Oregon advocates find warm reception on Capitol Hill

Oregon advocates find warm reception on Capitol Hill

Bike Summit Lobby Day on Capitol Hill-11

Oregon bike advocates in the Capitol Hill office of Rep. Greg Walden (R-2nd). Left to right: Blane Meier, owner of First City Cycles in Oregon City; Harry Daalgard, Travel Oregon; Brian Potwin, Commute Options, Bend; Rep. Walden; Alison Graves, executive director of Cycle Oregon (seated); Brian Jorgensen, student at Lees-McCrae College; Dr. A.J. Zelada, advocate and former member of the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee; Mike Cosgrove, gravel road riding evangelist from John Day.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

—BikePortland’s coverage from Washington D.C. is made possible by Planet Bike.

Oregon advocates might have the easiest job of any of the state delegations here at the National Bike Summit. No matter which of the seven offices they entered during the annual bike lobby day on Capitol Hill, they were greeted with smiles and support.

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The Oregon delegation wore a modified, Cycle Oregon
inspired version of the ubiquitous bike pin.

But even so, that doesn’t mean that the 20 or so advocates took it easy or let their guard down. On the contrary, they lobbied like true pros. In fact, one main reason Oregon’s congressional representatives are so friendly to cycling is because of the quality of our advocates. This was on display from the first meeting to the last.

The Oregon advocacy team was well-prepared and delivered a persuasive barrage of statistics, poignant personal stories, and examples of successes earned and challenges that remain. Economic development was a big theme; but beyond impressive dollar figures, stories were shared about how bicycling is vital to combating Oregon’s childhood obesity crisis and about the importance of signature projects like the Salmonberry Corridor and the completion of the Historic Columbia River Highway.

To illustrate the importance of projects like the Salmonberry, advocate Stephanie Routh told House Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-1st) how her grandfather’s Tillamook County timber business was decimated years ago and how a new trail could help revitalize forest towns (a topic she shared more about with us back in December).

The big surprise of the day came during a meeting with Greg Walden, the sole Republican in Oregon’s Congressional delegation. Before anyone could even sit down in his office, he asked eagerly, “What’s the route for Cycle Oregon this year?” Turns out he and his wife did a bike-and-barge trip on e-bikes along the coastline of Croatia this past year. Rep. Walden loved it and couldn’t stop singing the praises of bike touring and e-bikes the entire meeting.

Check out more photos below from Oregon’s bike lobbying day on Capitol Hill:

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Randy Miller (left) and Rob Sadowsky strolling the halls of the Cannon House Office Building.
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Rapha Communications Director Chris Distefano wanted to tell Rep. Bonamici about how his company has brought jobs to her district.
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Miller and Sadowsky in the meeting Rep. Bonamici.
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Jeanette Kloos and Steph Routh.
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Rep. Bonamici shaking hands with Portland resident (and BikePortland Podcast producer) Lilian Karabaic.
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Around the table in Rep. Walden’s office.
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Rep. Walden looking over materials about cycling in Oregon.
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Alison Graves (Cycle Oregon), Mychal Tetteh (Community Cycling Center) and Christopher Delaney (Humans on Bikes) discussing strategy outside Sen. Merkley’s office.
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Pre-meeting hall traffic outside Sen. Merkley’s office.
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Washington County Commissioner Dick Schouten shared stories about impending development at Intel and Nike and how company leaders want more employees to commute by bike.
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Brian Potwin and Christopher Delaney. It was Delaney’s first-ever time on the Hill. “I love it!” he told me, “This [advocate for something he loves] is what I want to do with my life!”
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Community Cycling Center CEO Mychal Tetteh did a stellar job leading the Merkley meeting.
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Sen. Merkley has that powerful combination of genuine warmth and sharp intelligence.

— Hope you are enjoying my coverage from D.C. See the rest of it here.

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