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Bike Summit Prep: Research Your Representative
Meeting with your elected officials, or direct lobbying, is one of the most effective ways to advocate for programs and policies that enhance the safety and comfort of people who bike. That’s why the League’s annual Lobby Day at the National Bike Summit has played such an important role in shaping legislation on Capitol Hill for better biking. By attending the Bike Summit, either virtually or in person, and attending Lobby Day, you can be part of the Bike Lobby working to build a Bicycle Friendly America for Everyone.
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In order to make the largest impact in your congressional meetings, it is important to come prepared! Here are some important resources and steps that should be taken in preparation for your next lobbying session.
Identify your Members of Congress
In most cases (minus our friends who live in DC), you will have two senators and one representative on Capitol Hill.
In order to find your House congressional district and representative, plug your ZIP code into the “Find Your Representative” tool. You can find your senators by state on the Senate website.
Once you’ve identified your elected officials, begin browsing their website and researching the legislative issues they focus on and the committees and caucuses on which they serve..Be sure to take note of what they are generally talking about on their website and the issues related to biking such as health, climate, equity, economic growth, infrastructure, transportation, etc.
Note: Congressional committees are legislative sub-organizations that adjudicate legislation in specific topic areas. Members are assigned to committees but can request to serve on ones in which they have an interest. Caucuses are self-organized sub-groups that members voluntarily join due to a specific legislative interest. Committees and caucuses provide essential information regarding your representative’s legislative priorities and focuses.
Have they supported better biking legislation?
Before you meet with your elected officials, use this research to see if there something that you can thank your members for supporting at your next meeting. Check the list of League-supported legislation to see if your members have co-sponsored bills for better biking: co-sponsor list for the House and the Senate.
In addition, make sure to thank your representative if they voted in support of the most recent infrastructure bill.
Local Case/Local Projects
In your meetings, connect the dots on how pro-bike policies and funding decided on Capitol Hill will impact your district locally. If there are existing projects, proposed plans, or specific local events related to bicycling, be sure to mention them. You can use the Transportation Alternatives Annual Report to search for local transportation-related projects and the Bicycle Friendly America Awards Database to provide an assessment of how communities in your district are working to make bicycling a safe, convenient and accessible option for both transportation and recreation. It is important to tailor any proposed policies to your specific district and explain how they will benefit your community.
Finally make sure to search your local newspaper’s website for any statements they may have made on transportation, bicycling or related issues. That will give you some insight into their perspective and positions.
Learning about your members of Congress will help you relate bicycling to the things they care about. It will also give you confidence going into the meeting. So please take a few minutes to research their past votes, statements and interests.