(Anna Kelso and Darren Flusche, League Policy Analysts, attended the Brookings Institute Forum)
Last night League staff attended the Brookings Institute forum, “Cities, Bicycles, and the Future of Getting Around.” The event gathered some of bicycling’s best and brightest, including Tim Blumenthal from Bikes Belong, Portland’s Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller, and SRAM’s Cycling Fund Director, Randy Neufeld.
The symposium opened with David Byrne of the Talking Heads, who recently published his book Bicycle Diaries. Byrne began with a photo of Columbia, Md. where his elderly parents now live and are stranded due to the autocentric design of the community. He then went on to highlight some of his favorite books including: Twenty Minutes in Manhattan, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and The Timeless Way of Building. He continued with a photo diary of memorable scenes – both good and bad – of public spaces from his travels around the world on his beloved folding bike.
Following Byrne, Congressional Bike Caucus founder Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) opened with what he proclaims to be the universal question of bike advocates, and it goes something like this, “How many people are currently stuck in traffic on their way to ride a stationary bike at the gym?” A perverse notion, indeed. He then went on to talk about the new bill he recently introduced to congress that would create $2 billion in federal funds for investments in active transportation. Blumenauer described the cyclist as an indicator species of a healthy community. The hobby ecologist in me loves eco-metaphors.
Jannette Sadik-Kahn, commissioner of the New York city Department of Transportation, closed things with the the launching announcement of NACTO’s Cities for Cycling, a new coalition of cities pushing for rapid improvements in bikeway design. Recognizing the lack of federal attention to the issue, the coalition aims to assist transportation planners as they create innovative bikeways by providing them with technical guidance on best practices that have been observed in some of America’s most bicycle friendly cities.
The symposium reception served as a perfect kick-off for today’s congressional briefing. This morning Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclist, led a coalition of top advocates from across the country to brief Congress on how bicycling can be incorporated into the transportation bill and pending jobs legislation. This is a pivotal moment for some very exciting legislation that could potentially result in a brighter future for bike transportation in the US. We’ll keep you posted!
League Policy Analyst