Report from the National Bike Summit

Report from the Bicycle Summit

Nearly 100 Californians went to Washington for this year's  National Bike Summit. This is a quick summary of what we  learned and  did, from the opening reception on Tuesday night to the Congressional  Bike Ride Friday morning.

Thursday we met with the staff of 27 Representatives and two  Senators. Tyler Rushforth of Senator Boxer's staff talked about the many late  hours  spent to hammer out the bipartisan transportation bill, aka Moving Ahead  for Progress in the 21st  Century. MAP-21 consolidates programs and  preserves flexibility, keeps funding for bicycling and walking but with reduced  protections, and guarantees local access to funding. America Bikes  supports  it. As Tyler said, “the Senate did its homework.” A bike shop owner in our  delegation told Tyler that all their hard work was appreciated by the  young man  back home who now has a job in his shop thanks to the growth of bicycling in  his community.

Whereas Boxer was committed to a bipartisan approach, the  leadership in the House proposed a narrower approach with its bill, HR 7.  Speaker  Boehner tried to get the Tea Party to accept more spending than it  wanted in exchange for spending all the money on highways. That cost him the  moderates, some of whom voted for the Petri-Johnson amendment to protect  bicycling and walking. While it lost narrowly, 29-27, it was a clear  demonstration that bicycling and walking has some Republican support. With the  failure of HR 7, the House leadership is now proposing a 3-month  extension of  the current bill, although they  ought to use  the Senate bill as the  starting point, introduced in the House as HR 14.

What this means for Californians is that our Republican  delegation to Congress is critically important for the future of bicycling in  the U.S. While we met  mostly with Democrats on the Hill on Thursday, our  priority in the next few weeks and months is to meet with Republicans in their  districts.

Wednesday at the summit we learned about best practices in  advocacy, and prepared for our meetings on the Hill the next day. Tuesday  afternoon,  prior to the summit's Opening Reception, we met with other selected  leaders of statewide bicycle advocacy organizations to discuss some state-level  strategies for preserving funding for bicycling and walking. We talked about  our  work  in California to guarantee that whatever happens in Washington,  the  state's spending priorities will continue to include bicycling and walking in  at least  the same proportions as today.  Aware of this work, James  Oberstar told his colleagues, “every state ought to  do like California is doing.”