Bicyclists Lose Major Champion in Midterm Election

| 11/7/2010 4:16:10 PM

OberstarWe weren’t naïve.

Like everyone else in Washington, D.C., bicycle and pedestrian advocates expected a Republican surge in last week’s midterm elections. We knew a conservative Congress would have major implications for the next federal transportation bill. We were bracing ourselves for new faces and fresh challenges on Capitol Hill.

But nobody expected we’d lose one of our most dependable and powerful champions.

“I’m not going to lie,” Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists wrote on Wednesday morning. “I’m depressed.”

If you don’t live in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District or follow federal transportation policy, you probably don’t even know the name James Oberstar. He was elected to Congress in 1974, and, since his very first term, served on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

For bike-ped advocates, those committee members are critical and, for three decades, Oberstar pushed to get bicyclists and pedestrians recognized and treated as “intended users” of our public roads. In the last wave election in 2006, when Democrats took control of the House, Oberstar was elected chairman of the transportation committee. A few months after he claimed leadership, he told a crowd at the National Bike Summit: “We're going to convert America from the hydrocarbon economy to the carbohydrate economy.”

11/9/2010 7:17:51 AM

You have much to learn about freedom. Oberstar is gone because he forced Obamacare on us - which is the antithesis of freedom. Perhaps if he stuck to biking and kept his hands out of our pockets and stayed away from further destruction of our health care at the hands of government, he'd still be in office.

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