WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN)—Columbia, Missouri may not be top of mind when it comes to bike-friendly cities. But Columbia’s fifth-term mayor Darwin Hindman, who championed the city’s Katy Trail, is putting this Midwestern city on the cycling map.
“The Katy Trail is crowded with users. Now our obligation is to get our streets crowded with users using bikes for commuting as well as recreation,” Hindman told more than 700 leaders of the bicycling advocacy movement and industry at a reception in Washington, D.C. last night.
The reception kicked off the National Bike Summit, which culminates Thursday when more than 400 meetings with members of Congress are scheduled with delegates from 48 states, including local bicycle retailers, industry executives, elected officials and user groups.
Mayor Hindman said delegates need to stress the importance of funding at the local level to their Congressional representatives. “We need to point out how important it is to get money to the cities where people live,” Hindman said, adding that one reason Columbia has seen bicycling rise is due to grassroots support.
Attendees will visit Capitol Hill to ask their senators and representatives to sign on to several key pieces of legislation including the Active Community Transportation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4722) introduced last week by Rep. Blumenauer and the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act.
Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists and host of the Summit, said there’s no question of the importance of support at the local level. “Earl Blumenauer’s Act provides a real source of funding in cities that truly hunger to get on with the job,” Clarke said.
Clarke said record attendance at this year’s summit shows how far the cycling movement has come since the first event 10 years ago. But he said that first summit, when 120 people gathered at the Washington Plaza Hotel, established many ongoing elements such as great speakers and an amazing collaboration of ideas.
“The Summit and bicycle movement is on the rise," Clarke said. “As cycling grows, so do the number of reasons why we need even more Americans to ride bicycles. We've got 100 more people than last year, and when we first did this in 2001 we had fewer than 150 people.”
Among the attendees at this year’s Summit are 150 local bicycle retailers. The NBDA granted $30,000 in scholarships to first-time and returning dealers to make it affordable for them to participate.