Monday, June 02, 2008

National Politics and Bicycle Advocacy

I couldn't make the Obama rally in Portland a couple of weeks ago, it was my mom's birthday and we spent a lovely day kayaking and hiking with her. But I've heard from several friends that were there that the bicycling presence was huge. Bikes were racked along every conceivable stretch of railing, every pole, rack, tree, and parking meter. I've heard estimates ranging from 6,000 - 15,000 bikes there, a very visible presence. has an article up with photos, and even a soundbite of Obama's speech, referencing Portland's mass transit and bikeability as a model for the rest of America:

“If we are going to solve our energy problems we’ve got to think long term. It’s time for us to be serious about investing in alternative energy. It’s time for us to get serious about raising fuel efficiency standards on cars. It’s time that the entire country learned from what’s happening right here in Portland with mass transit and bicycle lanes and funding alternative means of transportation.

That’s the kind of solution that we need for America. That’s the kind of truth-telling that we are going to do in this campaign and when I am President of the United States of America.”

I don't think we can understate at this point the importance of each individual doing their part. The people who already know how to bike commute right now are in an ideal position to help people who, because of rising fuel costs maybe, are just now starting to give it a try. The more visible we are, the more national politicians will pay attention to the needs of cyclists. I'm hoping that Obama's words are more than just campaign-trail promises and that a new future of better bikeability is on the horizon for all of the U.S.

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