Bicycling Prominent on Capitol Hill
June 19, 2008
The bicycling movement is gaining credibility and influence with the U.S. Congress. Bicycling is increasingly seen as a solution to climate change, rising gas prices, the obesity crisis, and road congestion. Bikes Belong continues to represent the U.S. bicycle industry in Washington, D.C., and promote bicycle-friendly legislation. Several promising bills have been introduced this year.
Bike Resolution Passes House
A National Bike Bill introduced by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jim Oberstar (D-MN) passed the House of Representatives on May 21. The first of its kind, it documents more than 20 specific benefits of bicycling across a wide spectrum of policy issues. The document creates a compelling case for a national strategy to increase bicycling use and safety, and asserts that bicycling should be part of national, state, and local efforts to tackle climate change, obesity, road congestion, and other challenges.
Complete Streets Bill in House & Senate
In May, Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2008 into the U.S. House. The bill would make sure that roads built and improved with federal funds safely serve everyone using the roadway, including bicyclists, pedestrians, bus riders, and those with disabilities. Meanwhile, Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) signed on as the first Republican co-sponsor of the Senate version of the bill.
This is the first time that comprehensive complete streets bills have been introduced in the House and Senate. With Bikes Belong’s support, the National Complete Streets Coalition has been lobbying for this since 2004. For more information, visit completestreets.org.
New Bike Caucus Chair in Senate
Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) has agreed to serve as Republican Co-Chair for the Congressional Bike Caucus, joining Democratic Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL). Bikes Belong has been working with the League of American Bicyclists to expand membership and influence of the caucus, which was established to promote bike-friendly legislation and improve conditions for cyclists commuting to Capitol Hill. On May 22, Senators Snowe and Durbin sent a letter encouraging senators to join the Bike Caucus—an important step in energizing this group.
Bicycle Commuters Benefits Act
The House continues to look for a way to advance this legislation, which would allow employers to reimburse bike-commuting employees $20 per month tax-free. It has 66 bi-partisan co-sponsors and is now part of a clean energy tax package, which passed the House on May 21.
Biking Part of Green Public Schools Act
A bike amendment has been added to the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act. It seeks to allow funds to be used for school improvements that facilitate bicycle and pedestrian access. It is evidence that members of Congress see bicycling as a solution to our transportation woes.
Climate Legislation Mentions Bikes
The U.S. Senate has been debating the details of a Climate Bill that would charge companies for producing excess greenhouse gases. Our supporters on Capitol Hill are proposing that some of the revenue be spent on new bike facilities and programs. At press time, the timing of full Congressional consideration of this bill was uncertain.