Knowing what to ask for, and when
WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN) — With Congress in the grips of the Great Sequester 3.0, it might seem an inopportune time for cycling advocates to storm Capitol Hill in the interest of pushing the two-wheel and pedestrian agenda. Considerably bigger fish and all.
But U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, a fixture at the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Summit, views the timing through a different prism.
“You are going to be a welcome addition to their schedule. You’re here with success stories,” he said Tuesday at the 2013 Summit.
That’s why in addition to sharing stories about successful bike shares and green lane projects that have helped reduce motor congestion, promoted healthier living and revived Main Street commerce, Summit attendees will seek expressions of moral support--rather than cash infusion — from their elected officials Wednesday.
Will House members join the congressional bike caucus, or come see what makes their home-state district a bike-friendly community? Senators: Try out D.C.’s Capital Bike share program? Visit a bike-friendly project back home? Support President Obama’s nomination of REI chief executive Sally Jewell to Interior secretary? (Her confirmation hearing is set to begin Thursday).
“If we were asking for money, we’d be fools,” League president Andy Clarke said of the current political climate in Washington.
But advocates were also urged to remind lawmakers that even modest government backing of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure can not only improve quality of life, but help companies draw the coveted pool of top-drawer young talent who increasingly seek a less car-dependent way of life.
“Part of our challenge when you visit my friends on the Hill,” Blumenauer said, “is to help them understand how what you are doing is part of the solution to their problems. You’re not there complicating their life; you’re there to help them out.”
In the saddle … and the driver’s seat, too
WASHINGTON, D.C (BRAIN) — Only in the political cradle of strange bedfellows.
On Tuesday, Yolanda Cade, public relations director for AAA — yes, that triple-A — held court at the afternoon keynote about how the League of American Bicyclists and the biggest auto lobbying group in the nation have made all friend-like.
Despite tepid applause in the early going, Cade said, “I wouldn’t have felt so welcome here just a few years ago.” The groups have found common ground in recent years, however, she added.
“Most of us working at Triple-A are like you: We’re both drivers and cyclists,” said Cade.
“Safety and mobility for everyone truly remains the heart of AAA’s mission,” she added.
Cade noted that her home state of Florida, where she rides casually with her family, has the highest rate of cycling and pedestrian deaths in the nation. “It should be a bike-friendly place,” she said. “Numbers are trending down, but that’s enough.”
The League and AAA then premiered their new joint television public service announcement highlighting the shared values of drivers and cyclists--who are most often both, studies show. The spot is adapted from a campaign created among the Canadian Automobile Association, Ontario’s Share the Road Cycling Coalition, and Toronto advertising firm Top Drawer Creative.
To view the PSA, visit www.sharetheroad.aaa.com.
Blumenthal among LAB leadership honorees
WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN) — The League presented its annual Leadership Awards on Tuesday, honoring advocacy groups on the state and local levels along with a special prize devoted to an entity promoting healthy living.
The state honor went to Bicycle Colorado, accepted by executive director Dan Grunig.
Executive director Rebecca Sema accepted the local award on behalf of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.
Honored with the Paul Dudley White award — named after President Eisenhower’s personal physician, among the first to promote physical activity — was Tim Blumenthal, president of Bikes Belong.
In his acceptance speech, Blumenthal remembered beloved industry figure Leslie Bohm, who succumbed to cancer six months ago.
With Bohm’s widow, Lynne, looking on from the lunchtime audience at the Summit, Blumenthal offered his late friend’s personal mission statement as a model all should follow: “Extend yourself and add value. Possess a positive attitude. Never complain. Bring out the best in others. Cultivate relationships. Be curious. Read and learn. Build momentum. Live intentionally and be self-reliant. And finally, possess an attitude of gratitude.”