Tomorrow (March 4th) thousands of cyclists will gather in support of biking at the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. They’ll be throwing their collective weight behind Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and his National Bike Bill, which “recogniz[es] the importance of bicycling in transportation and recreation.”
The bill is co-sponsored by Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN), and backed by the League of American Bicyclists.
From the League, via bikeportland.org:
[The Bill] calls on the United States Congress to adopt a national bicycling strategy to fully realize the incredible benefits of getting more people bicycling, more safely, more often,” and it urges lawmakers to ensure “wise use of the considerable Federal investment in transportation infrastructure, and that expanded funding for bicycling and walking programs is desirable and important.
Whereas a national network of interconnected urban and rural bikeways can provide valuable community benefits, including low or no-cost recreation and alternative transportation options for people of all ages and abilities.
The bill addresses myriad reasons why America needs a bike bill, from the nation’s obesity epidemic, to the high cost of car travel (“bicycle commuters annually save on average $1,825 in auto-related costs, reduce their carbon emissions by 128 pounds, conserve 145 gallons of gasoline, and avoid 50 hours of gridlock traffic”), to carbon emissions. The bill also states that “since 1980, the number of miles Americans drive has grown 3 times faster than the United States population, and almost twice as fast as vehicle registrations.”
The bill is worth checking out for such startling facts, alone. It also offers this piece of encouraging news:
…Investment used for improvements for bicyclists and promoting bicycle use resulted in the quadrupling of bicycle use in Portland, Oregon, since 1994 and a recent report to Congress on the nonmotorized transportation pilot program reveals that 19.6 percent of trips in Minneapolis, Minnesota, are made by biking and walking, reflecting the benefit of initial investments in nonmotorized infrastructure.
As if these weren’t reasons enough, the National Bike Bill is essential, says the League, especially in light of a recent government report on the funding for transportation, published by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Commission, omitted any mention of bicycle travel. In the report, “there were more pictures of ducks and deer than bicyclists,” gripes the League, which also criticized new climate change legislation for failing to “encourage or increase bicycle use,” as in London.
For a look at how U.S. politicians typically treat cycling, see our article on the Anti-Cycling Administration.
Even if you’re not donning your spandex bike shorts at the capitol tomorrow, you can still help get the Bike Bill passed by contacting your congressional representative.
Photos via flickr by bikeportland.org.