“This isn’t just an issue of recreation; it’s an issue of equality, bringing people together, expanding the middle class and helping people who are trying to get into the middle class.”
These were heartening words to hear coming from keynote speaker US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx at last week’s 2014 National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C., where the focus was “United Spokes: Moving Beyond Gridlock.” Over 700 people attended from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada, and heard from top leaders Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ), former Chicago Transportation Commissioner and current fellow at the Urban Land Institute Gabe Klein, and more.
Among the speakers, Massachusetts was well represented with presentations by MassDOT Assistant Secretary for GreenDOT Ned Codd, Boston Bikes Director Nicole Freedman, and LivableStreets Campaign Coordinator Jamie Maier.
MassBike was represented at the Summit by Executive Director David Watson, Program Manager Kim Niedermaier, Communications and Outreach Manager Nathaniel Fink, and Program Associate Jimmy Pereira, who all had opportunities to network and share stories with other advocates from across the country, and attend breakout sessions such as “Moving Beyond the Bikelash,” “Why Equity, Why Now?” and “Quantifying Bike Benefits,” and others. Kim also attended the Women’s Forum, which took place on Monday.
In addition to the MassBike staff members, the Massachusetts delegation was comprised of Steven Bercu of Boston Cyclists Union, Gary Briere of Berkshires to Boston Tour, Jack Johnson of Landry’s Bicycles, Jamie Maier of LivableStreets Alliance, Jessica Mink of MassPaths, Galen Mook of Landry’s Bicycles, AB Bikes, and Commonwheels Bicycle Co-Op, Scott Mullen of LivableStreets Alliance, Bob Nesson of Power to the Pedals, Don Podolski of New Horizons Bikes, and John Siemiatkoski of League of American Bicyclists. Nicole Freedman and Najah Shakir of Boston Bikes were present as non-lobbying attendees.
On Wednesday morning, bike advocates from across the country, including the Massachusetts delegates, flooded Capitol Hill for Lobby Day. Heading into Lobby Day, Massachusetts Representatives Mike Capuano, Jim McGovern, Niki Tsongas, Bill Keating, and Katherine Clark, and Senator Ed Markey were already co-sponsors of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act (HR 3494). Rep. John Tierney was a co-sponsor of HR 3494 and New Opportunities For Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure (HR 3978). You can read more details about each of the bills here.
During the course of the days events, Rep. McGovern committed to co-sponsoring the Safe Streets Act (HR 2468) and HR 3978, and Rep. Tierney committed to co-sponsor HR 2468. MassBike staff members met directly with Rep. McGovern, Rep. Clark, and Senator Markey, and exchanged quick greetings with Rep. Kennedy and Rep. Capuano.
MassBike Executive Director David Watson had an extensive conversation with Senator Warren outside the Senate chamber about Community Transformation Grant funding and creating performance metrics for bike and pedestrian safety. After their conversation, Senator Warren was spotted on the Senate floor wearing her bright green bicycle pin.
According to Watson, “These were the most effective Capitol Hill meetings we’ve had in the eight years I’ve done this. What is most exciting is that we got some on-the-spot commitments from our representatives to co-sponsor legislation.”
All together, this was an exciting and successful National Bike Summit and Lobby Day. We thank the organizers, all of our Massachusetts delegates, and to everybody who participated in Virtual Lobby Day.
Finally, we’d like to give a big thanks to our members and supporters, who make it possible for MassBike to continue this kind of important advocacy work on behalf of bicyclists, both at the national level and at home in Massachusetts.