This story is part of my ongoing coverage of the 2008 National Bike Summit. See the rest of my coverage here.
This morning I joined Representative Earl Blumenauer on a short bike ride from his office on Capitol Hill to the opening session of the 2008 National Bike Summit, where he was the featured speaker.
As a bright, morning-after-the-storm sun shone brightly on our backs, Blumenauer and I rolled down the Hill, past the Capitol Building and onto a rain-slicked Pennsylvania Avenue.
Blumenauer, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, Budget Committee and Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, and the founder of the 170+ member strong Congressional Bike Caucus, is one of bicycling’s greatest allies in Congress.
We chatted comfortably, taking the entire right lane, and it was obvious that Blumenauer is a confident cyclist (at one point, a taxi cab veered across our lane to turn right and he didn’t even seem to notice). We traded stories of how on one hand, bicycling is on the verge of vast opportunity in Congress, and yet on the other hand, we still have a long road ahead before we get our fair share of funding.
After I told him about Oregon Senator Betsy Johnson’s unfortunate remarks about funding for bike facilities on the new I-5 bridge project, Blumenauer said we can’t let partisan politicians play politics with bicycle funding.
To help convince lawmakers of biking’s appeal, Blumenauer re-iterated what he said in Portland back in January — that we’ve got to build a “million people on bikes” type of movement in order to fully realize our potential on the national political landscape (and I’m happy to report that such an effort is well underway…stay tuned for more).
As we reached our destination, I half-expected Blumenauer to roll up to a secret door that led to his own private bike parking. Instead, he whipped out his U-lock, lifted the front wheel of his Trek Portland over a (nearly full) rack outside the building, and locked up his bike.
Our ride lasted just a few minutes, but getting a bit of one-on-one saddle time with such a key player on transportation politics — and nothing short of a hero to bike advocates nationwide — was a memorable treat.