by MaryEllen Thibodeau
Bike Walk Connecticut was represented at the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC on March 3-5 by Laura Baum and MaryEllen Thibodeau. Joining them and 700 others were Jan Bolland Tanner and Jodi Polsgrove of Benidorm Bike in Canton, Trevor Maclean, a college student and bike racer from Westport, and Michael Norris, CT Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board member (go to diybiking.com for a great article on his first timer’s trip to the summit).
We heard that the snowstorm which arrived in DC Sunday night interfered with some attendees travel, but you couldn’t tell from the large crowds of cycling enthusiasts who braved the weather. We heard from and learned from creative, hardworking, committed advocates from all over the US and government officials like Congressman Earl Blumenaur of Portland Oregon – cyclists’ best friend in Congress bar none – and DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, who as mayor of Charlotte, NC put roads on diets to add bike lanes. Unfortunately, due to the prevailing sentiment in Congress, there was not much good news on the federal front for any increased funding for biking and walking. But we were heartened by some of the great things that are being done at the local level by mayors who “get it” – like the mayor of Memphis who is adding bike lanes and multi-use paths to combat an obesity epidemic – and cities like Las Vegas – yup, you soon will be able to bike from casino to casino - that are adding bike share programs.
On to the Hill
On March 5, we spent the entire day going from meeting to meeting with legislative assistants for Senators Blumenthal and Murphy and Representatives Larson, DeLauro, Himes and Esty to let them know how important support for biking and pedestrian initiatives is for many people back home. Our hopes of bringing this message directly to our elected officials (we were slated to meet with Rep. Esty) were dashed when we learned that most of them would be boarding Air Force One with President Obama to attend his speech at Central Connecticut State University that afternoon.
We asked for help in passing two acts which had been introduced recently in the Senate and House. Specifically, we asked that each of the elected officials from Connecticut co-sponsor the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act: HR 3494 / S 1708 and the Safe Streets Act (previously introduced as the Complete Streets Act) HR 2468/ S2004. Senator Blumenthal had already agreed to co-sponsor the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act directly as a result of receiving over 100 emails asking him to do that. Yes, your voice does make a difference!
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