Thursday, February 25, 2010

Active Community Transportation Act

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon, OR) will introduce the Active Community Transportation Act of 2010 (the ACT Act) on Monday. According to this Rails to Trails fact sheet, the bill will:
provide communities with concentrated investments to complete walking and bicycling networks to shift short driving trips to active transportation. By providing communities with the resources needed to build safe and connected non-motorized routes between the places where people live, work, learn, play and shop, the bill will provide cost-effective transportation choices for millions of Americans.

The U.S. Department of Transportation will administer a competitive fund, which will invest in communities that best make the case for resources to shift large numbers of trips from driving to walking and bicycling.
What do you think the chances are that Fairfax County will have obtaining funds if they permanently eliminate operating funding for the bicycle program?

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

David Byrne at the Newseum

It was a full house last night at the panel discussion sponsored by the Brookings Institute that included musician and cyclist David Byrne, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, and Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner, New York City Dept. of Transportation.

David Byrne is the author of the new book "Bicycle Diaries [which] chronicles David’s observations and insights — what he is seeing, whom he is meeting, what he is thinking about — as he pedals through and engages with some of the world's major cities." His talk was more about liveable places and less about bicycling. In his first slide of Columbia, MD he noted that his parents moved there several years ago and now that they don't drive, find it very difficult to get around. "They're stuck." As are many people who have depended on driving for much of their lives and now need other ways to get around.

He mentioned some of his favorite books about places including Twenty Minutes in Manhattan by Michael Sorkin, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, and The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander.

After discussing cycling in various cities of the world he noted the transformation of Portland, Oregon into a bicycle-friendly city. Merchants who at first resisted removing on-street parking for bike corrals, are now requesting them. Replacing two on-street parking spaces makes way for 25 bike parking spots. And instead of having a van blocking the view of the store, motorists can clearly see through the bikes.

Congressman Blumenauer continues his efforts for cyclists, whom he sees as indicator species for liveable communities (Sadik-Kahn says that families on bikes are indicator species for bicycle-friendly communities). He has a vision of kids, who aren't obese and who once again get to school under their own power. He hopes to expand the Safe Routes to School Program to include high schools.

The bike industry in Portland, which Blumenauer has represented in Congress for 10 years, is worth $100 million in economic activity each year. Families there spend $2500 lees for transportation each year. To foster active transportation choices in the U.S. he plans to sponsor the Active Transportation Fund of 2009 bill in Congress. (See the proposed legislation (pdf)). Portland "has been able to increase its bicycle mode share by 400% in the last two decades for the cost of one mile of freeway."

The final speaker was Janette Sadik-Khan who has lead the transformation of New York City streets. Noting that bicycle standards documents haven't kept up with some of the more innovative bicycle facilities being implemented in Portland, New York City and elsewhere, she announced the formation of Cities for Cycling "a project of the National Association of City Transportation Officials to catalog, promote and implement the world's best bicycle transportation practices in American municipalities."

Both Blumenauer and DDOT director Gabe Klein mentioned that the powers that be need to hear from cyclists. Blumenauer issued a call to action by saying "we've been too accepting of the status quo. We need to agitate more." We need to challenge people who say we shouldn't be spending money on more bike and ped facilities because most people drive. About 1/3 of us don't drive, the disabled, elderly, young, and those who choose a different path. We're not spending 1/3 of our transportation dollars to accommodate them and we should.

I hope Congressman Blumenauer is correct when he states "You will be stunned by what happens in the next 10 years" in the way of bicycle infrastructure improvements.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Congressman Blumenauer rides in New York City

Today Streetfilms released a short film about a visit to New York City by Congressman Earl Blumenauer:
Rep. Earl Blumenauer dropped by Transportation Alternatives' offices to take a quick excursion around mid-town with Executive Director, Paul Steely White, and Senior Policy Director, Noah Budnick. They checked out a few standard (painted) bike lanes and some of the newer (physically separated) facilities, of which the latter Mr. Blumenauer thought were superior. Along the way he offered much commentary about the state of biking and livable streets in the nation.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Congressional Bike Caucus letter on Transportation Bill

As reported by Bike Portland, Congressman Earl Blumenauer on behalf of the Congressional Bike Caucus recently wrote to Congressman Oberstar and Congressman Mica, Chair and Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to "express our support for establishing a truly multi-modal national transportation policy that better integrates bicycling and walking into our nation's transportation system."

He went on to write that "Bicycling and walking currently accounts for 10% of all trips made by Americans yet our current Federal investment is closer to 2% of transportation funds. Investing in these modes of transportation creates jobs, saves taxpayers money and helps raise our overall quality of life."

He then asks for committee support to:
  1. Reauthorize the Safe Routes to School Program at a substantially higher level
  2. Include a Complete Streets policy requirement to ensure that roads built using federal transportation dollars are available to all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians
  3. Create a new Active Transportation Investment Fund
  4. Require data collection of comparable frequency and scope for all modes of transportation
See a copy of the Congressional Bike Caucus letter.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

WABA gala next weekend

The annual WABA Gala and Benefit Auction will be held on Saturday, March 21 from 5:30-11:00pm at the German Embassy. This is a great opportunity to socialize with fellow cyclists, bid on lots of bike gear and other goodies, and support WABA. Congressman Earl Blumenauer will be honored this year:

"At this year's event, WABA will have the wonderful opportunity to honor and recognize Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) for his outstanding contributions and advocacy efforts towards bicycling as a national priority".

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