Ride Boldly!

Bikes, bicycling, and road safety.

National Bike Summit Opening Session


League of American Bicyclists Director Andy Clarke kicked off the proceedings bright and early at 8 AM, clearly freshly caffeinated and excited by having over 700 bicycle advocates and friends of the cycling movement in the house at the Ronald Reagan Building/ITC in Washington DC. He handed it over fairly quickly to Congressman Blumenauer. The Congressman stressed the great strides the bike/pedestrian movement has made in the last 10 years, but also stressed that the need for ongoing involvement and more involved people remains great.

A few highlights from the Congressman from Oregon:

  • He presented the plans for bike lane striping on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC, linking the Capitol and White House.
  • He touted the introduction of HR4722, the Active Community Transportation Act (or ACT Act!).
  • Discussed HR4021, an extension of Safe Routes to Schools that expands funding to high schoolers.
  • Discussed HR3271 Green Routes to Work, and stressed that part of building a bicycle- and transit-friendly America is providing citizens with choices as to how they travel to and from their everyday destinations.

A key message is that we aren’t anti-car, but that much of the funding and legislation has tilted the playing field in favor of the car – even though 30% of all car trips are less than 1 mile! Most people say they would bike or walk more if they felt it was safe or that facilities were available to make it possible (like sidewalks in subdivisions).

Governor Jack Markell of Delaware was next up. Among his campaign events was a bicycle ride across Delaware. He’s especially proud that DE went from 31st most friendly state for cyclists to 9th in only a year. One of the components of that was the passage of a Complete Streets bill to encourage developers, landowners, cities, counties and the state to work together to plan communities and roadways to accommodate all users.

He also discussed the teen labor that work in Delaware beach towns over the summer – many from Europe – and the unique safety issues they’ve presented, and how the state has addressed those issues with education.

He capped his part of the presentation with a top 10 list about riding in Delaware:

  1. You can brag to friends about riding across the state in a morning.

  2. Hills – they’re nice, but they block the view. No issues with that in Delaware!
  3. It’s fun to drop the Governor on rides.
  4. Scrapple.
  5. Punkin Chunkin.
  6. It’s easy to outpace chickens on the roadside.
  7. All their transit buses have bicycle racks.
  8. Politics end on bikes (although he says Republicans have nicer bikes).
  9. You can ride through lots of spray irrigation systems on hot days.
  10. On windy days, you can draft behind fancy Washington DC lawyers on Route 1.

Peter Rogoff, of the Federal Transit Administration, spoke next.

He talked about how policies and programs have to address the new reality. People want choices as to how they get around. Transit use boomed when gas went up to $4/gallon, and has stayed high even as prices have dropped. Many families have dealt with the recession by downsizing – getting rid of a car and going with only one, or no, car.

Cycling and transit, together, create a powerful combination for many families. They need to work together seamlessly and be a credible option.

Thanks to the Recovery Act, transit spending rose 84% in a single year. This has really helped given that many communities have had funding struggles for transit due to the recession’s impact on property tax revenues and other tax streams.

Administrator Rogoff stressed several things:

  • The potential role of bicycles in the First Lady’s campaign against childhood obesity – if kids can ride, they won’t get fat.
  • The need to continue investing even though revenues are tight – transit makes jobs reachable, transit creates jobs.
  • Bicycles and multi-modal options need to be built-in.

The morning session ended with the Googlers presenting the new Google Maps for Bicycles options, covered separately.

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Author: julie

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005. She is a past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association. She has 2 children and 4 bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations.

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