Bicycle Diaries: Pols that roll

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Pols that roll

The House &
Senate Bike Caucuses

When the 110th US Congress is sworn in on 3 January 2007, 15 Senators and 139 Representatives will take their seats as members of the two bi-partisan bike caucuses.

Both caucuses are quite new, started three years ago with the help of The League of American Bicyclists. On his website Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Dem-OR) describes the mission of the House Bike Caucus:
To encourage Congressional leadership to complement the efforts of the millions of cyclists working for safer roads, more bikeways, convenient bike parking and increased recognition of the importance of cycling to our communities.
Although he started the caucus as an informal group for having fun, its principles have expanded to include bike advocacy:
  • It is in the national interest to promote low-cost, low-impact transportation modes which decrease our reliance on imported fossil fuels.
  • It is in the national interest to insure that our national infrastructure provides safe, appropriate transportation options for all citizens.
  • Cycling, as a mode of transportation requires no fossil fuels, has no impact on air quality, creates less wear and tear on roads, and is more affordable than automated vehicles.
It's no surprise that Blumenauer is one of the leading rollers in Congress. For almost twenty years, he has championed policies and programs that led to Portland's acclaim as one of the nation's most livable cities.

Perhaps best known for his efforts to provide Portlanders with a range of transportation choices - from bicycles to light rail to trolleys - Blumenauer also launched curbside recycling programs and initiated common-sense measures to protect the Willamette River from combined sewer overflow.

As with the bike initiatives in Portland, the Congressional Bike Caucuses will be important to the promotion of sustainable transportation alternatives across the US. But whatever is proposed, livable communities require local grassroots commitment. And they'll be sustained by partnerships between civic and business organizations at the state, local and federal levels of government.

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