Bike Summit
0 comment Sunday, June 29, 2014 |
Part of my new job at Transportation for America is outreach to the bicyclists, and this week, that meant attending the 9th annual Bike Summit here in Washington, DC.
The kickoff event was dinner, where to my surprise, the recipients of the 2009 REI/BikesBelong grants were mentioned, the first on the list being BIKEDENVER! YES! I got a momentary rush and clapped like mad for Piep. Later in the program, James Oberstar, chairman of the influential Transportation and Infrastructure committee reminded us he was chairman, and told us all of the rad things he's going to do for bicyclists for the transportation bill this congress. If half of what he plans makes it through, we'll still be in great shape. Mr. Oberstar is also quite the comedian, and reminds me of my late Norwegian step-grandfather (a fellow Minnesotan).
The next day was a series of panel discussions that were pretty great, but my job was to staff some of them, and to make contact with bike groups in key congressional districts, so I didn't get to go to sessions like "Urban Jump Parks", which sounded pretty inspirational. I did, however, get to park my bike in the EPA building, in what I believe to be the nicest bike room in all of DC.

It's really gigantic, and had about 80 bikes inside, so you can be sure that the employees of the EPA are in fact "living the dream". There was a nice utilitarian quality about it, free of some of the over-designed qualities one finds at newer bike stations. They had a free parts bin, lockers, great racks, a floor pump, benches, and free publications, like Momentum Magazine (I got to meet Amy, the publisher the night before too.)
On Thursday we had meetings with legislative staff on the hill, starting with a breakfast. At one point, a man in a bowtie turned, and I was standing face to face with cycling icon, Rep. Earl Blumenauer. I thanked him for his longstanding support, and told him I was a big fan of CLEAN-TEA. Then, I stood there like an idiot trying to think of something to say, and there was an awkward silence. I wish I'd said, "By the way Mr. Blumenauer, about two weeks ago I went to your release of CLEAN-TEA at the press club, and later that afternoon I got doored by a cab." That might have been an interesting discussion, but instead I clammed up for no good reason.
Later, I met with Rep. Diana Degette's transportation assistant, Steve Plevniak. Steve was really cool, and the delegation I was with gave him the rundown of why Diana shouldn't support the "Wilderness" designation for key federal lands, but a "conservation" designation (because mountain bikes are prohibited on "Wilderness" trails). We also talked about Safe Routes to School funding, Complete Streets support, CLEAN TEA, and the Multi-Modal Commuter Act. Steve was awesome, and we left feeling very hopeful that we'd made some progress on our issues. That night, there was a big party in a reception room in the Senate, I ended up asking former Mayor McGrath if he wanted to go ride cyclocross bikes somewhere, and we have a tentative plan to ride up the C & O canal towpath. My worry now is that he's going to drop me, so I need to get in shape, lest another person from Boulder defeat me on a casual ride.
Speaking of Boulder, I was amazed and astonished at the number of Boulder people who came out for this event. I think it is due to three prominent organizations, Bikes Belong, IMBA, and Safe Routes to School all having a large presence there, but still, can't a few of you guys move to Pueblo or something and make it a little nicer? There were even Boulder kids, apparently, last year Bear Creek Elementary students walked or biked to school 69% of the time, with at least one day where 100% of students walked or biked. Pretty rad indeed.
The last day was the much looked forward to Congressional bike ride. Of course, it was snowing, so most of the members of congress, and all but four or five staffers bailed on it. I wore my typical snow attire of snowboard helmet and goggles, paired with a suit, the sweater my brother and sis gave me for Christmas, and my smartwool ski socks.

Chantal Buchser of WABA and Will
I was comfy all the way until the end of the 16 mile ride, but the weather caught up to us all and we were freezing by the end, especially the Floridians who were wearing their long coats, and the Californians who were in shorts. Welcome to D.C.
More pictures of the ride:

There are at least two Mikes from Boulder in this picture. Mike Van Abel of IMBA, and another Mike that runs a youth mountain biking program. I don't know the guy on the left.

Our escorts, Wounded Warriors and the Freedom Riders. Thanks guys.

John from Santa Cruz (in black) was wearing shorts. He looked cold standing there in the flurries.

The Peloton. We had something like 10 LCIs in the crowd, meaning the scofflaws among us had to stop and wait at red lights.

Eric Gilliland of WABA eschewing the bright colors favored by many bike advocates.

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