Blumenauer Sees Brighter Future As Bike Momentum Builds

"All of a sudden it's hot", says long-time bike advocate and U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer, who's hoping the country will ride this momentum towards a more sustainable pattern of development.

"Mr. Blumenauer, a passionate advocate of cycling as a remedy for everything from climate change to obesity, represents most of Portland in Congress, where he is the founder and proprietor of the 180 (plus or minus)-member Congressional Bicycle Caucus. Long regarded in some quarters as quixotic, the caucus has come into its own as hard times, climate concerns, gyrating gas prices and worries about fitness turn people away from their cars and toward their bikes."

"But Mr. Blumenauer's goals are larger than putting Americans on two wheels. He seeks to create what he calls a more sustainable society, including wiser use of energy, farming that improves the land rather than degrades it, an end to taxpayer subsidies for unwise development - and a transportation infrastructure that looks beyond the car."

"For him, the global financial collapse is 'perhaps the best opportunity we will ever see' to build environmental sustainability into the nation's infrastructure, with urban streetcar systems, bike and pedestrian paths, more efficient energy transmission and conversion of the federal government's 600,000-vehicle fleet to use alternate fuels."

Full Story: A Bicycle Evangelist With the Wind Now at His Back



Anything but quixotic

Having seen congressman Blumenauer speak, I can tell you he is anything but a starry-eyed dreamer or the quixotic figure that many in Washington have made him out to be. What comes out is a man who has thoughtfully assessed many of the problems facing our nation and has come up with an action plan.

He is someone who "gets it". He is a big-picture thinker, who sees the connection between land use and transportation (Obama still doesn't), between infrastructure, the environment and the economy. A lot of the press he receives is centered around his personal love of cycling, but that is only one small piece of his comprehensive plan to rebuild America:

I just home the incoming administration and his fellow congressmen will take a serious look at the solutions he's offering.

Motorcycle/Scooter Commuter Bill also needed

Mr. Blumenauer's efforts are definitely to be commended - especially "putting Americans on two wheels" and "developing a transportation infrastructure that looks beyond the car." However, I would recommend that Mr. Blumenauer and other planners in America also look beyond the bike as a viable mode of alternative transportation. Specifically, other countries are including motorcycles/scooter infrastructure as an integral part of their energy and transportation policy. Most prevalent in Asia, motorcycle infrastructure can now also be found in London as part of the city bus lanes. London Mayor Boris Johnson is a big proponent of motorcycle infrastructure, and recently was quoted as saying “one of the ways we can ease congestion is by encouraging more people to get on their bike, whether pedal or powered." Ontario is another western government experimenting with motorcycle infrastructure as they are two years into a pilot study allowing e-bikes (electric scooters) on greenways.

Motorcycle/scooter infrastructure is the only way that this proven, efficient mode of transport will ever be utilized to its fullest extent due to safety issues of riding in mixed traffic. With 80% of commuters in Single Occupancy Vehicles, there is a tremendous opportunity to shift some of these trips to 2-wheels. However, this shift will only take place if the route is safe and convenient and at least close to the travel time of a car.

Duane Verner
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