WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN)—Armed with talking points and brightly colored bike lapel pins, more than 700 leaders of the bicycling industry and advocacy movement took Capitol Hill by storm yesterday.
“What a euphoric moment for bicycling,” Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong, told the audience gathered in the Senate Dirksen building to wrap up a successful lobbying day during the National Bike Summit.
Delegates from 48 states, including local bicycle retailers, industry executives, elected officials and user groups had 465 scheduled meetings with members of Congress and their staffs.
Attendees asked 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. Earl Blumenauer. The legislation would create a $400 million annual fund to grant money to communities to complete networks for bicycling and walking.
As a result of one meeting, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley said he would introduce a companion bill in the Senate of the bill, dubbed Act Act.
To cap off the day, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood joined Rep. Blumenauer to address attendees at the congressional reception. LaHood, who climbed up on a table in order to make himself heard in the packed room, thanked Blumenauer for turning him onto the livable communities movement.
“From my very first day, he said, ‘LaHood, get with the livable communities,’” said LaHood, who stepped into the post last January.
“People want to live in livable communities. People want walking paths and biking paths and opportunities for families to hang together and have fun,” LaHood said, adding that every nice weekend he and his wife ride the C&O Canal Trail.
LaHood noted the recent TIGER grants issued by the Department of Transportation included substantial funding for bike paths. The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) included awards totaling more than $43 million to complete nonmotorized transportation networks in Philadelphia and Indianapolis.
And LaHood said we could expect more support for bike-related projects from the Department of Transportation.
“You have a full partner in Ray LaHood and many full partners at the DOT,” he said.