Day 4: Climbing with bigwigs

Congressmen Jim Oberstar and Peter DeFazio on the climb.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

I got a late start this morning, but the timing turned out to be fortuitous.

At our lunch stop today at Steamboat Creek (I’m sure you’ve heard of it) I walked past the Bike Gallery service tent and guess who I saw? None other than U.S. Congressman James Oberstar. He was being fitted to a new Trek Madone by Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves.

As I waited for Oberstar to get rolling, I looked back and noticed U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio.

These two are like the 1-2 punch of bike power in the Halls of Congress. They are not only passionate advocates for making bicycles a respected part of America’s transportation system, but with Democrats in power, they control the fate of billions of dollars in federal transportation funds.

This was a rare opportunity to share some time in the saddle with them. Luckily the route started with a gradual climb, so the pace was slow and conversational. I chatted with DeFazio about some of the issues facing Portland. It’s always interesting to hear what someone like him knows (and doesn’t know) about what’s going on with bikes in our city. I’ve met DeFazio several times, but never had the chance to talk at length.

At camp tonight, both men addressed the crowd. Oberstar was like a “rock star” and riled up the crowd with a rousing speech. I snapped his photo with women under each arm and one guy even asked for his autograph. He implored everyone to become advocates for bikes.

I’d like to write more, but I need to catch the last shuttle back to camp.

More photos and stories to come tomorrow. For now, check out my Day 4 Photo Gallery over on Flickr.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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a.O
a.O
16 years ago

Yes, it\’s time to get political about bikes. Driving funds terrorists, causes global warming, and kills people. Cycling doesn\’t. And it helps keep you healthy. The choice is clear, my fellow Americans.

Joel H
Joel H
16 years ago

I snapped his photo with women under each arm

How did you hold the camera? πŸ™‚

JohnR
JohnR
16 years ago

Stiff opposition though. Unfortunately this is more the general consensus:

http://nwrepublican.blogspot.com/2007/09/mass-transit-separating-delusion-from.html

I know specifically he is discussing mass transit, but my point is more the \”car focused\” attitude, and the lack of concern for any other mode…

The majority of the population just seems to think you can\’t operate without a car.

Good to see some of the elected officials biking, but remember that while those two were biking a hundred other congress persons were probably sitting in traffic somewhere thinking about adding more lanes…

πŸ™‚

It is a steep climb, and not just in cycle oregon.

a.O
a.O
16 years ago

Three things:

1. Re \”stiff opposition\”: So? Nothing worthwhile is easy. Changing an entire society falls there. You ready for some heavy lifting?

2. The NW Republican blog message \”is the more general consensus\”: I don\’t know. Last time I checked, Republicans weren\’t the majority in Oregon, our Legislature, or in the US Congress. They\’re just loud. Also, 60% of Portlanders want to ride a bike but don\’t because the laws protecting vulnerable roadway users are not adequately enforced. Finally, the majority of Americans may feel a car is necessary, but they\’re not the leaders. The majority are against the war, but they still get that. They need to be shown how it can be done differently. That\’s our job.

3. It\’s not so difficult, in fact it\’s pretty easy, so show how stupid the argument is that transit has not eased congestion. Watch: If all those people on busses, the max, and bikes had to stop using those modes of transportation, would they walk instead? No, they\’d get in a car. So there would be more congestion. So Wendell Cox missed something really important and really basic. Or he\’s the delusional one. Either way, he\’s pretty obviously wrong.

Brad
Brad
16 years ago

Don\’t overestimate the power of bloggers on this issue. First off, political blogs tend to just represent the far fringe views on either side of the aisle. Regular conservatives and progressives largely just go about living their lives without the need to seek validation over the Internet. I\’d be willing to bet the typical NW Republican blog devotee is about 50, overweight, thinks he is in the top 2% of income, feels that comfort and luxury is a right, and hasn\’t had an original thought since Lars Larson began his radio show. They simply cannot comprehend a life that involves sacrifice or sweat although they do preach that working people need to do more of both.

A.O. is spot on in his assessment that the majority of folks are tired of D.C. politics, tired of funding terror via the gas pump, tired of fighting wars to keep Chevron profitable, and tired of gridlock.

JohnR
JohnR
16 years ago

Hey – why are you debating me? πŸ™‚

I was not saying that NW republican was the consensus. Just the basic message of that story – that funding of alternative transportation options is a waste of money…

I am out there in the trenches fighting the battle.

My whole point is that for every congress person who supports alternatives there are probably 5 who do not. That is all.

πŸ™‚

No arguments from me – I think the key is to have *options* rather than be STUCK with car only.

But hey – we are way off the topic of Cycle Oregon now, aren\’t we?

joeb
joeb
16 years ago

The Heritage Foundation is a good reference for what Not! to do. Good link. Anon on nwrepublican laid out a really thoughtful argument. The Heritage Foundation is a good reference for counterarguments that make sense… to THF’s embarrassment. Sorry, still off Cycle Oregon…

Karl Rohde
Karl Rohde
16 years ago

When I\’m speaking to Republicans, I usually tell them I\’m advocating for individual liberty by providing people the freedom to choose what form of transportation they take.

And when they bring up the fact that a relatively small percentage of people bike regularly, I ask them how many people would drive cars if it was unsafe and the roads didn\’t connect to anything.

It\’s an uphill battle, but you just have to shift into a lower gear and plod forward with a smile on your face.

a.O
a.O
16 years ago

\”When I\’m speaking to Republicans, I usually tell them I\’m advocating for individual liberty by providing people the freedom to choose what form of transportation they take.\”

Exactly. Progressives need to get way better about using the Republicans\’ rhetoric against them. It\’s actually quite easy because it\’s so obviously wrong.

Even the dullest among us know that gasoline comes from Saudi Arabia and that\’s where the evil \”9/11 hijackers\” came from. And so when we pay for gas, we pay Saudi Arabians, and they give money to other \”Islamic radicals\” who \”hate freedom\” and tried to kill \”us\” on 9/11. Therefore, paying for gasoline funds terrorism!

Can\’t drive without gas. Bicycles don\’t require gas. You can get around without funding terrorism. That\’s the kind of thing a patriotic \’merican ought to do. Hot damn, let\’s start ridin\’ bikes for Freedom.

Then perhaps our foreign policy would not be driven by securing the energy supplies necessary to continue running the economy that the ruling class profit from. Then perhaps we could get some sanity in foreign, and other, policy at the Federal level.

That should be the new slogan: \”Ridin\’ Bikes for Freedom.\”

What\’s the best way to achieve Victory in Iraq? Ride a Bike.

rixtir
rixtir
16 years ago

Gives a whole new meaning to \”freedom rides.\”

peder horner
16 years ago

I guess that\’s all good and well unless you ride a carbon fiber bike, since carbon fiber is a fancy plastic, and plastic is (usually) made from petroleum products. So, it could be extrapolated that _some_ cyclists are funding terrorists by their bike choice…

And, what about the plastic in your helmet? Styrofoam?

Sincerely,

The Devil\’s advocate

JohnR
JohnR
16 years ago

Still less plastic than there is in a car. πŸ˜‰

a.O
a.O
16 years ago

peder horner, that\’s just shameful. There is no comparison, in terms of amount, between the petroleum products that it takes to make bikes and the petroleum products it takes to make and operate all the automobiles in the United States. It\’s laughable that you even suggest it. You should really do some research before you post this stuff. Get a clue, man. You can\’t play devil\’s advocate without a meaningful grasp of the issue.

SKiDmark
SKiDmark
16 years ago

Cars have plastic bumpers, interior components, and even engine components. Ther is usually oil in the crankcase, unless it is synthetic, and gas or diesel in the tank. Anyone care to do the math for how many gallons of gas it take to go 12,000 miles in one years @20 mpg? Even the most whiz-bang carbon-fiber race bike with carbon-fiber components and rims would not have as much plastic as there is on a new car.

wsbob
wsbob
16 years ago

\”\”Ridin\’ Bikes for Freedom\” a.O

On a sticker perhaps with the red-white-blue flag background? Yeah, that\’s pretty good. I like imagining what motorists following a cyclist with a jersey or helmet sticker bearing that statement might be moved to think about.

mommy
mommy
16 years ago

skidmark – it\’s really complicated math there. 12,000 divided by 20. Ummmm… if you can\’t do that in your head, I\’m sending you back to 5th grade.

rixtir
rixtir
16 years ago

Nothin\’ but steel in my stable. πŸ˜‰

Of course, mining and smelting have environmental impacts as well, which brings us back to a.O.\’s point in post #13. That, and I only buy used steel frames…

SKiDmark
SKiDmark
16 years ago

dear mommy,
Sorry I was in a hurry and didn\’t feel like doing the math. I may need some help figuring out the geometry for the singlespeed 29er frame and fork that I want to build that will resemble a Schwinn \”newsboy\” style frame, you up to it?

mommy
mommy
16 years ago

Sorry if I came off as rude. I\’m pretty sure I can help with your geometry – what\’s the problem?

SKiDmark
SKiDmark
16 years ago

I won\’t need help til I get to all the included angles. I hate doing trig.

Matt Picio
16 years ago

As for oil, remember the US currently still produces 25% of the oil we burn. If everyone rode carbon fiber bikes rather than drove cars, oil use would be nearly low enough that we could support ourselves without any other oil, at least in the short-term.

The best parts of CO were the parts where we didn\’t have to share the road with cars. Not that I have anything against sharing the road, it was just nice to not have to hear automobile traffic nor smell gas and diesel fumes.

peder horner
16 years ago

a.O. It was a joke! Gotcha.

a.O
a.O
16 years ago

Yeah, you sure did.

I\’m so sensitive about this stuff these days because I see this tactic from the right-wingers every day: Distract from the real issue by making stuff up (e.g., maybe it\’s not caused by humans, transit doesn\’t reduce congestion, blah, blah, blah…)

If you could use the smiley face from now on…just kidding.