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.”