National bike leaders weigh in on tumultuous elections

National Bike Summit 2010 - Lobby Day-22

Where are we headed?
(Photos © J. Maus)

Given what happened last night, things are likely to fundamentally change for how bicycle advocates nationwide frame their arguments from here on out. But just what exactly does this all mean for bicycling? I asked leaders from several major bike advocacy groups what they thought and I think you’ll be scared, surprised, and inspired by what they said. From taking a cue from the Tea Party, to a frank assessment of what could be a bumpy bikeway ahead, read their reactions below…

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Who is new House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica?

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National Bike Summit - Day two-56

Rep. John Mica at a BikePAC fundraiser
during the 2009 National Bike Summit.
(Photo © J. Maus)

With Democrats no longer controlling the House, Representative John Mica (R-FL) will most likely replace Jim Oberstar as Chair of the all-important Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. But just who is John Mica? I look forward to reporting on and learning more about him in the coming months, but for now, we’ve got two clues.

First, a statement he just released via the official House website says in part,

“… Among my top legislative priorities will be passing a long-term federal highways and transit reauthorization, a long-overdue Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, a new water resources measure, and a long-term Coast Guard reauthorization.

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Safe Routes National Partnership reacts to Oberstar defeat

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National Bike Summit 07

Safe Routes National Partnership Director Deb Hubsmith
and Jim Oberstar in happier times.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Reacting to last night’s election results, the following statement to supporters and letter to Jim Oberstar will be sent out shortly from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership

November 3, 2010

Dear Safe Routes to School supporter,

As you have probably heard, Congressman James L. Oberstar (D-MN) lost his House seat in a close electoral race.

Rep. Oberstar initiated the federal Safe Routes to School pilot projects in the year 2000, and then authored the original Safe Routes to School legislation that created the national program in all 50 states. As Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, he had proposed strengthening Safe Routes to School in next surface transportation bill.

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“A rough night for TriMet riders”: Reactions to transit bond failure

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TriMet will have to look elsewhere
to fund new buses and other upgrades.
(Photo © J. Maus)

TriMet’s ballot measure did not pass last night. The measure sought to raise funds to replace aging buses, improve 300 bus stops, upgrade their LIFT fleet (which services elderly and others unable to use standard buses), and free up money in their general fund. The measure passed in Multnomah County 54-46, but couldn’t survive losses in Washington and Clackamas Counties where it was rejected by 56 and 60 percent of voters respectively.

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Oberstar’s defeat: Reactions, a look back, and a note of thanks

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Rep. Jim Oberstar visits Beach Elementary School -11

Oberstar, seen here during a recent visit
to Portland, helped craft and pass
the nation’s first Safe Routes to School
(Photos © J. Maus)

A big surprise from last night’s Democrat drubbing at the polls is that 35-year Congressman Jim Oberstar lost his race to Republican Chip Cravaack. Oberstar lost by just 4,000 votes out of 273,000 cast.

Oberstar’s loss means he will no longer be the Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, a position he has held since 2007. Rep. John Mica will assume leadership on that committee.

“No elected official has done more for bicycling than Jim Oberstar.”
— Tim Blumenthal, President of Bikes Belong

But beyond the immediate politics, Oberstar’s loss signals the end of an era for America’s bicycle movement. Oberstar was a titan of non-motorized transportation. The President of the League of American Bicyclists, Andy Clarke, said this morning that, “we lost a star player in yesterday’s elections.”

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Bike-friendly Dems would lose powerful positions in Republican controlled House

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Jim Oberstar (L) and Peter DeFazio,
(shown here at Cycle Oregon 2007)
would both lose key leadership
positions if the Republicans
take over the House.
(Photos © J. Maus)

A big issue at stake with tonight’s elections is how a Republican-controlled House of Representatives — a result many feel is foregone conclusion — would impact bicycling and active transportation programs, funding, and policies.

With that transfer of power, Republicans would also assume leadership of the all-important House Committees that set the rules of the game for everything from tax policy (Bike Commuter Benefit for instance) to infrastructure spending priorities.

At the center of what’s at stake for bicycling and active transportation are three men: John Boehner, Jim Oberstar, and Peter DeFazio.

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Metro president candidate Tom Hughes wants a bike registration fee

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“… I would like to see, even if it’s just a token registration fee, or some mechanism to go to the bicycle community, and say OK, you need to pay a share of the cost of providing those facilities
— Tom Hughes, candidate for Metro President

BikePortland reader and citizen activist Spencer Boomhower just brought to our attention that Metro president candidate Tom Hughes says he’d like to see a registration fee for bicycles in our region.

Hughes’ comment came during the Q & A session of a candidate forum at the Rose City Park Neighborhood Association on October 30th. Hughes was asked a question by Terry Parker (a somewhat infamous and prolific citizen activist known for his ‘bicyclists are freeloaders’ diatribes) who asked about tolls on the Columbia River Crossing project. Parker said the tolls were “being placed on the back of the motorists and it seems like the tolls ought to be spread out among all the users.” He then asked Hughes what he thought of tolling on the CRC project.

After Hughes explained why he’s “in favor of moving forward with the project as proposed,” he addressed Parker’s concern about the tolls and offered his desire for a bike registration fee:

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Bike parking will be at a premium for tomorrow’s Obama visit

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BTA Bike Commute Challenge Party-2

Temporary bike parking like this will
be used at the Convention Center tomorrow.
(Photos © J. Maus)

President Obama arrives in Portland tomorrow to stump for gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber at the Oregon Convention Center. The event starts at 5:00 p.m., at the peak of evening rush hour and in a part of town that is — thanks to streetcar and other construction projects — already quite traffic-snarled. The roads will be a complete mess.

Getting there by bike (or MAX) will be much easier; but if you go by bike, will there be a place to park?

Back in 2008, during the North American Handmade Bike Show, huge crowds quickly overflowed the Convention Center’s bike racks (and 500 indoor spaces that were made available especially for the show). When people started locking up to nearby railings, Convention Center security guards cut the locks and started impounding bikes.

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Kitzhaber to talk transportation at fundraiser in Portland tonight

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Sorry for the late notice…

Former Oregon Governor and current candidate for the office John Kitzhaber will be in Portland tonight at what’s being billed as a transportation-focused fundraiser. The event will be held at the World Trade Center in downtown Portland and hosts include architectural and transportation engineering firm David Evans and Associates, Clackamas County Chair Lynn Peterson, real estate developer John Russell, and others.

Suggested contribution is $150. Here’s the event flyer with more information: