Power and influence are wielded mightily on Capitol Hill, and if bicycling and its benefits to society are a woven thread in Washington DC, there’s no better friend than the federal government to promote bicycling’s benefits. A unified voice gets heard, and action is taken.
What does this mean for American bicyclists?
The recent National Bike Summit in Washington brought 500 advocates together as a unified voice to lobby the decision makers. Having 193 friends on Capitol Hill makes it much easier.
A bi-partisan Congressional Bike Caucus (CBC) was formed in 2001 in Washington DC to bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans on pressing issues related to bicycling for all Americans. Capitol Hill is much more aware of the country's pressing needs, and bicycling is no longer ignored, but viewed as a solution.
Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D) established CBC to make bicycling's voice heard on Capitol Hill. As of February 12, 177 House members and 16 Senate members work across the aisle to advance three objectives: promote federal policies that encourage cycling as a valid mode of transportation; improve cycling opportunities for people who commute to Capitol Hill; and organize informal recreational rides for Members and staff. The CBC is co-chaired by Rep. Tom Petri (R – WI) and Senator Richard Durbin (D – IL).
According to Rep. Blumenauer's website, the CBC was conceived as an informal, bipartisan group whose primary goal would be to provide a place for cycling members of Congress and their staffs to have fun. Whatever the technical solutions proposed, their implementation in livable communities requires a process in which grassroots involvement helps create and validate partnerships comprised of civic and business organizations, state, local and federal governments.
"Cycling, as a mode of transportation requires no fossil fuels, has no impact on air quality, creates less wear and tear on roads, and is more affordable than automated vehicles," Blumenauer said. "It's in the national interest to promote low-cost, low-impact transportation modes which decrease our reliance on imported fossil fuels.
"It's also in the national interest to insure that our national infrastructure provides safe, appropriate transportation options for all citizens," he added.
Click here to see who’s on the CBC.