River City Bicycles sent Chris DiStefano (Marketing & Public Affairs) to Washington, D.C. last week as part of the Oregon delegation for the National Bike Summit. The 2017 event does not have the focus of a major transportation bill and the lobbying efforts to support it as the plan of the current administration is not yet known. Delegates attended instead to maintain the relationships they have with the congressional representatives and to discuss specific statewide issues. The League of American Bicyclists asked each delegation to take these questions to Capitol Hill:
- “Will you support multi-modal transportation, including bicycling and walking, in any transportation package in front of Congress this year?”
- For the House of Representatives: “Will you co-sponsor the Vision Zero Act of 2017“ Introduced earlier this month by Representative Earl Blumenauer (3rd District of Oregon)
The Oregon Delegation for Lobby Day consisted of:
Kate Walker (Portland, OR – The Street Trust), Steph Noll (Portland, OR – The Street Trust), Brian Potwin (Bend, OR – Commute Options), Jeanette Kloos (Portland, OR – Friends of the Historic Columbia River Highway), Jude Gerace (Portland, OR – Sugar Wheelworks), AJ Zelada (Portland, OR), Jonathan Maus (Portland, OR – BikePortland.org, and Chris DiStefano (Portland, OR – River City Bicycles)
Lobby Day traditionally begins at a temporary headquarters arranged by the League of American Bicyclists. In recent years the basement of Lutheran Church of the Reformation at 212 E Capital Street has been the meeting point. From here, it is a quick walk past the U.S Capital turning right to visit Senate offices or left to the House Office Buildings. The delegation was far smaller for 2017 than it has been in the past though, by all accounts, the smaller size made for more productive meetings. At 30 people just a few years ago we spent most of our meeting time just making introductions!
Visiting Oregon Congressional representatives is a friendly affair and certainly not the contentious or unwelcome reception that many other state representatives get. There is much to do in the halls of the federal government and this day serves as a reminder that bicycles will play an important role in the future. In all, the Oregon delegation met with the offices of 6 of our 7 representatives:
Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Jeff Merkley, Representative Suzanne Bonamici, Representative Greg Walden, Representative Earl Blumenauer, Representative Peter DeFazio, and Representative Kurt Schrader,
Representative DeFazio’s office was unavailable this year though materials were delivered to his office.
The Oregon delegation met with Legislative Assistants from each office to discuss the importance of bicycle related issues, to deliver information on bicycle demand, and to promote state projects. The meetings covered:
Polls taken in 2012 & 2016 reveal a clear demand (across both political affiliations!) for more bicycling infrastructure.
Transportation funding is divided up this way: 17% Transit, 80% Highways and bridges, an and less than 2% for sidewalks, bike lanes and trails. Should the percent of Federal transportation funding which goes to sidewalks, bike lanes and trails be increased, decreased or stay the same?
It’s clear, “Please support multi-modal transportation including bicycling and walking, in any transportation package in front of Congress”
Without a big transportation bill to discuss the delegation turned to two cycling projects that will drive Oregon tourism:
These two projects reflect the diversity of Oregon riding and the strength of bicycle tourism. Over $400 million is spent in the state due to bicycle tourism while generating 4,600 jobs and $18 million in local and state taxes. Bikes will mean increasingly more for business as the state looks to develop sustainable economies for the future.
That said, and in closing, roadways must be safe for recreation and commuting so please contact your local representative to voice your support for the Vision Zero Act of 2017.