(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
While threats of a major snowstorm have not materialized and the cold rain is pouring down outside, the power of bicycles is the topic of discussion right now in the hallways and around tables in the House and Senate office buildings on Capitol Hill. It’s lobby day at the National Bike Summit and that means bike advocates are making their official “asks” of members of Congress.
Lobby day consists of advocates from all 50 states holding scheduled meetings with electeds where a pre-selected set of “asks” will be put on the table. Each state team lays out a strategy and mixes in official asks from the League of American Bicyclists with their own localized priorities.
This year, the League has given us three official asks:
1) Support a performance measure for bicycling and walking fatalities and injuries in MAP-21
The new transportation bill mandates that the US Department of Transportation lay out performance measures for traffic fatalities and injuries. Unfortunately, while the number of people killed in the traffic crashes in the U.S. is on the decline, the rate of people killed while biking and walking has not gone down as rapidly. And in fact, that number went up between 2010 and 2011, from 12% to 16% of all traffic fatalities. This performance measure would come with incentives for states and metropolitan planning agencies to reach the goals. The League is asking for a 50% reduction in biking and walking deaths by 2020. We are also asking each member to sign on to a “Dear Colleague” letter about safety performance measures that has been written by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Tom Petri. The letter highlights the issue and urges Reps. Blumenauer and Petri’s colleagues to pressure the USDOT to specifically include non-motorized transportation modes in the new performance measures.
Learn more about this issue on the League’s blog.
2) Support the nomination of Sally Jewell to as Interior Secretary.
Former REI CEO Sally Jewell’s nomination by President Obama has sent bicycling and outdoor advocates buzzing. She is seen as someone how can instill a strong sense of value in outdoor recreation within the Obama administration.
3) Visit communities to see what makes them bike friendly.
Each state advocacy team has been asked to select a project within their state and then invite their member of Congress to come out and see it in person. Amid the highly partisan and bruising political environment in D.C. these days, a non-controversial photo op highlighting a big success for bicycling can be a persuasive tool. District visits also help deepen the relationship and strengthens the lines of communication between advocates and their representatives.
Oregon has 33 people here advocating on behalf of our state. I’ll introduce you to them later today. We’ve got meetings scheduled with Senator Wyden and Representatives Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Greg Walden, Kurt Schrader, and Suzanne Bonamici (our meeting with Sen. Jeff Merkley has been cancelled due to inclement weather.)
Stay tuned for reports, photos and updates from Capitol Hill
More coverage from the National Bike Summit here.