While the first day of the 2014 National Bike Summit seemed focused primarily on inspiration, the second day turned more towards preparation and instruction. On Wednesday we lobby on Capitol Hill for three pieces of legislation that, if passed, will create safer streets and provide new opportunities for cycling infrastructure in communities nationwide.
- Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act: Requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to focus specifically on reducing fatalities for bicyclists and pedestrians.
- New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Act: Provides low-cost financing for bicycle infrastructure projects and directs millions of dollars to help low income communities.
- Safe Streets Act: Ensures that all streets are designed, planned and built with all users in mind.
The summit opened with a speech from Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer, a champion for bicycles and an avid cyclist himself. Blumenauer is responsible for much of the bicycle friendly legislation throughout the years and is partially responsible for introducing the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act that we will be lobbying for tomorrow. We also heard from Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx who uttered one of the most reassuring statements of the day, a statement that was met with excited applause. In regards to his plans for transportation, he told us, “I have made investing in bicycles and pedestrians my priority and so has the president!” Now all we have to do is convince congress to agree with him.
Hundreds of advocates from across the nation listened intently to the speeches of these and other important politicians and attended smaller break out sessions throughout the day. This influx of information accomplished two goals. It prepared us for our long day in the halls of Congress tomorrow and has armed us with new ideas and fresh advocacy strategies to unleash upon our local communities when we return. These break out sessions included a variety of topics like overcoming the perception in some communities that all cyclists are law-breaking “skofflaws” (more information in a Rubber Side Down post to come) and how companies can encourage bicycling in their communities and their workplace.
As the conference portion of the bike summit comes to a close, the most important task is yet to come. Tomorrow, Art’s Cyclery and hundreds of other advocates will lead the charge on Capitol Hill to speak to members of Congress and help enact change in a society that desperately needs it. Tomorrow we will fight for bikes.