With the lobby day in full swing here on Capitol Hill, bike advocates from around the country are asking their representatives in Congress to support a variety of pending bike-related legislation. Last night, while looking through some information on these bills put together for us by the League, I was shocked at how partisan all the bills have become.
But this year, things have become anything but bike-partisan.
Before the lobbying began today, there were 227 total co-sponsors of six different bills. Of those 227, all but nine are Democrats. There are only six Republicans members of Congress currently signed on as co-sponsors of all the major pending bike legislation in America. Here’s how it shakes out:
- The two Complete Streets bills (H.R. 1443, and S. 584) have 66 co-sponsors between them and not one of them is a Republican.
- The newly launched Active Community Transportation Act has six co-sponsors — all of them are Democrats.
- The Safe Routes to School bill (S. 1156) has 21 co-sponsors, all but four are Democrats.
- The Safe Routes to High Schools Act (H.R. 4021) has 21 co-sponsors; only two are Republican.
- The Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act (H.R. 3734) has 104 co-sponsors; 102 are Democrats and only two are Republican.
- The Land and Water Reauthorization and Funding Act (S. 2724) has nine co-sponsors. None of them are Republican.
Even Oregon is not immune.
League of American Bicyclists executive director Andy Clarke says the partisan politics around biking “has gotten worse.” It’s gotten so bad, Clarke told me this morning, that “We’re at a point where we might have to start introducing two separate bills, one Republican can support, and one a Democrat can support.”
Bike bills are not immune to the partisan politics permeating the Hill these days, and Clarke says, “We’ve just got to play within the system… It’s not that they’re opposed to what we’re talking about, but it’s the party line.”
Even in Oregon, there’s one glaring example of this partisanship. House Representative Greg Walden, a Republican, is the only member of Congress from Oregon who is not currently signed on to any bills on the Bike Summit agenda.
Hopefully, with over 700 advocates armed for battle on the Hill today, we’ll see that line start to change, but that’s a tall order in a town where political alliances between Democrats and Republicans are cooler than the mounds of snow still piled up outside their offices.