earl blumenauer

Bike tax a big moment for cycling movement says Oregon Congressman Blumenauer

by on July 13th, 2017 at 12:56 pm

Congressional Reception-10

“It’s an acknowledgment of the power of the cycling community.”
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The face of bicycling in Oregon isn’t that mad about our state’s new, $15 tax on new bicycles.

U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who served six years in the Oregon House of Representatives and nearly 10 years as a Portland city commissioner, shared via a phone interview yesterday that he feels the tax is a “modest fee” that isn’t that big of a deal when viewed in the light of the overall infrastructure funding package.

I caught up with Blumenauer from his office in Washington D.C. where he’s standing against strong political winds.

“I think this is a really great opportunity for the cycling community to take a step back and think about the bigger picture,” he said.

Blumenauer probably knows more about the “bigger picture” than anyone in the bike advocacy game. He has fought for bicycle-related transportation funding for about 40 years. During that time he’s heard all the anti-bike arguments you can imagine.

“One of the arguments we hear repeatedly is that cyclists don’t have any skin in the game… so there’s been blowback.” Blumenauer thinks the “cyclists don’t pay” argument has only gotten louder as more money has gone to bike projects. During his tenure in politics, Blumenauer has seen Oregon implement the pioneering 1971 “Bicycle Bill” which sets aside 1 percent of all the state’s highway gas tax money for biking and walking infrastructure (which should equal about $3.7 million per year over ten years in the new bill. And federal programs like Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements, and TIGER grants have funded billions in bike infrastructure. “That’s big money,” he said.
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Blumenauer urges advocates to use cycling as tool to save America

by on March 7th, 2017 at 6:50 am

Congressman Earl Blumenauer at the Summit this morning.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

People who voted for Donald Trump in America’s rust belt (and other places) need to hear more about the role bicycles and cycling can play in the future of our country. And people who didn’t vote for Trump should see bike advocacy as a place to put their newfound energy for activism.

Those are two takeaways from a speech by Congressman Earl Blumenauer this morning at the 17th annual National Bike Summit this morning.

Blumenauer spoke about the “unprecedented levels of activism” seen in cities across America in January in response to Trump’s inauguration.

“Cycling,” he said, “Can be part of that menu where we try and give people something they can sink their teeth into. Something they can wrap their arms around that will make a difference in their community and will help shape and inform federal policy.”[Read more…]

Portland Congressman Earl Blumenauer introduces Vision Zero bill

by on March 1st, 2017 at 11:47 am

Chris King Gourmet Century-19

When it comes to road safety, Blumenauer (shown here riding in rural Washington County in 2013), has more skin in the game than most of his Capitol Hill colleagues.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer introduced a bill today to help cities across the country to move forward with Vision Zero policies, plans and projects.

“The real ‘American carnage’ is what’s happening on our roadways,” Blumenauer shared with us today via email. “Something has to change. We have to do better and finally treat this public health crisis. Cities around the country are embracing Vision Zero. The federal government should too.”

The “Vision Zero Act of 2017” was co-introduced with Representative Vern Buchanan, a Republican from Florida.

The bill is split into two sections: One to fund the creation of Vision Zero plans, and the other that would fund the implementation of those plans. $5 million would be set aside each year for the next five years (starting in 2018) for the planning grants and $25 million a year for the implementation grants, which could be split by up to five different entities (any political subdivision of a state is eligible, including; towns, cities, counties, and so on).

This bill is similar to one Blumenauer introduced in 2015. This version however, offers a more detailed list of potential plan elements and reads like a list of Vision Zero best practices. Among the suggestions in the bill are, “an examination of how development and implementation of safety-focused automotive technologies, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication can help eliminate transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries,” and “a focus on reducing speeds to the extent practicable within State law and separating modes of transportation.” The bill also specifically calls out the need for plans to, “equitably address the safety needs of low-income and minority communities and ensure that such communities are not disproportionately targeted by law enforcement.”
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In election aftermath, Blumenauer resolute on transportation agenda

by on November 16th, 2016 at 12:56 pm

Rep Earl Blumenauer at opening plenary-3

Blumenauer in 2012.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

As the Republican party takes over our federal government, U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer feels like all hope for his transportation and livability agenda is not lost. Reached via phone from his D.C. office yesterday Portland’s popular representative referred to the election results as “personally appalling” and “grim news for the presidency.”

But despite major losses for Democrats, Blumenauer, who won over 73 percent of the vote in Oregon’s 3rd congressional district on Tuesday, is optimistic about the future of “livable communities” — a set of issues and policies he’s built a legacy on during 20 years in office.

In an interview yesterday I asked Blumenauer for his thoughts on the election, whether he’ll work with the Trump administration on a new transportation funding bill, and more. The questions and answers below have been edited for clarity.
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Janette Sadik-Khan tours Portland with Congressman Earl Blumenauer (photos)

by on March 25th, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Janette Sadik-Khan tours Portland-3.jpg

Earl Blumenauer and Janette Sadik-Khan in Portland yesterday.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Former New York City transportation chief Janette Sadik-Khan has made the most of her few days in Portland this week. She’s done two official events (a talk at the Mission Theater we reported on Wednesday and an event at Powell’s Books yesterday) and two unofficial events (a media training with Portland Bureau of Transportation and Metro staff and at least one happy hour gathering).

Then on Thursday morning Sadik-Khan and her “Streetfight” co-author Seth Solomonow joined U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer and a handful of local advocates and transportation experts for a tour of Portland. [Read more…]

A congressman’s college class that has changed Portland forever

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on February 18th, 2016 at 3:56 pm

Congressman and former Transportation Commissioner Earl Blumenauer, left, with alumni of the city-sponsored Traffic and Transportation class.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The one-of-a-kind free transportation class funded by the Portland Bureau of Transportation is celebrating a quarter century of enlightened change.
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Rep. Blumenauer unveils ‘Bikeshare Transit Act’ to provide funding certainty

by on January 7th, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Blumenauer at the Summit-2

It’s transit, so let’s fund it as
such says Blumenauer.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Not wanting to be left out of massive bike news in his hometown, U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer has just released details on his latest legislative idea: the Bikeshare Transit Act. The legislation is meant to provide stability and “additional flexibility to use federal funds for bikeshare programs.”

Blumenauer wants to make it easier for bike share systems to operate past their initial start-up funding. In Portland’s case, we received a $2 million federal grant for bike share back in 2011. But that money was only enough to start planning. To actually put a system on the ground would take millions more — not to mention an annual operating and maintenance budget of $1.5 to $2 million. With cities under pressure to not spend any local money on bike share, that means they’ve had to hope and pray for big private sponsors. Portland spent years trying to court a suitor before inking their $10 million deal with Nike.
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A congressman, ice-cream, fruitcake, and 1,000 bikes for kids

by on November 24th, 2015 at 11:57 am

Fruitcake challenge at Community Cycling Center-2.jpg

Rep. Blumenauer at the Community Cycling Center this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Looking to make his famous holiday fruitcake last even longer, Portland’s representative in the United States Congress, Earl Blumenauer, has issued a citywide challenge: He wants Portlanders to help provide 1,000 bikes for kids in the month of December.
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Congressmen Blumenauer and Buchanan introduce $30 million ‘vision zero’ grant programs

by on March 10th, 2015 at 10:34 am

My ride with Earl Blumenauer-1.jpg

Blumenauer would like to be safer on the road.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

On the same week that the nation’s bike advocates roll onto Capitol Hill for the National Bike Summit, U.S. House Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) have introduced the Vision Zero Act of 2015 (H.R. 1274).

The bill would set aside grants worth $30 million for cities to plan and implement road safety projects.

In a statement, Blumenauer’s office said the bill is a recognition that “communities across the country are recognizing that there is only one number of acceptable deaths on our streets: zero.” The goal of the legislation is ambitious: “eliminating all transportation-related fatalities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, motorists and passengers.”

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Q&A: Earl Blumenauer is a little bit worried for the city he helped build

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on December 23rd, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Blumenauer interview-1

Congressman Earl Blumenauer: on the inside looking out — and hoping for a generation of advocates to pass the torch to.
(Photos: J.Maus and M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The biggest problem in Earl Blumenauer’s professional life will never be holding onto his job. There aren’t many safer gigs in the country.

Instead, Blumenauer’s challenge is how to make his job count. And one way he’s done so has nothing to do with Congress.

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