WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN)—The clanging of a cowbell sounded continually last night, each time signifying the entrance of a U.S. senator or representative to the Bikes PAC fundraiser. The bell was needed to quiet a room filled with close to 100 influential industry members in attendance at the event at the Monocle restaurant in Washington, D.C.
The fundraiser set a record for Bikes PAC funds raised in a single evening of $25,000 and drew 10 senators and representatives from both sides of the aisle. One of the wait staff at the Monocle, an institution on Capitol Hill, expressed surprise at the number of representatives who showed up to address the group.
“It was a beautiful thing seeing one member of congress standing having a drink and listening to another member. It felt like bicycling had arrived,” said Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong and host of the event.
Among the attendees were cycling supporters Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Congressman Tom Petri of Wisconsin, and Congressman Peter DeFazio of Oregon, all of whom have consistently defended bike interests.
The representation of members from both sides of the aisle showed the bipartisan nature of cycling interests. More than one guest noted that bicycling has the ability to cross over agendas and party lines in a town where everything is a partisan issue.
And cycling seemed to resonate on a personal level with elected officials, regardless of party affiliation. Almost every member of congress shared their own positive bike story.
Congressman Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey spoke of riding bicycles on the boardwalk. Congressman Charlie Dent spoke of the strong influence of bicycling in his Pennsylvania district, home of the Trexlertown velodrome. Senator Tom Carper of Delaware spoke of his shared love for biking with his two sons, one of whom is on the MIT cycling team.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the senate finance committee, spoke of mountain biking in Telluride, Colorado, in the summer. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Representative for the District of Columbia, voiced her support for adding bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave. Representative Bob Corker of Tennesee proudly stated that he was from the home of Litespeed.
Scott Brown, the newly elected Republican Senator from Massachusetts, showed the passion and competitive spirit of a real enthusiast for the sport. “You have an ally—someone who gets it,” Brown told the audience.
If there was any uncertainty expressed during the evening it was over the transportation bill, which has been sidelined due to lack of funding sources. But Blumenauer assured those gathered that due to the opportunities to tie cycling to climate change, energy and healthcare the end result for cycling will be profound.
“The enthusiasm and contributions were record,” said Blumenthal. “It felt hopeful even though the transportation bill is not going anywhere. It’s still uncertain, but it felt timely and powerful.”
PHOTO: Senator Tom Carper of Delaware addresses Bikes PAC fundraiser attendees while Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon looks on.