WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN)—It was snowing cherry blossoms as delegates made their way to meetings with congressional members Thursday. And the streets were crowded with tourists who are in town for the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Hundreds made their case for cycling on Capitol Hill clad in their best business attire and sporting the infamous fluorescent bike pins on their lapels.
Bikes Belong’s Tim Blumenthal said he and Trek president John Burke, and Bikes Belong vice president of government relations Ivette Rivera engaged in a 45-minute debate on the transportation bill with Will Kinzel, assistant to the Speaker of the House for Policy. “It was forward-looking and constructive,” said Blumenthal. “Pretty phenomenal.”
Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, said the message of giving local governments more control over funding with the Petri amendment resonated with members of Congress. Clarke confirmed that Democratic House leaders introduced H.R. 14 late Wednesday. It’s a House version of the Senate’s transportation bill (MAP-21). But he didn’t think it would advance as it didn’t have wide Republican support. A three-month extension to the current transportation bill is looking more and more like what will happen over the next week.
Clarke said by his counts delegates participated in close to 400 meetings.
And industry participation continues to go up.
Quality Bicycle Products sent nine employees to the National Bike Summit this year, up from three last year, said Seth Nesselhuf. They met with Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken.
Nesselhuf said they presented findings from a study by the company’s health care provider that showed how employee health care costs had decreased 4 percent from 2009 to 2011, which it attributes at least partially to its bike commuter program. He said the study showed that on average costs for healthcare have gone up 20 percent for companies over the past two years.
Adrian Montgomery of Scott Sports said the Idaho group grew to eight people from only one person four years ago.
Cane Creek’s Chris Strout said the North Carolina contingent consisted of 24 people.
“We had really good meetings,” he said, adding that Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican, co-sponsored the amendment that returned some of the bike funding to the Senate bill.
The Summit concludes Friday morning with a bike ride that starts at the Capitol Hill.