We are all guilty of certain prejudices. In the escalating (and increasingly dangerous) tensions between car commuters and bicycle riders, battle lines are drawn. As an avid cyclist leaning fairly hard to port, I had very little reason to interrogate the stereotypes embodied in the scenario above. But eventually a few needling questions penetrated my insulated sphere of thought: What if there are conservatives who ride bikes? What the hell do they look like? And where can I find them?
On the Internet, of course.
Chat with your Democratic state legislators [about bicycling and why our bills failed in the House Subcommittee and why is the Baltimore County Bike Master Plan Dead? (Because the State is not following Federal Policy in allowing matching funds.)] and watch an evening of the Maryland General Assembly.
When: Monday, March 30, 2009 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Miller Senate Office Building
President’s Conference Center West I & II
11 Bladen Street
Annapolis, MD 21401
Who: County Executive Jim Smith – Master of Ceremonies
Governor Martin O’Malley – Keynote Speaker
Baltimore County State Legislators
County Councilmen & Other County Officials
Members of the Baltimore County Democratic Clubs
I encourage everyone to sign the petition; this also serves to keep you in the loop about upcoming actions on this in the next few weeks. It's possible that the authority of how to spend stimulus funds may fall solely on states, which forces the advocacy world into a difficult place by decentralizing our efforts.
"(Commuting by bicycle) is an absolutely essential part of my day. It's mind-clearing, invigorating. I get to go out and pedal through the countryside in the early morning hours, and see life come back and rejuvenate every day as the sun is coming out."
Please pardon the length of this post, but I want to provide information on our incoming USDOT Secretary, Ray LaHood, a moderate Republican Congressman from central Illinois who was retiring from his seat this year. In summary, he's been great for us! He is an active supporter of bicycling and trails, and he has very visibly gone against the wishes of his party leaders on our issues:
In a letter da ted April 28, 1997, LaHood joined 5 other Republican House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee members in expressing support for both Enhancements and CMAQ to the committee chair, Bud Schuster. He also spoke to the Illinois Valley Wheelm'n bicycle club about his support of both of these funding sources, which he said "have provided many benefits to the environment and local communities (e.g., bicycle and recreational trails). I believe in the importance and value of these programs." Congressman LaHood's leadership was pivotal in ensuring that Enhancements would continue in TEA-21 (1998).
On July 11, 2003, a House Appropriations Subcommittee, led by Rep. Istook (R-OK), passed a fiscal year 2004 transportation budget that redirected the $600 million slated for Transportation Enhancements to highway construction. Zeroing out TE threatened it not only for that year, but for the reautho rization bill that became SAFETEA-LU. An effort to restore dedicated Enhancements funding barely failed in full committee, where LaHood was one of only two R's voting for it. In a tremendous and powerful 327-90 victory that solidified TE's status, a bi-partisan amendment won 327-90 on the House floor. LaHood stood up impressively to make a floor statement in support:
Here's a template op-ed on the Transportation for America coalition's concerns about the shaping of the stimulus bill. This is a VERY critical moment in the debate. We think Congress should:
Conduct the discussions about what gets funded in the open: All states
should make public what they are proposing. They should get no blank
checks, but should be accountable toward national priorities. Those
national priorities should include longterm benefits to the economy,
safety, reduced oil dependence and carbon emissions. We should fix
what we have before we build new highways.
This is possible if the economic stimulus package the President-elect is expected to sign on day one includes a $100 billion investment to:
? Repair and preserve highways, bridges and existing public transportation service, and support the green jobs associated with this work;
? Build modern rail and rapid bus lines and upgrade all forms of service in cities large and small;
? Develop high-speed and other forms of inter-city rail; and
? Make streets safe for walking and biking.
While repairing existing roads and bridges is a necessary expenditure, given that the national highway system has been built, federal resources and attention must go toward supporting the cleanest forms of transportation ? public transit, high speed rail, walking and biking. The Transportation for America Campaign has identified more than 65 such ready-to-go projects within the next year, requiring over $17B in funding to get going.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee has hit on a novel way of reducing the pressure that the enormous crowd expected to show up on Inauguration Day will put on Washington: Have Barack Obama take a pre-inaugural railroad tour that will allow people to show up to view him and Joe Biden at multiple locations.
"As part of the most open and accessible Inauguration in history, we hope to include as many Americans as possible who wish to participate, but can't be in Washington," said the committee's executive director Emmett S. Beliveau, in the press release.
Obama will hold an event in Philadelphia the Saturday before the inauguration, then be joined by Joe Biden at an event in Wilmington, Delaware, with the two then proceeding to another rally in Baltimore, Maryland. It seems reasonable to expect that as the train heads to D.C., crowds could very well line the whole railroad to see them go by.
Bear in mind that the inauguration is expected to have millions of people trying to attend. Every person who can show up to the pre-inaugural events, or even catch a glimpse of the train going by, is somebody who won't necessarily feel they have to go to Washington that Tuesday.
• Representative Jim Oberstar — A Minnesota Democrat and nationally-renowned member of the Congressional Bike Caucus. Representative Oberstar chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
• Representative Earl Blumenauer — A Democrat representing Portland, Oregon, Representative Blumenauer—another nationally renowned Congressional Bike Caucus member and founder of the Bike Caucus—sits on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.
• Representative Peter DeFazio — Another Oregon Democrat, and yet another member of the Congressional Bike Caucus, Representative DeFazio is a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
• Governor Ed Rendell — The Governor of Pennsylvania.
• Jane Garvey — The head of the Federal Aviation Administration from 1997 to 2002.
I've set up a Facebook Page for my 2010 campaign for the Maryland state legislature, and I'm hoping you will list yourself as a supporter (free). I figure you might be interested because bike transit and mass transit are big priorities for me.
The page is: <a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Don-Engel/25267650692">http://www.facebook.com/pages/Don-Engel/25267650692</a>
There is a 'Become a Supporter' link in the top right corner of the page.
or <a href="http://www.donengel.com/">http://www.donengel.com/</a>