefulness of cycling for new and experienced riders. Forcing a full and complete stop on a bike at every stop sign greatly increases the effort of riding a bike. If you want people to ride bikes, make it easier by not making them stop when there is no traffic reason to do so.

    Funding programs is great, but the state’s financial resources did not change last Tuesday night. NOt by a single cent. Funding for bicycle programs must compete against school funding, healthcare funding, state police funding, etc. There might be more funding for bicycle programs, but there’s nothing wrong with cleaning the legal house of archaic, useless statutes that make riding a bike more burdensome or legally ambiguous than it needs to be.

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  • paul November 9, 2006 at 6:23 pm

    I agree with Tom. I am just a guilty as other hardcore bicyclists in wanting my little pet peeve fixed. We need to find ways to get 20% (as a start) of the car commuters out of cars and onto bikes.
    If that happens the brake and stop issue will be resolved in a big hurry.

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  • Marthea Wilson November 10, 2006 at 9:03 am

    It is great that Oberstar is likely chair of transportation committee. It’s important to remember that bikes are bi-partisan issue and we need bi-partisan support to continue to be successful.

    Former congressman mark foley was the co-sponsor of the bike commuter act, and we’ll need to find an R to help take the lead. Know any Republicans who’d co-sponsor this along with Congressman Blumenauer?

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  • Evan Manvel, BTA November 10, 2006 at 10:18 am

    Rep. Blumenauer had several Republican co-sponsors for the Bike Commute Act — and Sen. Wyden has four Republicans, including Sen. Enzi from Wyoming, co-sponsoring the Senate companion bill. We now have ten folks in the Senate, and momentum to move it forward in the House. If Senator Smith could get on board, we’d continue our progress forward!

    We’ll be in DC to lobby during the Bike Summit, and hopefully get Rep. Walden to co-sponsor as well…

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  • Dabby November 10, 2006 at 6:01 pm

    Tom,
    I understand that you may think that problems with a braking ordinance, and yield laws may seem petty and not worth spending legislative energy on.
    But this is where you are entirely wrong.
    These are the actual problems we are having with bicycling here in Portland and in Oregon in general.
    We have funding. This is proven many times over.
    Plans to make more silly bike lanes. More bike lanes means more control over the cycling commmunity, and herding us into unsafe places to ride. Places where the ploice believe are the only legal places to ride, if present on the route.
    Plans to develop 3.5 million dollar, 7 mile bike boulevards, that we don’t need.
    Plans to use our tax dollars to bring big, probably overseas-made bike companies to town.
    These are not things we should be giving much of a rat’s ass about at his point. That money is there. It is going to be spent, although uselessly, no matter what.
    But these gross mis-interpretations of bike law, and the abuse of authority by the Portland Police, means that “these braking and yield laws” are exactly the problems we need to fix.
    Declassification of bicycles as motorized vehicles.
    Actual drafting and passing of Bicycle laws, related to bicycles only, not 4,000 pound fossil fuel suckers( yes I drive cars sometimes too, but a fact is a fact), that are ruining our will to live slowly but surely by depleting many resources, and, very appparent this year, in the process of thinning out the bicycle ranks through death and destruction.
    We do not need more funding to get more cyclists.
    We already have too many.
    This city cannot even take care of, or respect the cyclists we have, let alone regularly adding many more to the mix.
    So, maybe think about it a little more before you poo poo changes that will actually make a big difference to all cyclists, and I do mean all.

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  • Dabby November 10, 2006 at 6:04 pm

    By the way, Martha,
    Republicans?
    Don’t we have them creating enough problems in this world?

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  • Dan Kaufman November 11, 2006 at 9:25 pm

    Sign me up, JM!

    PS – IF Bush (an avid MTBiker) is willing to pay more than lip service to promoting energy independence then we might just see White House support for new cycling infrastructure, eg a National Bikeway System. Let’s push hard in ’07-’08 for federal support.

    http://www.pdxk.com/crankmychain/2006/11/now-is-time-for-progessive-cyclists-to.html

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  • SKiDmark November 11, 2006 at 10:38 pm

    Bike lanes are not always unsafe. I like having my own lane when cars are pissing by me at 45mph like on TV Highway. I have only been right turned(cut off) on TV Hwy after the bike lane ends. The bike lanes that are ABSOLUTELY UNSAFE are the ones where there are cars parallel-paarked against the curb, then a bike lane, and then a traffic lane, Broadway being particularly deadly. Sometime I prefer a bike path because sometimes I don’t want to deal with cars at all. I am guessing that might be why you dig mountain bikes,Dabby.

    I definitely agree with you that bicycles need to be classified as bicycles and not be lumped in with cars and motorcycles. For that matter the whole ORS needs to be rewritten, with everything subdivided into categories like traffic laws and vehicle equipment, and also subdivided into car, motorcycle, and bicycle. As it is now everything is lumped together. I found this out because I basically read the whole ORS just to find out what I parts I need to have on my Triumph chopper and what I can take off.

    How about more money to investigate hit and runs?

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  • Dabby November 12, 2006 at 3:29 pm

    Avid?
    I question Bush being a mt biker at all( though I have seen the little bicycle press footage….)
    Let alone an avid Mt. Biker.
    Maybe when there is a camera pointed at him….
    Bush should have been impeached last year..
    It is a bad I dea even to bring his name up….
    Leaves a bad taste in my mouth….

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  • Cate November 12, 2006 at 4:11 pm

    Wow, this is my day for telling people to think beyond. 🙂

    Dabby, read Hangin’ With Potus from Bicycling Magazine:

    http://www.bicycling.com/article/0,6610,s1-3-12-13394-1,00.html

    You may not like it, but Bush can ride and has done some good things for bicycling.

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  • Dan Kaufman November 12, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    Not bringing his name up won’t change the fact that he is still President and holds veto power over legislation that matters to cyclists.

    If we can get a national bikeway system built I could frankly care less if they put his GD name on it.

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  • Dabby November 13, 2006 at 12:23 am

    If you have done enough bad, it will never be outweighed by the good.
    Bush has ruined alot of peoples lives, and gotten alot of young and old americans killed overseas and here in america. Not to mention the slaughter of Iraq’es.
    I don’t give a rat’s ass if he is president, he is an asshole.
    He is only President because of others ignorance during the past two elections.
    But he is not my president.
    Never will be.
    I have read the article in Bicycling, and I took it with a grain of salt, as it is quite unbelievable to me that he is really that into cycling. And, it really wouldn’t change the way I feel about him anyway.
    If I saw a bikeway sign with his name on it, I would desire to go out of my way to spit on it, much like I want to, but don’t, destroy the statue of the vicous Vera Katz…..
    I know this is tough to hear, but, if you don’t realize what an idiot and bad thing for America the Bush regime is, you desperately need a wake up call.
    Or maybe dream land is right where you want to be.
    And Cate, on the note of thinking beyond, if you really knew me, you would realize that that is basically how I think.
    Outside the box. In fact, I believe we need to redesign and rebuild the box itself, entirely
    I tell it like it “IS”, instead of being a lowly sheep, grazing in the field.
    I am sorry that you do not want to hear this.

    On a final note.
    No amount of “bicycle funding”, and “what he has done for cycling in america” can repair, or justify, 9 tenths of what has happened since he has held office.
    If I saw him on a bike, I would check him “polo style” into a ditch , seeing as I am certainly faster than him, or his “secret” service..
    I have had the joy of flipping him the bird.
    Was a great day…..

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  • Dabby November 13, 2006 at 12:27 am

    And,
    I don’t need a explanation of how I would never get close enough to check him.
    I know this…..
    It is hypothetical.

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  • Jonathan Maus November 13, 2006 at 8:49 am

    My beef with Bush and bikes is that he sees them purely as recreation and has no concept (or willingness to accept) that they can replace motor vehicles as viable modes of transportation.

    There’s a big disconnect between appreciating mountain biking and having compassion for the needs of commuters.

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  • Dan Kaufman November 13, 2006 at 10:19 am

    My predictions for the next two years in DC:
    1) Bush will remain the President of the USA
    2) “Energy Independence” appropriation and/or legislation will be passed.

    Don’t be surprised if Cheney uses that opportunity to push nuclear, coal, and hybrid cars, which keeps energy production out of the hands of most citizens.

    But we can use OUR influence to push for clean energy and conservation. Cycling is a no-brainer, there, because it’s the most efficient means of commuter transportation and the infrastructure costs are comparatively low.

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  • tonyt November 13, 2006 at 10:54 am

    Ahh to shoulder check GW into a ditch. What a delicious fantasy.

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