LAS VEGAS, NV (BRAIN)—U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer cut the ribbon to let a flood of retailers into Interbike’s final indoor show at the Sands Convention Center yesterday morning moments after speaking at Interbike’s first-ever opening press conference. (For the digital version of Show Daily #2, please click on story title and hit "Visit Link").
Blumenauer, an eight-term Democratic representative from Oregon’s third district and staunch cycling advocate, spoke to the crowd of about 50 journalists and industry notables about reinforcing the message of the power of the bicycle.
His own renewed inspiration came earlier that morning when out for a run on the “soulless” Las Vegas strip, a lone cyclist pedaling with one leg rode past him smiling, reminding him of the famous H.G. Wells quote: “When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.”
“You’re on the frontlines of something that’s truly transforming America,” the aptly bow-tied Blumenauer said. Despite the economic recession, the cycling industry has held strong with many companies reporting year-over-year growth, he said.
Blumenauer, who’s up for reelection in November, urged industry representatives to get on their soapbox about the economic impact of cycling, citing examples in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, where cycling is a $100 million industry that employs 1,100 people. Cycling infrastructure has increased over 400 percent in the last 20 years in the pro-cycling city at the same cost of building one mile of freeway lane, Blumenauer said.
As a result, families there drive 20 percent less than the national average, allowing them to dump at least $2,500 more into the local economy on other purchases.
And it’s not only Portland, a city that regularly garners plenty of attention for its efforts to promote cycling.
Blumenauer cited progress made in New York City, Chicago, Indianapolis and Philadelphia where tens of millions of dollars in federal stimulus money have been spent on bike and pedestrian facilities.
“This is something that we all ought to savor. We ought to raise that banner higher. We ought not to be bashful about the federal, state and local partnerships,” he said, adding that he would work to expand the bike commuter tax credit and extend the Safe Routes to School program to high schools around the nation.
“These are all things that we can do together that can make life better,” he said.
Cycling advocates can act locally by gathering support for the Community Transportation Act, pressing regional politicians for resources to expand Safe Routes to School and staging mini bike summits and forums with involvement from local retailers to form a strong voice about the benefits of cycling.