Successful Learning and Lobbying in Washington DC
From March 9-12, I had the pleasure of attending the National Bike Summit, hosted by the League of American Bicyclists. I joined 350 bike advocates from all over the country to share news, knowledge, and to lobby congress to make our country more bike-friendly. It was an amazing experience and I hope to see more advocates from California when I go back next year.
At the conference, I had a chance to hear inspiring voices from local and state advocacy organizations big and small. I heard volunteers from Durham NC and Cleveland TN talk about starting advocacy organizations with no money at all. I heard from educators in Minnesota about teaching children with developmental disabilities to ride bikes. I heard about a partnership between the League and Adventure Cycling about combatting distracted driving, and I heard plenty of opinions about emerging transportation technologies like e-scooters and e-bikes. When I heard about organizations in Richmond fighting and winning to get a permanent ban (!) on bike lanes on rejected, and advocates in Baltimore convincing their council that bike lanes don’t make it impossible for firefighters to use their trucks (not before a firefighter assaulted a cyclist), I was encouraged that we can get our cities in Ventura County on board without nearly as much strife. We just need to rally the community support.
My favorite day was Tuesday, when I rode my bike to Capitol Hill and lobbied congress. I had a chance to meet with policy staff of Julia Brownley and Salud Carbajal – representatives from our area, and talk about the Commuter Act. The Communter Act would reinstate pre-tax benefits for employees that choose to ride their bike to work. This was removed in the tax bill of 2017, even though the carpool and parking benefits remained. The new rules in the Commuter Act would also allow for people using E-Bikes and bikeshare to collect the benefits. I also spoke with staffers in Representatives offices from Long Beach, San Jose, and San Diego.
With a whole cadre of California Advocates, we spoke to policy staff at the offices of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Kamala Harris. Here we asked them to list bicycle and pedestrian safety as a top priority when the Committee on Environment and Public Works ask for them.o
Having been and advocate for the last 6 years, it was an awesome feeling to lobby at the federal level and tell the US government that bicycling should be a priority, and be heard. I hope that next year we can get more people from our area to attend and that our voices can be stronger in the election year. This trip was not cheap (even though I stayed at my Mom’s house) and could not have happened without dollars from the community that I went to advocate for. Your membership to BikeVentura funds our advocacy at all levels, which we will continue tirelessly. If you aren’t a member, Join Today.
Here are some other highlights from the trip: