Mar 22, 2007

NATIONAL BIKE SUMMIT RECAP

{words by Reed Pike}

Well, I am just back from the National Bike Summit (March 14th-16th) in Washington, DC, where my boon traveling companion, Dave Hull (Raleigh America’s Customer Service Manager), and I had a great time and some successes – more on the successes later. First, the Summit.
Organized and presented annually by the League of American Bicyclists, the National Bike Summit brings together stakeholders—user groups, industry, government, and elected officials—from around the country to share ideas and best practices, and to work together to develop a persuasive case statement for bicycling. Delegate groups from every state then take that case to Capitol Hill and meet with their respective members of Congress and/or their staffs to seek legislation that will expand and improve opportunities to ride bicycles around the country.

The National Bike Summit's main sponsor is Bikes Belong; other sponsors include the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), Adventure Cycling Association, the National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA), the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

This year the Summit brought together more than 430 leading bicycle advocates, a record! Highlights of the Summit included reintroduction of the Bicycle Commuter Act (to provide a tax incentive to bicycle commuting) in the House and Senate; inspirational presentations from the Mayor of Louisville, senior administration officials from the Departments of Transportation and Interior, and former Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater; and a surprise appearance from 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis. And, no report on the National Bike Summit, bicycle advocacy, or cycling-related legislation is complete without a mention of Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota (8th District) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon (3rd District), cycling’s true champions in Congress.

Three personal highlights of the trip:
1. As Dave and I sat at the gate waiting for our connecting flight from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to Reagan National Airport, a man walked up and I swear (no, really, I mean it) I said to myself, “That man must have a hard time in airports because he looks a lot like the Reverend Jesse Jackson.” Honest! And not a moment later I said to myself, “No, wait, that is Jesse Jackson!” The Reverend was very approachable, and we did get a chance to speak with him. He was on his way to DC for the Rainbow Coalition/PUSH March Against the War in Iraq on Saturday, March 16th. He would speak with each person who approached him and then immediately get back on the phone – working it! And he was flying coach. But as the plane was pulling away from the gate (and I mean moving) a gentleman came back from first class and gave the “Rev” his seat.

2. Getting a chance to meet with and speak with Floyd Landis, the 2006 Tour de France winner (I believe him!). Like the Reverend, Floyd was very approachable and great to talk to. His “star-power” was a great asset at the Summit; to see Senators come up to Floyd and gush, “Floyd, I watched every stage on OLN [now Versus], you are my hero, can I have my picture taken with you?” was unbelievable, but I saw it happen more than once. Floyd was smooth and gracious with members of Congress and bicycle advocates alike. Floyd’s appearance at the Summit was arranged by Chris Fortune of the Saris Cycling Group and Richard Bryne of Speedplay. Fortune is a leading supporter of bicycling advocacy and quite an advocate himself. Supporting the Saris Cycling Group through purchases of its products results in support for advocacy, so buy Saris products! Richard Bryne is an old friend of mine; we used to race together years ago (before clipless pedals) in Southern California – Richard at the front the peloton and I at the back. Kudos to both men and their companies for their ongoing support of bicycle advocacy and of Floyd.

3. Finally, just a little success the Washington State delegation, of which Dave and I were members, had at the Summit:

"Gentlemen,

I wanted to thank you once again for the informative meeting yesterday.
Senator Cantwell has asked me to inform you that she has decided to co-sponsor Senator Wyden's (OR) bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the transportation fringe benefit to bicycle commuters (S. 858).
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any future questions or concerns.
I wish all of you a terrific (and dry) weekend.

Best Regards,
Justus

Justus J. Geist
Legislative Correspondent
Office of U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell"
While I am not sure how much credit is actually due to the Washington delegation, I can say that if we had any influence it was due to the preparation of materials and training we received from the staff and volunteers from the League of American Bicyclists and Bikes Belong –thank you! Justus and all the staff of the members of Congress from Washington State were very patient and listened attentively to what I am sure was seemingly the “umpteenth” presentation of the day. A special thanks goes to Rep. Dave Reichert (8th district) for meeting with us personally. Dave, get a bike and rehab that knee the right way!

This was my third National Bike Summit (I attended in 2001 and 2002); attendance and effectiveness have both grown tremendously. It is hard to imagine a trip that will be more memorable than this one; but I will be there next year, you can count on it.

For another personal report on the Summit I recommend visiting Bike Portland. Jonathan Maus (Founder, Editor in Chief, and principal Reporter of bikeportland.org) is doing great things there in Portland (OR) through his blog – highlighting important cycling issues, bringing together stakeholders, highlighting successes, and just reporting on the fun of riding a bike!

I hope that I have given you a sense that there is real progress being achieved and that your support will add to the momentum being gained. Join one of the supporting organizations, make a donation, buy products from member companies of Bikes Belong, write your members of Congress, and “Enjoy the Ride!”

(Full Disclosure – portions of this posting regarding the National Bike Summit include blocks of text “borrowed” from the reports of the League of American Bicyclists, Bikes Belong and probably others – thank you.)

Photos: #1 - Reed, Dave, & Capitol/#2 - Dave, Reverend Jesse Jackson, & Reed/#3 - Dave & Floyd Landis/ #4 - Legislative Asks

2 comments:

Amy said...

Thanks for the recap of the event. I work with Adventure Cycling Association and the Bike Summit was a great success from what my coworkers have said. I just wanted to let you know that we have been switching over our URL for the last year and our new URL is www.adventurecycling.org. Your help in switching this over would be much appreciated. Thanks and keep up the great work. Oh and PS, as a big fan of my old cruiser bike , I am really excited about the coasters and can't wait to test ride one!

CS-H of Raleigh said...

Amy,

The switch has been done, thanks for informing us.

Coasting bikes should be hitting dealers floors in the next couple of weeks if not sooner. You should definitely take one for a spin - we here at Raleigh have been having a blast on our 2 sample bikes.

Enjoy.