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Friends in high places

A visit to Congress on behalf of cyclists has the potential to feel like an exercise in futility; for whatever reason, leadership in the House of Representatives decided to specifically target all-things-cycling for elimination from federal funding on the grounds that it’s frivolous. Frivolous?

Representative Jackie Speier with Gary Fisher at the DC Bicycle Summit lobbying event. Jackie has been a supporter of cycling from Day 1.

Tell that to car-bound commuter stuck in traffic because it’s not possible to build enough roads and parking lots in a city and still have a place to live.

Tell that to downtown stores and restaurants that can’t stay in business because the lack of space has driven rents through the roof.

Tell that to a new generation that may become fat & lazy because it’s not safe for kids to ride or walk to school, so they’re driven everywhere.

Tell that to anyone paying nearly $5/gallon for gas because our need for fuel has driven up the cost.

Tell that to a cyclist who’s been injured by a car because the roads aren’t built to accomodate all users.

Fortunately, the two Representatives local to Chain Reaction, Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo, get it. And fortunately, when the House leadership (Representatives Boehner and Mica) decided that cycling infrastructure and Safe Routes to Schools programs were frivilous, thousands of people responded. We heard that the kickback from cyclists was far beyond anything Boehner and Mica were prepared for and, as a result, there will likely be a 3-month extension of the current highway funding bill, keeping our programs intact. During that 3 months, the House and Senate will be getting together to hammer out a bill acceptable to both, and it is hopeful that, while we’ll share our burden of the current financial situation, we won’t be completely gutted as things originally appeared.

To all of our customers who responded to an earlier email request for help (by calling or emailing your representative), all 800 cycling advocates who worked “The Hill” in DC on March 22nd, thank you. We have proved ourselves capable of a good fight, and that alone is worth a lot of value when fighting for our rights to the road and our desire to make our communities friendlier to all who live there. The battle is not over, but with the help of the cycling community, we will prevail. –Mike–

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10 minutes of your time, today, could save cycling in the US

Congress, in the next two days, may kill off virtually any expenditure having to do with making cycling a routine & safe activity, including-

Safe Routes to Schools is a program that works! More kids riding & walking to schools, less congestion.
  • Safe Routes to Schools, an amazing program that is getting kids to walk and ride to schools again, is going to be gone. And with it all hope of relief from traffic gridlock anywhere near a school in the mornings or afternoons. And this is a program that has had widespread bipartisan support.

  • Efforts to make sure new road projects accomodate motorists, pedestrians and cyclists will be set back years. This affects everyone, even motorists, as all users will continue to fight it out on poorly-designed roads and intersections. Congestion, gridlock and road rage will only get worse.

What can you do? In 10 minutes, you can make a difference.

Call your representative’s office and ask them to support Representative Petri’s amendment to restore funding to Safe Routes to Schools and Transportation Enhancements. Tell them it’s important, to you, that we invest in the future. Tell them that you’ve used a bicycle to commute, to shop, or just for fun. Let them know that, when gas gets above $4/gallon again, you’d like an alternative that’s safe and easy to do.

How do I do that?

Follow this link to find out who your Representative is and their phone number. For example, when I go to that link, it asks for my zip code (94062) and tells me my Rep is Jackie Speier. I click on her link and at the bottom of her page it gives me her phone number (both local and DC; I called the local). I call the number, speak to a staff person in her office, explain that I’m concerned about the future and that cutting all support for cycling is not something I want to see. Please support Representative Petri’s amendment. They take notes, and report to the Representative that “x” number of people called today asking that she support Representative Petri’s amendment to save funding for pedestrian & cycling projects.

That’s it. Seriously, just 10 minutes of your time. You don’t have to know any details about Representative Petri’s amendment. They don’t expect that you do. They just know that the amendment supports cycling infrastructure and that you believe in that.

My personal pitch for investing in the future-

I get that people think the country’s deficit is too big and we’re spending beyond our means. I get that we have to prioritize and make painful choices sometimes. But what I don’t get is an insistence that we only spend what we have, and cannot afford to invest in our future.

Anyone who has kids knows that’s not how the world works. If you’ve made a decision to have kids, you’ve mortgaged your future, plain & simple. Anyone who owns a house knows this isn’t how the world works. You borrow against the future, believing that the investment will pay off. These are generally intelligent decisions supported by society. Not subject to naysayers telling you that’s crazy, you don’t have the money today to support what it’s going to cost you tomorrow.

Investing in a future that helps us fight health issues, congestion & reducing our dependence on resources other countries can hold us hostage for is, I feel, worth spending 1.5% of the federal transportation budget on pedestrian & cycling needs.

Thanks-          Mike (& Steve) Jacoubowsky, Partners, Chain Reaction Bicycles

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