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After day of lobbying, Blumenauer notes bike movement’s growing strength

Posted by on March 23rd, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Blumenauer at reception-2

Congressman Blumenauer addresses a room full of bike advocates at the Dirksen Senate office building.

After a full day that featured hundreds of face-to-face meetings between bike advocates and members of Congress (and their staff), attendees at the National Bike Summit came together in a Senate office building ballroom last night to share stories and toast their efforts.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer — who, in the absence of former Minnesota House representative Jim Oberstar has emerged as cycling’s leader on Capitol Hill — addressed the crowd and explained how the bike movement has grown and matured to a point where our presence in D.C. each year truly “makes a difference.”

“We can tell when you’re in town. It is electric,” Blumenauer shared, “I can’t tell you how many people in the House came up to me yesterday and said, ‘Your people are here.'”

Congressional Reception-6

The crowd of advocates at the Congressional Reception party.

Blumenauer then shared a story. Yesterday, one of his House colleagues (whom he didn’t name, but said it was someone “who I would not think is the most sympathetic member of the House [to biking]”) ran into him in the House locker room. “The cyclists are coming,” the House rep said to Blumenauer, and then asked, “Do you have any bike pins in your locker?”

Congressional Reception-10

“I did [have some bike pins,” Blumenauer continued, “And then I watched as he pinned it on his lapel as he returned to his office to meet with some of you.”

The way Blumenauer sees it, this interaction happened because the bicycling message — and its messengers — are gaining in strength:

“Your passion, your vision, your commitment… It’s making a huge difference at a time when, shall we say, Congress doesn’t look its most functional. When you may have noticed a few people are, cranky; but you’ve got a message of the most efficient form of urban transportation ever designed. You have a message of burning calories instead of fossil fuels, and a broad agenda that encompasses not just people who cycle, but people who walk and people who deal with trails and mountain biking, and a new version of tourism, and economic development… It is a broad, comprehensive agenda. People are starting to understand what you are about.

I could not be more excited with how this feels and I will tell you that your presence here is going to make a difference in this session of Congress, exactly the way your efforts helped kill that goofy [House] bill.”

From Blumenauer’s perspective, America’s bike advocates are getting better, more organized, and, “More focused about what they want, making deeper and deeper inroads into the fabric of what governs their communities.”

Planet Bike is the official sponsor of our Bike Summit coverage.

Given the strengthening of our movement, it’s clear that Blumenauer wants to use it to achieve real political change. He’s hopeful that a strong showing for Democrats in November will set him up to leverage this advocacy power.

“Together, we’re going to drag across the finish line at some point, a real transportation bill that’ll take us to the next step and we’re going to make your agenda part of the platform of every thoughtful public official in America.”


Here are a few more images from the Congressional Reception…

Congressional Reception-1

Hard earned drinks and smiles.
L to R: Randy Neufeld, SRAM Cycling Fund; Anna Laxague, IMBA; Tom Archer, Northwest Trail Alliance; Gerik Kransky, BTA.

Congressional Reception-9

James Koski, longtime Deputy Chief of Staff for Earl Blumenauer looks on as League President Andy Clarke thanked him for his work on bicycling issues (he’s moving to Texas and will no longer work for the Congressman).

Congressional Reception-8

Blumenauer’s Legislative Aide and transportation policy expert Tyler Frisbee snaps a photo of her boss in action.

Congressional Reception-5

Advocates Paul Thomasberg (L) with the Central Oregon Trail Alliance and Mike Ripley with Mudslinger Events brought the very important issue of mountain bike access and its relation to economic development to D.C.

Congressional Reception-3

Adventure Cycling Executive Director Jim Sayer and League of American Bicyclists membership and events coordinator Katie Omberg.

— BikePortland’s coverage of the 2012 National Bike Summit is brought to you by Planet Bike.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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ME FitzKenjiChrisCurtWill Radik Recent comment authors
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Will Radik
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Nice! Keep up the good work, you guys!

Curt
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Curt

Yes, thanks Jonathan for your coverage of this weeks events in DC. Great work!

Kenji
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Kenji

Lots of people in DC noticed- not just lawmakers. People that we ran into the street were asking about the bike pins saying that they had seen lots of them. I even randomly bumped into the Lt. Gov. of Kentucky and he said hey- you’re with the bike summit right? That was pretty nice to hear.

Chris
Guest

Seems like a lot of buzz was created out there. Thanks for keeping all us left coasters in the loop! You rock Maus!

Kenji
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Kenji

Maus not only rocks- he’s a good dancer too.

ME Fitz
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ME Fitz

Thanks for the coverage Jonathan!
I would like to know if People for Bikes and Bikes Belong is having much impact.
Did I hear somewhere that several national bike advocacy groups were working together more formally? LAB, IMBA, Bikes Belong & People for Bikes….