Posts Tagged ‘James Oberstar’

2010 Elections: What they mean to Detroit cyclists

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Just some quick observations…

Michigan House

We lose cycling supporter (and Tour de Troit rider) Rep. Gabe Leland due to term limits. However, his replacement is cycling and trails advocate  Harvey Santana.

Former Detroit City Councilmember Alberta Tinsley-Talabi was elected to the State House. She was a solid supporter of Detroit’s non-motorized plan on Council.

Michigan Senate

Rep. Coleman Young II, who sat on the House Transportation Committee and supported the Complete Streets legislation, is now heading to the Michigan Senate.

Michigan Governor

We didn’t know if there was much of a difference between the two gubernatorial candidates. Though Rick Synder was called out on the pedestrian bridge comment, he noted that he supported bike-friendly, walkable communities. He also pledged to help strengthen the city of Detroit. And, insider talk says Bill Rustem may play a key role in they Synder administration. Rustem is a former board member of the Michigan chapter of the Rails to Trails Conservancy and a board emeritus for the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.

The bigger question is what will happen with MDOT. Will MDOT Director Kirk Steudle remain? Under his leadership, MDOT supported the Complete Streets legislation. He also authored that great letter about Complete Streets.

U.S. Congress

The huge loss of Congressman James Oberstar of Minnesota is quite devastating for bicycle advocacy in the U.S.  Andy Clarke, Executive director of the League of American Bicyclists says, “I’m not going to lie – I’m depressed.”

Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick lost in the primary and was a member of the bicycle caucus. She’s replaced by Hansen Clarke.

Congressman Mark Schauer had become a supporter of bicycling, especially through the efforts of PEAC. He lost his seat to Tim Walberg.

And overall the lost of Democratic control of the House will have a major impact on bicycling. It makes John Boehner the Speaker and he has some history of not being too bike friendly. And it might take a whole lot more work to make the  next transportation bill bike friendly.

As Clarke said, we’re now on the defensive.

National Bike Summit: a Detroit perspective

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The 10th National Bike Summit in Washington DC was last week. This three day event was a great opportunity to learn the latest on bike advocacy issues, lobby Congress, and network with peers.

I was attending this wearing a two main MTGA hats: Detroit Greenways Coordinator and Michigan Airline Trail Ambassador.

My highlight was Thursday morning. We had a group breakfast for last minute legislative updates and some cheerleading prior to our Congressional office visits. I was waiting behind this older gentleman for coffee. Being a bit impatient, I asked if I could cut in front. He poured my coffee and I said “Thanks”. It was then that I realized Congressman James Oberstar — one of the key bike supporters in DC and chair of the House Transportation committee — had just poured my coffee.

It was going to be a great day!


Wrapping up the National Bike Summit

Monday, March 16th, 2009
Mike Reuter, Todd Scott, Cullen Watkins

Mike Reuter, Todd Scott, Cullen Watkins

Here’s additional information from the National Bike Summit.

Bicycle Respect and Recognition

We reported earlier that Congressman Oberstar said, We need to make bicyclists a standard transportation mode by law. published more information on Oberstar’s initiative last week:

Today at the National Bike Summit in Washington D.C., Oberstar will meet with the country’s top bike lawyers to discuss the potential of a new legislative initiative to draft the country’s first piece of legal policy that would directly relate to the respect and recognition of bicycles as users of our roadways.

Portland bike lawyer Ray Thomas… describes the initiative as a way to create a federal law to ensure equitable treatment of people on bicycles who are involved in crashes. Too often, he says, drivers do not receive serious charges in collision cases. The way the system is set up now, police officers and prosecutors (for a variety of reasons) will often not even attempt to press serious charges against motorists.

Oberstar wants to fix the system so there’s a better chance that justice will be done.

A Plan for Circuit City Stores

One of the most interesting ideas I heard at the Summit was at an IMBA advocacy session. Sitting next to IMBA trail guru Rich Edwards, I began discussing potential indoor mountain bike facilities in Detroit.

Rich mentioned another more suburban opportunity.

567 Circuit City stores have closed around the U.S. These stores are large, well-lit, have concrete floors, heat, water, and very few uses — especially in this market.

One alternative idea is to make them into indoor dirt parks.

John Burke (right) holds a Detroit Gets Green pin

John Burke (right) holds a Detroit Gets Green pin

Trek Ride in Detroit

I attended the Summit with Mike Reuter and Cullen Watkins from American Cycle and Fitness. They invited me to a Trek dealer event at the Summit hosted by President John Burke.

After giving John a brief overview of what we’re achieving in Detroit, he offered to come to town this spring for an urban tour.

Detroit is 140 square miles with zero bike shops stocking new bikes on their floor.

Cyclists are Important Users

Ray LaHood, the Department of Transportation Secretary has a blog where he recently left comments on attending the National Bike Summit.

On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of addressing the National Bike Summit. I was invited to speak as a member of the Obama administration, but I have been a supporter of bicycling for many years and was a member of the Congressional Bike Caucus when I was in Congress.

Still, I don’t think the League of American Bicyclists knew what to expect when they invited me to their summit.

I hope they were pleasantly surprised because I am committed to investing in programs that encourage bikes to coexist with other modes and to safely share our roads and bridges. And there’s strong support in Congress for these goals as well.

Secretary LaHood also noted his excitement for the Active Transportation pilot program. The city of Detroit has submitted a proposal for participating in this program under the next federal transportation bill.

National Bike Summit Kicks Off

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

The 2009 National Bike Summit is underway!

Yesterday begin with a great presentation on Copenhagen, include an introduction from the Danish Ambassador to the U.S.

Some of the key points are:

  • Most Danish do not consider themselves cyclists.  They’re just people riding bikes and most everyone is doing it.
  • They typically don’t publicly address safety. When you do, it makes people think cycling isn’t safe. Although they didn’t directly tie this to bike helmet promotion, almost none of the bikers in their presentation wore them.
  • 36% of all trips in Copenhagen are by bike.  That’s a higher percentage than cars or mass transit. Their goal? 50%.
  • Having a Bike-free day in Copenhagen would cause a bigger protest than car-free.

Congressman James L. Oberstar, the father of Safe Routes to School followed.  He mentioned:

  • A new aviation bill will ensure more bicycling facilities at airports.
  • “Bicycling is going to be available everywhere.”
  • “We need to make bicyclists a standard transportation mode by law.”  He will make sure the next transportation bill explicitly designates bikes as a mode of transportation.
  • Now going to be a mode of transportation.
  • Is cycling going to be in the transportation bill?  That’s not even a question.  The question is how much.
  • “We’ve got a generation of mobility-challenged children.”

President-Elect Obama and Biking

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Much has been written about the recent U.S. presidential election, but one question for us is, “How does this affect federal bicycling funding and policy?”

Earlier this year the bike industry met with Senator Obama:

Stan Day, SRAM’s president, said that Obama “gets it.” He pointed out that Obama understands that bicycles can be part of a solution to issues as diverse as health care, obesity, energy and environmental policy. “He does his homework and he can connect the dots,” he said.

After winning the election, Obama’s team created a web site to discuss his upcoming term, its direction, and policy.  And it does discuss bicycling among its urban policy goals:

Build More Livable and Sustainable Communities: Our communities will better serve all of their residents if we are able to leave our cars, to walk, bicycle and access other transportation alternatives. As president, Barack Obama will re-evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account.

Yes, he “gets it.”

And, two of the names being bandied about for his Transportation Director are major cycling supporters: Earl Blumenauer and James Oberstar.  Both would be a huge boost for bicycling and Safe Routes to School advocates.

But we shouldn’t forget how absolutely awesome it was having a serious mountain biker in President George W. Bush.  That did wonders for the perception of mountain biking as a sport; it’s not just for young folks.

o how soon before Obama is riding mountain bike trails?  Certainly that question has already been asked at IMBA.

Stay tuned…