Guest poster Jim Fisher is a regional planner for Hancock County, serving 37 towns and attended his first National Bike Summit this year.
A delegation led by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine descended on Washington, DC for the 2012 National Bicycle Summit on March 21. Spring is in like a lion with cherry blossoms at their peak and congress gearing up for November elections.
More than 800 people from 49 states came together for the summit with the mission of saving cycling in the face of a brutal house transportation bill that would, if passed, put an end to dedicated federal funding of Transportation Enhancements (primary funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects) and the Safe Routes to Schools program.
The crowd was electric with ideas for turning this potential bike-wreck into a renewed focus on grass roots programs to create safe and energy efficient transportation solutions using bicycle trails, shoulders and innovative programs for bike sharing.
Keynote presentations by long time bicycle leaders including Representative Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) and Secretary of Transportation Roy LaHood launched the summit in high gear. The core messages were for the U.S. House to take up and pass the two-year Senate Transportation Bill, dubbed MAP-21, or if not, to pass a clean, un-amended extension of the current transportation authorization. Failure to pass either may result in a shut-down of transportation construction projects this spring and summer.
Core sessions on how to communicate with congressional leaders and priorities for sustaining recent progress in making America a model for bicycle transportation provided the steady message. Maine’s favorite son, Jeff Miller, gave a dynamite presentation on the economics of cycling along with academics and local leaders.
A charismatic lunchtime presentation provided some ABC’s of communicating with Gen Y. There was no shortage of representation of all generations at the conference, but the goal of bringing out message to the next generation of bicycle advocacy leaders hit home.
Thursday has been dedicated to communicating with our elected leaders from around the country, and for us that means visits to the offices of Representatives Pingree and Michaud as well as Senators Collins and Snowe. We are pleased to be presenting Senator Snowe with a bicycle gear-clock for her steady support for cycling in Maine.
It ends this evening with a reception and a hasty return to Maine in time for the annual arrival of the black fly.