It’s a sad morning for cyclists all over the United States this morning as a result of the voters’ choice in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional district (MN-8), which covers much of northern Minnesota and the Iron Range. Long-time Congressman Jim Oberstar was defeated in his re-election bid last night, ending his Congressional career after 18 terms in office.
Oberstar is the ranking member of the House Transportation Committee, and current chair – although that would have changed in a new Congress, even had he been re-elected. More importantly, he’s the elder statesman of bicycle issues in Congress. While in the past 20 years the Congressional Bicycle Caucus has grown and there are other notable cycling advocates in both Congress and on the Transportation Committee, he’s been the respected leader.
With the transportation bill in flux, as well as the study of the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program – a key Oberstar project – ongoing, this is going to be very disruptive. Meanwhile, cycling remains an easily-attacked place to attack infrastructure funding, as can be seen in how AAA is suggesting the Highway Trust Fund should only be used for asphalt highway projects.
The LAB’s executive director has posted a good summary of why the loss of Oberstar hurts so much.
Thanks, Jim, for years of service, and I hope there’s a way you can keep contributing to the health of non-motorized transportation in Minnesota and nationally.