Having attended the last eight National Bike Summits in Washington DC, I have to say there is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for bicycling in the new administration, especially through the Livable Communities agenda. This was the largest National Bike Summit since its inception in 2000, with 550 attendees representing 45 states. Oregon had one of the largest delegations, with 25 participants.
Here are some of my personal highlights of this year’s summit:
1) Listening to our new Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood who talked about understanding the need for bicycles to be included in the new transportation bill. Also he specifically mentioned Congressman Blumenauer from Portland and his Livable Communities message. Very exciting stuff after many years of hard work on Capitol Hill.
2) Hearing Congressman Oberstar from MN talk about making bicycles a legal form of transportation across the country. Attorney Ray Thomas from Portland is helping him with the language. By the way, Congressman Oberstar is the Chair of the House Transportation Committee. A few years ago I didn’t really understand what all that meant but let me tell you… It’s a big deal! The chair of this committee sets a lot of the transportation policy in this country and Oberstar happens to be a huge fan of bicycles.
3) The Bikes PAC (Political Action Committee) reception with Bikes Belong (the national bike advocacy organization) and about 50 advocates from around the country. The reception was attended by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), Rep. John Mica (R-FL). It’s great to hear politicians from around the country and from both sides of the aisle talk in a positive way about their bicycling experiences.
4) Copenhagen’s Bicycle Program manager, Andreas Rohl, was our keynote speaker and provided an overview of the successes and challenges (and notable numbers) resulting from their efforts. One of the best numbers mentioned: in Copenhagen, for every mile you ride a bike there is a dollar saved in health care costs. A pretty amazing statistic that should help us get our message that bicycling is good out to a whole new affinity group.
5) Learning about the federal legislation (Complete Streets, CLEAN-TEA, Safe Routes) that will help Portland become even more bike-friendly.
6) Working together and being successful with the Oregon delegation as we walked miles and miles around the Capitol visiting with our representatives. I am very proud of what Portland and Oregon have accomplished.
Some of the more notable attendees from Oregon this year were: David Bragdon and Rex Burkholder from Metro; Meeky Blizzard from Blumenauer’s local office; Scott Bricker and Karl Rohde from the BTA; Jerry Norquist from Cycle Oregon; Roger Geller from PBOT; and Tom Miller from Mayor Adams’ office. There were also a few folks from Travel Oregon/Portland joining us as well as many other advocates.
For much more in depth information about the National Bike Summit I encourage you to check out Jonathan Maus’ coverage on BikePortland.org. He did an outstanding job of covering all the excitement. Here is a link to Jonathan’s report of the Copenhagen presentation.
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