U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer has never been to Interbike, so he used his first appearance to implore leading members of the U.S. bike industry to make more noise about the the economic boost the bike industry gives to America. In addition to dollars, Blumenauer told the crowd that selling bikes makes sense for many of our country’s greatest challenges. Here’s an excerpt from his remarks:
“This work you are doing is a convergence that is unique… I know of no other industry where all the elements come together — health care, energy, the economy, revitalizing our neighborhoods. I defy you to find any other industry that can do very well economically while also saving the planet. I’m hopeful that we are able to carry this message forward to ride the wave of a bicycle renaissance in America.”
Last night, Blumenauer was the guest of honor at a fundraising event hosted by BikesPAC, a political action committee run by Bikes Belong that lobbies on behalf of bicycling. Before making a few remarks to the crowd, I had the chance to chat with the Congressman. He said the bike industry is at “the intersection of all the things we care about.” Blumenauer was optimistic about the future of bicycling in America, saying that after 120 years we’re finally “on the verge” of once becoming a country that takes bikes seriously. “But,” he added as a cautionary note, “will it be in 15-20 months or 15-20 years?”
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During his address this morning, Blumenauer also took the opportunity to rally the troops. He shared that nationally, the bike industry is worth $6 billion and it employs over 1 million people. “And that six billion,” he said, “are expenditures that make the community stronger.” Blumenauer also reminded industry members that America is “deeply in trouble” because we use 1/10th of the world’s supply of petroleum just to get back and forth to work every day in cars with only one person inside them. “If every American between 10-65 years old biked or walked an hour a day we could reduce our consumption of petroleum by one-third and we wouldn’t be worried about morbidly obese 6th graders.”
Blumenauer ended by asking for help in healing the wounded relationships and stalled political process in Washington D.C. “Bikepartisanship is something that can bring people together. It doesn’t have to be part of this negative spiral. It can help not just the economy, but it can also heal the country.”
Blumenauer’s presence is not only a sign that the bicycle industry’s advocacy efforts have matured greatly in the past decade, it’s also a sign that he needs the industry’s help and support on Capitol Hill.