(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)
—BikePortland’s coverage from Washington D.C. is made possible by Planet Bike.
The stage has been set for Wednesday’s lobbying day on Capitol Hill. Each year on the second full day of the National Bike Summit, advocates from each state join together, march up to the Senate and House office buildings to talk bikes with their elected representatives. It’s the heart of the Summit and one of the most important things that happens here.
While Oregon’s advocacy all-star team is missing a few key members due to the snowstorm, there are still around 20 people that will lobby on our state’s behalf. On Wednesday, they’ll put on their best outfits and attend meetings at all seven of Oregon’s elected representatives including the offices of: Rep. Kurt Schrader, Rep. Greg Walden, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, Sen. Jeff Merkley, Rep. Peter DeFazio, and Sen. Ron Wyden.
At the state delegation meeting this evening, Caron Whitaker, the League’s VP of Government Relations, reviewed the three big national “asks” that advocates will be making on the Hill. There are three bills on the official ask this year. They include: House Resolution (HR) 3494/Senate Bill (S) 1708, The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act; HR 2468/S 2004- The Safe Streets Act; HR 3978- The New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Financing Act (a.k.a. New Opportunities).
The New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Financing Act would set aside $11 million (out of the FHWA’s $1 billion TIFIA loan program) for communities to build projects that will increase bicycling and walking access. The bill would trigger long-term, low-interest loans with 25% of the funds to be spent in low-income communities.
The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act is a bill that would mandate states to set traffic safety performance measures specifically for non-motorized road users. States already have to set these goals, but the federal safety program only takes motor vehicle collisions into account. The bill is needed because while motor vehicle fatalities are trending down, fatal collisions involving people on bikes and on foot are on the rise.
The Safe Streets Act is a “complete streets” bill. It would set guidelines for the design of road projects so that all users would be ensured safe access.
In addition to these asks, Oregon advocates will also bring their own, local projects and priorities into the conversation. A team leader has been chosen to lead each of the seven meetings. The leader will help focus the discussion and make sure the messages get across.
Stay tuned for reports from the Hill. To learn more about the official 2014 asks, see BikeLeague.org.