I recently returned from the National Bike Summit in Washington DC.
As a first timer, the Summit was a great learning experience. First there were the stories. The cycling community is amazingly creative and motivated. I heard about building mountain bike trails in downtown New York and Seattle, kids riding their bikes to school en mass, and how people around the country are finding effective ways to spread the word that bikes are a part of the answer (to virtually every problem society faces). There were seminars that spanned a huge array of current issues and many were hosted by sympathetic aids working in Washington and the staffers of nationally recognized non-profits. The last advocacy training was based off American Idol. Naturally it focused on what not to do.
The big day on capital hill was an interesting attempt by everyone to dress in business formal. I did my best with a thrift store suit that I altered at home with the help of friends. There were a fair number of interesting interpretations of business formal and many included the ubiquitous Cordura attache bag. We met mostly with staffers, all of whom were polite. The one legislator I met in person was Michele Bachmann, go figure. She told us about how much she liked the Gateway trail (it's in her district so watch out). At each stop we made our presence and issues known, hopefully to lasting effect.
Possibly the biggest challenge of the week was finding the secure bike parking in the underground parking garage of the monstrous Ronald Regan Building (visualize an unmarked door amid a multilevel garage of unmarked doors and unknowing staff). I figured it was the summits way of keeping it real.
Overall, The League of American Bicyclists put together a good summit. The seminars covered the spectrum, the food was great, and they kept it fun and to the point.
Check out some of our issue papers below:
Complete Streets Bill: Transportation infrastructure for everyone = revolutionary
CLEAN-TEA: Clean Low Emission Affordable New Transportation Equity Act
Congressional bike Caucus: Encouraging other legislators to join the bike partisan caucus. We almost have a majority!
America Bikes Agenda for the 2009 Transportation Bill
Find more info and followup at The League's website: www.bikeleague.org
See ya on the streets,