Transportation Icons Call Bike Advocates “Unstoppable”

| 3/11/2011 8:44:49 AM

SKandBlumenauerWearing his signature bow tie and Velcro strap around his pant leg, Congressman Earl Blumenauer arced his arms over his head and brought his palms together as if beginning a yoga workshop, not a plenary address. Looking out at the more than 700 bicycle advocates gathered at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC, the Democrat from Oregon barely cracked a smile as he asked the crowd to repeat after him.

“How many people are stuck in traffic right now to ride a stationary bike in a health club?”

To the general public that might sounds like a daily annoyance. To the attendees of the National Bike Summit, it sounded sadly ridiculous.

Each year, the League of American Bicyclists orchestrates a convergence of hundreds of bike advocates from across the country. For three days we network with other grassroots leaders, learn about federal transportation issues and deliver our bike-partisan message directly to our members of Congress. Each year the circumstances and politics are different but the aim is the same: Pushing for a nation where riding a bicycle outside is so safe and so conducive to daily transportation that the notion of spinning aimlessly inside is nothing more than the punchline of an ironic joke.

To fire us up on Wednesday, the League went to their go-to guy. Second only to former Congressman Jim Oberstar, Blumenauer is the foremost voice for bicycling on Capital Hill. He set the tone for our Congressional visits by noting the historic moment. Never before has Congress been so hotly divided, Blumenauer said. Never before could you visit two adjacent offices, occupied by equally sincere and intelligent people, and encounter such wildly different worldviews. Luckily, he said, bicycling bridging the deep and wide philosophical divide.

“It’s something that speaks to every single item on the front page of our newspapers: Oil instability in the Middle East, health problems, congestion,” he said. “Everybody on a bike is somebody who is not in front of you in a car, competing for a parking space.”

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